One of the horrible things about divorce and splitting up is that suddenly, eight years of your life become very difficult to think of. Zoe's dad and I had a wonderful relationship, and did amazing and fun things together; we traveled a lot, we laughed a lot and we did all the mundane things such as watching television at night while drinking tea and him rubbing my arm. I loved the vast majority of the time and we have lots of pictures from our journeys around Europe that I fondly used to look at and I would go through all the good moments in my head. I remember the posh hotel in Malaga that had a slide from one floor to the next, which he took, I remember the overnight train from Berlin to Krakow where we had dinner in the dining car before trying to cuddle up in one of the bunk-beds, and I remember the way he laughed so hard at my miserable parking skills when I drove the rental van we had for the day to pick up furniture for our new home in Southern California (not that he could park better, in fact I became the master of parallel parking, so much that if he was driving and we needed to parallel park, he would drive up, without a word walk around the car and let me get in the drivers seat just to do the parking). I also remember all the flights where we got champagne because there was always something to celebrate, the first time I got upgraded because of his gold card (I since got my own), calling my mom from London Heathrow: "I got upgraded! We are going to the US on business class!", I yelled into the phone, embarrassing him because it was not a big deal to him.
But when you split up, all these memories become painful. Every single one of them and I often try not to think to much of the positive parts of our relationship because it reminds me of how so many good things can be gone in an instant. The memories cannot be shared with the other anymore and they remind me instead of how we failed to maintain our family. I still think people get divorced or split up way too easily today without trying much at all, because relationships are tough. Nobody ever said it was easy and yet, people expect it to be easy. When things got tough for us, we tried for three months before he said he didn't want to try anymore. Three months. When I said I wasn't able to move back in right now he said that then it was over. Eight years relationship gets a three month trial. At the time I really couldn't move back in because I was emotionally messed up and very sad about my situation. So I turned to someone who were able to give me attention and who was there for me. For a short time. Six month later I was ready to, if not move back in, at least try again with Zoe's dad because he was after all the love of my life and we had a wonderful daughter who deserved a whole family, not to mention eight years of wonderful memories, but he was gone. He declined my suggestion without much thought. This was not even a year after our initial split.
Time flies when you are having fun. Time also flies when you are having a miserable time, it just flies differently. I try to cut out the eight years in my memory because it is so painful to think of. Last time I was in the basement of our old apartment to pick up some of my 100 books that still reside there, I saw that he had put all our old picture books down there. We used to get a picture book made for each of our holidays or events (our wedding, Zoe's first year) but apparently it was too painful for him to look at them too (I still don't understand how he can live in our old apartment with our old furniture because that would make me sad every day to think that we got all this together, created this home together). But despite me cutting out at least a big part of the last eight years in my mind (I did have an independent life with friends and work that is joyful to think of) it pops up again and again. Zoe's questions prompt a lot since she is at a stage where she is just beginning to understand that I know her dad very well and that we had a life together before here. She remembers nothing of her life before the split, she was only 2 and could hardly talk. We used to have a book that went with her, where we wrote down things she had done, said, what we had observed. Now two years later she tells me all kinds of things about what they do and how things look and it is nice to recognize his habits. Zoe gets rice with fish for dinner and he tells her the same jokes he always told me, just the kids version. She explains how she has a table with colors and paper in the corner of the living room and how her changing table is now only for storing clothes. And I have to tell her that I know, because I set up all those things. I retrofitted a coffee table and put it in the corner and bought the chair for her. And her dad and I bought the baskets for her clothes in her changing table before she was born. So I'll cherish the memories that I can at least share with her. And when she gets older I can't wait to tell her all about her parents' travels to Japan, our life in California, and all the funny and nice things her dad used to say to me. Because in fact, the only thing that really makes memories into memories is the sharing of them.
|My miserable parking skills, 2007|
|Our first trip to the desert, 2007|