I am 27 years old, 10 months into my marriage, and have been separated from my husband for two weeks. Consider this a letter from the trenches of impending divorce.
I'm writing from Starbucks in Epping, NH, 433 miles away from my former apartment, and 20 minutes from my mother's consignment shop, also known as home. My mother's lease ran out a few weeks ago, and our two-bedroom beach house won't be ready for another week and a half, so for the time being, I've been sleeping on a blow-up mattress amidst the summer clearance, with my cat curled around my legs.
During the days, I help in the shop for an hour or two when I can spare or stand it. My mother pays me under the table when she can afford it, which keeps me in gas money. I’ll need it with all the continual running away I’ll try to do. I'll hide in this coffee shop amidst the hubbub of orders and chatter, where I'm just another cliché in a hoodie with a laptop. I'll hide in the library or, more often, its parking lot. I have learned the art of curling up into my unpacked boxes and napping in the air conditioning, sometimes with a mixed drink stowed away, other times without.
There's another parking lot right before a fishing bridge that leads toward my new job, and I'll open the car door, blast pop music from my iPhone, and watch the water. I'm becoming fond of parking lots. They're good places to cry, to rest, to try to kill off the part of my life that engenders sadness, in order to forget.
I can’t forget the fact that I am living with my mother again after 10 years of being on my own, which means I'm constantly slathered in a mixture of being made breakfast, being force-fed Emergen-C, and her wondering where I've been when I come "home" at 1 a.m. or where I'm going when I leave "home" at midnight.
Where I go at night is another matter, completely separate from the overheated doldrums of the day. After training at my new job (serving at the British Beer Company, which I haven't done for three years and feels like a strange sort of time travel or regression), I'll go sit at the bars where there are liable to be eligible bachelors who might buy me a pint of beer so I don't feel so lonely, or too old to eventually get back in the game and find the love that I'm not sure I want anymore.
Sometimes I'll drive an hour into Boston to see friends and seek benefits, because I want to be single, but not celibate. I've been told this is unhealthy, I'm making poor decisions, and I just need to be alone and sit with my pain. But something about being touched again reminds me, like free pints of beer, that I am desirable. And I can have excitement, intrigue, and (perhaps) make mistakes and my life doesn't have to be entirely about the pain.
Because the pain can come at me sideways, without warning, regardless of what I may do or where I may run. I was out to dinner with a friend, catching up and celebrating my new job, when my chest tightened, then contracted, and suddenly recounting facts felt like the tearing away a limb or organ. I then drove to the library, swallowed warm ginger ale and whiskey, and sobbed as the local skateboarders rolled past the tail end of my car, oblivious.