Sunday, January 3, 2010

(500) Days of Summer, or T-minus 5 Months

When I was married, I was unhappily married for longer than I can count. In theory, I could make use of that calculator feature on my iPhone to multiply the number of years times the number of days, but that would be a number so high that it might make me eternally depressed to know that this number is equal the amount of unhappiness and wasted time in my short life.

I've had four major relationships end painfully in my life, two with friends, two with men. In all four instances, I can name the exact moment when I knew the relationship was over, even though it wasn't entirely over yet. In one, a friendship, it was when he came back from a two-week academic seminar in Cape Cod. The trip was with some friends from his MBA program, and in those short two weeks, he'd gone from being my office husband to being someone I didn't know at all. Most telling was his conversion from vegetarian to carnivore. His wife was a vegetarian, and had been for years before she met him. He converted to vegetarianism shortly into their marriage--nearly ten years--but returned from Cape Cod a carnivore. I didn't believe him. I bet him it wasn't true, and told him that if we went to lunch and he ate a meat burger, I'd pay. He ordered a bacon cheeseburger, and I could see the defiance in his eyes at first bite. It was that moment that I felt that the person he was, was gone, and I was right. Thanks to the fact that we worked together five days a week, ours was a long, drawn out goodbye, that finally came to a full conclusion when he was fired. Even though he revealed his true colors in the year before he was fired, and even more so after the firing, I still long for him in some ways, when things feel tough for me. In being my office husband, his job included reminding me of how cute I am. I don't have that ego boost anymore.

I know the exact moment my relationship with my ex-husband came to an end, too.

On a Sunday, he wanted to go four-wheeling with some friends early in the day. I had no problem with this--I enjoy my quiet time on Sunday mornings to read my newspapers and enjoy my coffee in peace. I did, however, want to go to a movie that afternoon, so I made it very clear that he needed to be home by 1:30, so he could be ready to leave by 2:00.

So, I waited. And I waited. When he hadn't called to say he was on his way by 1:00, I decided I'd get ready and go to the movie by myself, without him. The movie was (500) Days of Summer, and in my small-ish community, independent films are shown on short-lived runs, so I knew I had to go that day, or risk not seeing it.

When he finally called--at 1:55--I calmly told him I was going alone. I felt disrespected since he could not even manage to come home to do something with me, but I wasn't going to let it ruin my day.

It was after 2:00 when he finally walked in the door. The movie started at 2:30, and was a good 20-minute drive. Like a teenager caught after curfew, he insisted it wasn't his fault and that he could get ready *that* fast. Since he took nearly as long to get ready as I do, I knew this was a lie.

In earlier stages in our marriage, I would've been furious. However, on this day, I was not, probably due to a combo of age and meds.

I calmly slipped my wedding ring off, put it on the counter, and walked out the door.

It was the first time I'd ever done anything alone. Sure, I'd been grocery shopping or to Target by myself, but never to a movie or out to eat. I was shocked at how liberated I felt, to be out and doing something for myself, sans wedding ring.

I enjoyed the movie, due in part to the fact that in my afterlife, I secretly hope that I come back as Zooey Deschanel, with her enormous blue doe-eyes and dark, dark hair.

When I got home, my wedding ring was still laying on the counter, and my ex-husband was in bed, napping. He had no remorse, no regret, for the fact that his failure to do the one thing I asked of him--show up on time to take me to a movie on a Sunday afternoon--resulted in me being so hurt that I was no longer wearing my wedding ring. His attitude was that of complete nonchalance, and that was when I knew: not only did he not respect me, he took me for granted.

It was roughly five months after (500) Days of Summer that our marriage ended for real. My only regret was that I didn't do it five months--or 500 days--sooner.

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