I overslept this morning. I don’t sleep much since my husband moved out. I can’t seem to find the right pillow or a comfortable position or peace of mind. Not at night anyway. Sometimes in the early hours I can doze. I feel safer when the world is humming around me. I drifted off around 4am and now I was late. My ex-husband was stopping by the new place to help me move some heavy stuff, after he dropped our kid at school. I was too late to make the apartment or myself shine like I didn’t need him anymore.
He carried the boxes down to my Silence of the Lambs storage space, drove my microwave to UPS and then took me to breakfast. He’d warned me he would be in a hurry this morning, but as usual, his actions contradicted his words.
He misses me. “You miss me,” I say when I catch him staring, leaning in, looking at the parts of me he wants to touch. “I do,” he says. In that moment, I want to blow up his face. I want to rip open my chest and show him the damage. I want to hurl words at him that I would never be able to take back.
I spin around and flit away. “You take the tv stands,” I say, “and I’ll carry down the box of Addie’s china.”
I’m stuck in this nether place between longing and calliopes. I still don’t know the rules of the game we’re playing, but I’m certain I don’t want to lose. Losing is for rodeo clowns and I’ve had my fill of distracting the bull so the riders can escape the ring unscathed. I realize that rodeo clowning is my legacy. My birthright. Distract the bull, draw him toward me, hope to clear the fence in time. Break a few bones maybe. I’ve found if I offer up the meatier parts when the horns begin to gore my flesh, it doesn’t hurt as much. I dance. I wave my arms and shout- over here, over here, then sigh relief when my loved ones make it to higher ground. I spit the dust from my mouth and shake off the pain, when I see that they’re safe.
But wait a minute. I’m in recovery from all rodeo clowning. And while, in fact, it may be the longest recovery in history, it is mine. I am trying to grow up. I am trying to evolve into a person who lives her actual life instead of only helping other people live theirs. I am trying to be. Oh God. Pretty sure I sound like one of those inspirational plaques you see in the check out line at Marshall’s or TJMaxx or JoAnns. Like, Live out Loud or Keep a Happy Heart! Ugh.
“Your place is really great Kath,” my ex says. And for a moment I had forgotten he was in the room. I turn back and study him. He seems sad. He seems small. He seems lost. I know the feeling but make no move to ease his discomfiture. I make no move to rodeo clown and distract his beasts. I make no move to help him live this moment. I just notice him among the boxes and chaos and beauty I am trying to create. I smile. And I nod. And I say, “Thanks”.