The car carrier across the way has his APU running. The RV overnighting next to him has their generator going as well.
The street sweeper finished his sashay across the lot about an hour and a half ago.
Two trains have groaned through town since midnight. I can just make out the sound of another to the south. Different engineers play their own pattern on the horn. One is by-the-book, sounding it for the full two or three seconds for each crossing. There are almost a dozen crossings on the main line through town. That’s a lot of horns. Another taps it for most of the crossings, probably because they’re so close together. Those taps echo oddly, with the responding tones half a step lower than the original.
I’m sitting here next to a few thousand pounds of fireworks, making sure they get through the night unmolested. I’m not quite halfway through a sixteen-hour shift. I probably should have tried to get some sleep yesterday, but there was too much going on.
The Wal-Mart parking lot is really quiet at 4:30 in the morning.
Alone in the still in of the morning is not a good place for me to be right now.
My emotions are beginning to roil and churn. The night I told my wife that we should separate, I felt like it was the right thing to do. I felt like I was protecting her. She’d said that day that my own dry season of faith—what I’m now calling my Thomas time—was starting to affect her. Starting to come between her and God.
I never wanted that for anyone. This has always been a personal struggle. It’s always been my own private battle that I didn’t want to drag anyone into.
At the same time, I hated that I was going through it alone. Who can a man turn to in times of emotional turmoil if not his spouse?
The week before we made the decision, Diana had said something about how the poor communication and the unaddressed emotional issues we both had had “eroded the foundations of our marriage.” One of our therapists asked her what those foundations were, and she’d just come up with them the night we ended our marriage.
She came up with five:
- Trust that the other will always have your best interest in mind
- The belief that the other will do anything needed for your good.
- Absolute knowledge that he is my protector.
- A deep understanding of the other.
- A mutual purpose for life.
She couldn’t tell me where I had gone wrong. If someone sets a standard for you to meet, shouldn’t they be able to tell you what you’ve done wrong? Shouldn’t they be able to point out specific times you failed to meet that standard?
It’s paradoxical that these foundations were defined a week before our marriage ended. I think I used the word ironic that night.
I find myself terribly confused by this list and the revelations that accompany it. They all make sense as the building blocks for a successful marriage, whatever that is. You should be able to trust that your partner is always looking out for you. You should understand them.
You should be working toward a common purpose.
You should discuss and agree on that purpose before your commit to spending the rest of your lives together.
Not that the whole rest-of-your-life thing is that realistic. We’re not really wired that way, some researchers say. Maybe we were in the beginning, but it’s changed somewhere along the evolutionary path.
As I’ve let this list rattle around my head these last few weeks, I’ve come to realize that neither one of us really understood the other very well. I thought I understood her. I thought I knew a large portion of what makes her tick. I thought “I get her.”
Holy crap was I wrong.
At least it seems like I was. I must have been, right? Since we’re divorcing? That means I didn’t understand her as well as I thought I did, doesn’t it? So when did I lose that understanding? Did I ever have it? When did that belief become wrong? Was it ever right?
So many questions in my heart now, as sirens chase each other across the city, masked by another train horns.
How can I trust my judgment again?
After Diana and I got married and people would ask me about my life, I’d say that I was married before, but I got it right the second time. I believed that with every fiber of my being then. I knew in my bones that no matter what we faced, we’d get through it.
At least I thought I did. I remember doubts surfacing the day after our wedding. Earth-shattering thoughts.
I fought them. Beat them down furiously. I was not going to have a second marriage fail!
Things got better for a time, and then they didn’t.
I find myself thinking one thing, then remembering what really happened. How long did I lie to myself about my marriage?
But at the same time, I have to be careful not to let the immediacy of the divorce color my memories either. Yes, we had problems. But we had some wonderful times together.
On balance though, it seems the bad outweighed the good. It must have, for us to end up where we are. Isn’t that how these things work?
Jim Steinman’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” has been on almost constant repeat in my mental jukebox this last week. I find myself angry and frustrated over what’s happened. I start analyzing every argument, every disagreement, every moment of our past, trying to figure out which of the millions of instants was the one where it all went wrong.
Then she brushes by me.
Or I catch her scent.
Or she smiles at me.
And the fury and ache all wash away for the briefest breath.
But it’s only the ebb of the ocean before the next wave of grief crashes over me, and the riptide of loss tries to drown me again.
I can’t even tell which way the tide is flowing, or if I care.