In 2005, I separated from my wife.
But it wasn’t a real separation because we still saw each other every day.
In 2010, we decided that it was time to file for divorce.
In 2011, we did file for divorce with California.
But we filed it incorrectly, and it got them returned to us, and we didn’t touch the paperwork for another eight months.
In 2012, we re-filed the paperwork. And finally, we were divorced. We got the notice in the mail.
But it didn’t feel like divorce. I was still living in the same house for half of the year, and we shared all expenses. And we were still arguing about the same issues. It was as if we had tossed away all of the good parts of marriage, only to keep the negatives. We treated the divorce notice as irrelevant, as valid as Monopoly money. It didn’t matter what California said. We would keep working at this forever.
In 2013, I met another woman online and I traveled to New Zealand to see her.
But even during this budding international romance, I still never FELT completely divorced. And Juli, the woman in New Zealand, told me so. I hid from my ex-wife when she called me on the phone. It was if I felt uncomfortable making a new life for myself without her approval. I was tied to her, if not like husband and wife, at least like “brother and sister.” It was not healthy, and my ex and I, who once loved each other dearly, were beginning to hate each other.
My last month in Los Angeles was a traumatic one. I turned in my key. I removed myself from the phone “family plan.” I moved my books into storage. It was tense and awful month, especially coming immediately after the most beautiful one in New Zealand.
Today, I spoke on the phone with my ex-wife about some lingering issues. She is beginning to have her own life. Her own hobbies and friends. We argued about some money, of course, just for old time’s sake, but it didn’t feel the same. There have been so many changes down the road, that we are different people than when we first got married, wearing that tuxedo and white dress. We are not husband and wife. We are not brother and sister. I’m not sure we are even friends. Not yet. For now, it seemed more like a conversation between ex-business partners.
For better or for worse, for sickness or for health, eight years after our “separation” and two and a half years after we first filed the paperwork, I finally felt divorced — that is, emotionally. And I don’t say that cruelly. It is necessary.