I don’t even like talking on the phone any more. I can’t talk more about this. When friends call, they want to know what’s going on with Erik, how’s Leah handling it. Nobody asks about the cafe, which is like the only thing that’s keeping me sane and grounded on this earth. If I didn’t have those people, Finn, Jackie, Barbara, that sweet Ivesdal kid, I don’t know how I’d take this. But god I don’t want to talk about my totally failed marriage anymore. That’s not a narrative that I chose to have in my life, the marriage that was a total failure and this divorce that won’t quite ever be final. I’m just sick of telling it over and over.
The story is bad enough and then everyone is full of advice. Why do I keep letting him share custody when he’s hardly paid a cent of the money he owes me for child support. Is he doing drugs? Why don’t I go after him? How can I let Leah go spend the night with him? Do I know what he’s doing when he has her?
Look, I don’t like it, but he’s her father, and he’s a decent father. At least she wants to see him, spend time with him. Every once in awhile when he completely flakes and I don’t know what happens and he doesn’t show up to pick her up and she’s sitting by the window waiting for his car to pull up, yeah, then maybe he’s not such a perfect father. But I see a lot of dads in this town. I’ve been over to the Uptown to see Finn a few times. What about those dads sitting around in there, sipping away their paychecks. Are they any better? Just because there’s a chance that maybe they don’t have anything to do with this doctor in town whose name was on that oxycontin prescription I found in the trash that I know was bogus? And that I’m afraid may have something to do with how this man could have no apparent job for a long time and still be renting that nice little house over in the old neighborhood near his mother’s house. My friends have pieced a story together from these random little facts, the prescription bottle, there not being a job, his erratic behavior sometimes, these other things I’ve seen written on papers which I’m not going to talk about. But maybe I’ve just pulled out those facts because I’m angry at him and we’re getting a divorce. This man became a total stranger to me while we were married, but does that mean I should punish my daughter and take away her father?
People say, “How could you have ever married him?” And, “When you were married you said it was the best day of your life. What happened?” Well, life happened, I guess. I mean, you meet someone, you fall in love. You’re young, you see the world in them, the future. You see what they could be, and you fall in love with that person. You fall in love with a story. But how would I have known otherwise? Who tells you that the story you’re telling yourself, that this person will love you till death do you part and all that, who gives you a slap and says, “Don’t believe that story, don’t trust your heart.” Who tells you that you shouldn’t pay so much attention to the sweet things, the flowers on a Saturday morning, the surprise outings on the first warm day in Spring, that sort of thing. Who tells you to forget about that and trust the times he scared you or made you sad or worry? Things that you naturally forget because you want the other story, the story about how you’re a worthwhile human being and you deserve well and you deserve all the sweet things this man is giving you. That’s the story we all want to believe, isn’t it? Isn’t that what all brides believe when they’re up at the altar saying they promise themselves forever? And I didn’t even say those words. It’s not like I’m stupid. I was chasing after the same storyline for myself that everyone else wanted.
So I just can’t talk about it anymore. What I need to do is sort out this custody plan so that we can get it filed and be done with it, for us and for Leah. It’s like I don’t want to talk anymore, I just want to tick things off my list and then sit here and be quiet. Maybe then I would find that little bit of peace I need.