Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just as Screwed as Me

I live in a middle-sized city in northeastern Minnesota. It's small enough to be cliquish and gossipy, and not big enough to be considered urban or at all hip.

Because of the relative smallness of the area, the local newspaper prints "Matters of Record". Matters of Record consist of court reports for trivial misdemeanor crimes, property sale transactions, bankruptcies, and my personal favorite, marriage license applications and divorces.

The marriage license and divorce section only comes once a month, usually the second Friday of the month. Typically, when I grab my newspaper that morning, I remember what day it is, and I briefly get excited, because there's sometimes little else to be excited about in my life. Ten years ago, I would've been more interested in the marriage section rather than the divorce section, because no one I knew was getting divorced and everyone I knew was getting married. Now I am far more interested in the divorce section. Not only do I get to see who is just as screwed as me, but occasionally I see the name of someone that I would possibly consider dating once his divorce is final.

January was an especially frustrating month for me, because Friday after Friday passed with no marriage and divorce records. I considered cancelling my newspaper subscription, based on the lack of gossip it was providing me. But the payoff of that is when they did finally print this information, it was two months at once, so there was a lot to review.

As I was scanning the divorce section last week, I was delighted to see the name of an ex best friend. We had been best friends ten years ago, when we worked together at a cell phone store. She was ten years older than me, and in my opinion, the epitome of glamour and fun. She had a bit of a drinking problem, but that suited me just fine, since I was 21 and liked going to bars. Unfortunately, she got three DUIs in a time frame of six months and had to go to jail. It was work-release jail, but nonetheless, it was jail. It was a rough 60 days, having to pick her up and drop her off at the jail each day. Plus, we could never go shopping or out to lunch, because it would seem that "work release" actually requires "working", not shopping or lunching.

After her jail sentence was up, she had three months of house arrest. This was again not great for the social life, but we made do, and I made out with her roommate, the brother of her sister-in-law. A few months after her house arrest ended, she met her future husband. At a bar, natch. Because where else would you meet your prospective life mate?

They had a whirlwind romance, consisting of one unplanned pregnancy, one abortion and one engagement, all over a four-month period. I was the maid of honor at their wedding, and by then, I was engaged to one of the groom's friends. It was a great day, if you exclude the fact that I got car sick on the trolley ride to the reception and that my shoes damn near cut my toes off.

As the months passed, we grew apart. We no longer worked together, so we didn't have that 40-hour-a-week contact. She got pregnant three months after her wedding, so that temporarily curbed her alcoholism. I ended my engagement with her husband's friend so I could date my now ex-husband, causing palpable tension in the group. The last time I saw her was about a week after her son was born, when she stopped by to show him off. He was born three days before their first wedding anniversary.

As the years passed, I'd occasionally see her name in the Matters of Record court section. I saw that she'd gotten a fourth DUI, and that she'd been charged with domestic assault, a story I'd sure like to hear but bet I never will.

About a year ago, I ran into her at the mall. I didn't know that she had a three-year-old daughter. She didn't know that I had a two-year-old daughter. She bragged on and on about her terrific life--her husband's fabulous engineering job, her perfect kids, the house they built, the enhancements she was getting on her already huge engagement ring. I wasn't even wearing my engagement ring, because it was during one of the many brief separations I had with my ex, before we actually got separated. She didn't notice this, and asked how my husband was. I lied and said he was fine.

Over the years, I used to wonder how her husband could deal with her alcoholism and her apparent domestic abuse. After seeing that they are now divorced, I guess I know the answer to that.

So, needless to say, after the impression that her life was perfect just barely a year ago, it did fill me with a sense of delight to see her name in the divorce section, to know that even though she put up a facade, her world was really crumbling around her. Plus, there is always comfort in knowing that other people you know are just as screwed in this world as you are.

No comments:

Post a Comment