What a strange night. Tonight marked one of the final steps of the process. The process of divorce.
Divorced. At 26. Sometimes I have to shake my head in disbelief, and question how, exactly, life ends up the way it does. One year ago, nearly a newlywed. Today, nearly a divorcee.
I'm OK with the turn of events. I'm far past the stages of grief, if that's what it was. I've accepted it. Moved forward. Haven't looked back much. But tonight I had to rewind six months of absence and silence and face it. We had to meet to arrange final paperwork so I can submit our marriage, on paper, to a county judge and have it nixed.
It's been over six months since the last face-to-face encounter. Five since our last communication, which came in the form of mail - divorce papers, signed.
And here we were, face to face in the parking lot of Starbucks.
I'm sure you could cue all sorts of dramatic music, but there was none of that, other than the nerves in my gut. I was terrified. What do I say? What does he say? It wasn't much of an amicable parting, but time heals, I suppose.
We had cordial conversation, nothing too personal. Small talk about jobs and apartments. The conversation felt forced, awkward. Like, if it got too personal, it'd turn to arguing. Maybe tears. Not tears of sadness, though, tears of disbelief.
How did we get here?
I don't regret the decision. I don't look back longingly. But I wouldn't be human if I didn't think, "What the hell happened?" How did we go from one extreme to the other? How did this person sitting across from me turn into a stranger?
It felt like talking to someone who had amnesia, and although you shared a life once, you couldn't say it aloud. They couldn't know. You had to pretend you were strangers. Meanwhile, scene after scene of a previous life is flashing before your eyes as you sign your name on the dotted line, erasing it with every letter.
This post is not meant to conjure feelings of regret. Sadness? Yes. Sadness over the turn of events. I'm happy now. So happy. I've got an entire life ahead of me. But there's something surreal about putting an end to what was supposed to be life. Once upon a time. 'Til death due you part.
Nothing died but the relationship.
In a few weeks, it will be finalized, done. History. My maiden name will be legal again, and I'll be able to sign debit card receipts without feeling like a fool because I never quite got the hang of signing the married one.
It took 10 minutes, literally, to tie up loose ends and get the proper paperwork together. Then it was goodbye. Not the kind of goodbye you tell someone after sharing a cup of coffee. The kind of goodbye you tell someone after sharing a marriage. And divorce.
"Have a good night," I said, staring at my car, willing it to drive me away.
"Take care," he replied.
And that was it.
I wouldn't be human, either, if I said I didn't cry as soon as my car pulled out of the Starbucks parking lot.