Category Archives: Transition

Furniture shopping

A first: going into a furniture store alone

After a lovely happy hour with a friend yesterday, I decided to brave a new frontier – the furniture store. I only had one glass of wine so I figured it was safe.

Now, these can be pretty intimidating, even with a spouse. Not to mention overwhelming – the choices, the styles, the prices, the salespeople.

And, boy, there’s nothing that makes you feel quite so alone as the realization that the choice of couch color and style is completely up to you.

I circled the entire showroom twice, maybe three times. I pictured myself sitting on the couches, the dogs lying on the couches. I envisioned vacuuming behind them, moving them. I took down measurements. I bought nothing. Of course, I didn’t expect to really buy anything. This is a major purchase, and I refuse to make it standing on one foot. I felt no pressure. I took photos of stuff I liked, but that’s all I walked out with.

I looked at the only other customers in the store: a young couple with a new baby. I remember those days. It seems like it was both yesterday and a lifetime ago. They were excited to be making a purchase, heads together, whispering, no doubt, about how they could afford the purchase, would it survive their children (answer: no), would it fit in the living room… It’s almost hard to believe that they and I are in the same universe sometimes. If this was a movie, the scene would flip from the young couple to Mr. Ex and me 30 years ago. That scene would be faded-looking, clearly the 70’s (elephant bell bottoms, anyone?), but we would be just as hopeful, just as clearly children playing at being grownups. The first furniture purchase – the upgrade from hand-me-downs, college-era, potchkeyed-together stuff.

The following scenes, of course, would show the transitions – sitting on the couch as we held the first baby, cleaning up the spit-up, discovering the cushion that oldest had flipped over after spilling milk on it, waking Mr. Ex at 2:00 am after he would fall asleep watching TV. Arguing after he told me he wanted a divorce.

Wow. You can go through a lot while shopping for furniture. Today I’m looking at what I have to see if any of it will work – maybe I don’t have to buy something else after all.

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Filed under Haven for one, Transition

Snobbery, and a trip to the grocery store

Snobbery

I really never considered myself a snob. Well, much.

Hard reality: yesterday I had coffee with a really nice, highly intelligent man (we met on Brainiacdating.com – seriously). I was enjoying the conversation, even though I suspected that there is no possibility of more than coffee. He has an adult son with autism, and is pretty upfront about being committed to taking care of him.

All was well. Until he mentioned the new Pergo throughout the double-wide.

Done.

The grocery store
– I’m taking myself on a field trip to a grocery store later today. I realize that to you, the general, food-eating public, this is not momentous. People go to grocery stores all the time. Even single people. Even newly-divorced, “I don’t know how to cook for one after cooking for four” people.

I have gone grocery shopping since Mr. Ex moved out. But it’s been more of the “run in, buy yogurt, run out” shopping, unless I was entertaining (which, frankly, I didn’t do much in the last year). What have I been eating? For the most part, particularly since youngest moved out, it’s been quickie meals; roast chicken; take out; eat at oldest’s; happy hour (okay, quite a few of THOSE). Eggs. Bagels. You get my drift, I’m sure.

I realized this week that taking care of myself must include indulging in something that I’ve always enjoyed, which is cooking and baking. The whole onion roll adventure was part of that, and last week’s beef bourguignon and chicken enchilada soup day was another. So, today, I’m taking myself to a NEW grocery store (well, new to me), Perusing without a list. Gasp – buying on impulse. Because I want it.

The problem, of course, is that if I cook it’s too much for one. Perhaps having ComEd come out last week to take away my old full-size freezer was not the best timing. But I may have a solution to that. I found out yesterday that our school secretary and his live-in girlfriend are a little low on cash (how shocking – a colleague of mine not making enough money to live . . . she says with a touch of irony). He already works a second job, but I guess things are still tight. I’m guessing that they may be willing to help me out with the leftovers . . .

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Filed under Cooking for one, Dating, Online dating, Transition

Half or whole?

638491_applesI ran into an old acquaintance yesterday. As we caught up on the news of our families I braced myself for the inevitable, “and how’s your other half?”

Sure enough, standing among the new tires, sunroom salesmen and fresh baked goods at Sam’s Club, the question arose.

I replied that there was no other half any more – that we were divorced. I gave my stock two-minute explanation: “Last September, Mr. Ex informed me that he was done. We separated in September and were divorced this past August. We had a rough past few years and I’m fine, really. I’m grateful that I can afford to stay in the house and take care of the dogs.” The dog comment was more because of the bigger-than-my-car bag of dog biscuits in my shopping cart.

Clearly this acquaintance doesn’t need the whole story. At this point, anybody who doesn’t know about the divorce doesn’t need to hear that. The conversation pretty much took a dive at that point. People don’t know whether to say “mazel tov!” or “I’m sorry,” and awkwardness ensues. And I hate the pitying kind of look that inevitably comes along with it. My meatballs were defrosting and I was running late for my happy hour date with two women from my divorce support group anyway, so I kind of cut it short.

Driving away, I thought a lot about the ‘other half’ comment. If I no longer have an other half, does that mean I’m a whole now? Is it better to be half than whole? Is half of crappy better than all of less crappy? Of course. Do I feel whole? Is whole the opposite of being without one’s half? Do you feel whole right away or is there a transition to whole like the images on a calendar as we go from a new moon to a full moon?

This is where my black or white thinking gets in the way. I tend to forget that nothing is all-the-time. Sometimes I feel whole and sometimes I don’t. But I do know that it’s better to live alone and occasionally be lonely – occasionally feel like something is missing – than it is to live with someone and feel like something is missing.

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Elul reflections

We are in the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish calendar. As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, we take time during Elul to reflect on the waning year and to prepare for the time of renewal that the High Holy Days bring.

As I reflect on the last year – and on the previous 30 years – I’m trying to use this as a road map for the coming year.

I don’t regret doing the things I did to give my children as wonderful a childhood as I could. And I am reaping the richness of doing so; my daughters are amazing individuals who live their lives with integrity, purpose, kindness and conviction. I stayed in my marriage because I thought that was best for my family and, even though the marriage has ended, I still believe that it was a good decision (btw – it’s taken almost a year of therapy to say that). I also benefited from my decision in many ways; I have a career I love, with colleagues I love, and have found ways to earn a reasonable living doing it. I developed a strength that I may not have developed in a different relationship – a strength that serves me well today.

Of course I have some regrets. I worry that the strength I nurtured will make it difficult for me to ever enter into a relationship with a real man. Not a real man as opposed to a fantasy man, of course, but a mature, responsible man with a genuine sense of self. I worry that my “guard” will be too hard to break down. But I’m starting to understand that that will take time – and the right person – to address.

My more immediate regret is that I subjugated myself in so many ways. And I see this same subjugation in many of my friends. Because we moms and wives put everyone else’s needs in front of our own, we forget who we are and ignore the things that nurture us.

In my own case, I’m talking about my creative energy. Over the last year I realized that my energy went into my family; making the best home I could with limited resources, giving my girls things like camp, and propping up my husband for thirty years. Again – I have no regrets. I made these choices as a free woman and I would do it all over again (although I do think that I would have ended the marriage five years ago, rather than working so hard to repair it at that point).

All the things that bother me about my home seem to stem from the lack of creative appearance. I want color, texture and inspirational surroundings. My wardrobe is the same – I want to wear what reflects on the outside what’s on the inside (rather than what, sadly, fits and is affordable). I want to entertain creatively and live creatively, too.

I’m going to start a creative journal – one in which I reflect each day how I’ve done something creative to enhance my home, my wardrobe and my social life. I think it may have to be unelectronic, because I’d like to use watercolors and ink, but I’ll try to scan pages where I can.

In closing, I quote the great American prophet, Tina Turner. Seriously – can you imagine anyone better to look to when transforming your life?

Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.

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Filed under Creating a new life, Haven for one, Moving on, Singleness, Transition

Update

Laura yelled at me because I haven’t been updating enough, so here you go . . .

I changed my JDate profile after my virtual meeting with E. I’ve emailed a few new men, but have had no responses. None! Sigh.

I was supposed to go to lunch with a nice man who I met on OKCupid (I’ve been out with him once for sushi already). I decided to cancel. He’s unemployed, drives a car with no air conditioning, and has a foster daughter who’s in and out of rehab. Sadly, I just decided that this is just not a road I want to travel. Does that make me callous? I’m struggling with that.

So what have I been doing that I’ve enjoyed? Painting, crafting, perusing shelter magazines to figure out how to redo my home. Cleaning out the office, throwing shit away. Taking stuff to Goodwill and getting rid of unwanted items on Freecycle. Did you know that you could even find someone to take your old hamster cage? Yuck.

The problem is that these things strike me as being so, well, solitary.

My mother was always a loner. When we were on vacation she would take the TV and put it in the doorway of the cottage we rented so that she could sit outside and watch her soaps. This, in a resort with dozens of other families. After my father died she led a very solitary life and enjoyed every minute of it. When we moved her into a beautiful assisted living facility with fabulous activities she did nothing. And was miserable because she had to eat dinner with other people.

I don’t want to turn into that. And I do enjoy being with other people.

But, wait, I am with other people. I’m not eating dinner at home one night this week. My evenings are filled with dinners or happy hours out with friends. So what’s the problem?

Is it just that there isn’t anyone at home? Someone special?

This trying to figure out what you want stuff sucks. The options are almost overwhelming.

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Should I stay or should I go?

When Mr. Ex moved out I chose not to put the house on the market. Well, I chose not to, but I didn’t really have a choice. It was September, which, as a teacher, would have been torture. I can’t even imagine getting ready to sell a house at the beginning of the school year. My younger daughter had just started a new job which was literally a five-minute drive, and there was the little matter of a totally tanked economy with which to deal.

The other issue – not a small one, either – was the myriad projects to which Mr. Ex had committed. At the time I didn’t have a bedroom floor (seriously; I had pulled up the nasty carpet in preparation for Mr. Ex to put down a laminate floor, and it had been several weeks), several rooms don’t have floor molding (carpet came up, laminate went down), several ceilings have damage from when our roof leaked, and there are a couple doors that don’t have molding around them (we replaced all our doors with oak two years ago but Mr. Ex hadn’t put up all the molding). The garage and garden shed were also packed full – full – full.

So I say that I chose not to put the house up for sale, but I didn’t really have a choice. Mr. Ex likes to say that it was my choice, but I disagree.

Anyway, the decision has reared its ugly head once again. It’s summer, so I’m off, Ms. Youngest is leaving for Israel in 10 days (oh my) and the economy isn’t quite in the toilet any more.

So . . . do I stay or do I go?

I would love to sell the house and buy something a little smaller closer to Ms. Eldest and her husband. It wouldn’t be any further from work than I am now, I’d be much closer to the highway (not as big of a deal since my mother has passed, but nice nonetheless), I could be saving money over what I’m paying now, and a fresh start would be nice.

On the other hand, it would be a pain. All those projects Mr. Ex promised . . . not exactly done. Not hardly. I still have the damaged ceilings, the garage still has a lot of crap in it, the shed is still full, and the molding is still missing from one room. The economy hasn’t bounced back to the point where I would actually make any money from selling the house and I would be lucky to break even (which would mean that I would have to use my modest inheritance from my mother in order to purchase anything new).

If I stay I would have to continue to streamline, purge, and make changes to make the house “mine.”

So . . . do I stay or do I go?

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Filed under Creating a new life, Haven for one, Moving on, Transition

Mother’s Day

A week or so ago my older daughter noted that was some kind of cruel joke that my first Mother’s Day as a separated person also fell on Mr. Ex’s 52nd birthday.

could it be worse?

Uh huh. My mother passed away early Wednesday morning after a battle with lung cancer. We were not unprepared, but you’re never completely prepared.

We’re following the Jewish custom of shiva, which is where you open your home to visitors to pay condolence calls for a period of time. It’s traditionally followed for seven days, but we only did two. Since you don’t “sit shiva” on Shabbat, we accepted visitors on Friday after the funeral and will be again this afternoon. So now you can add shiva for mom to the whole Mother’s Day/birthday mix.

Meh.

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