I’m driving the boys to a birthday party about 20 minutes from home. M. was supposed to come along, too, but at the last minute he backed out – he had errands to run. Ai a stoplight a block from the party I happen to see a man who walks like M. emerge from the door of an apartment building. He holds a sheaf of rental literature. I see, but I don’t really see, that this man is wearing the jeans I bought him last month. The car behind me honks. My foot somehow knows to press the pedal.

December 7, 2009

M. comes home from work early so we can get the legal separation agreement notarized at the bank. He’s agreed to almost everything I asked. We split our assets; he’ll financially support me and the boys, then 5 and 8, until they graduate from high school. He’ll pay for college.  Essentially, he honors the pact the two of us made during our happier days – that I’d be a stay-at-home mom until the kids grew up.

Description: We split our assets & share legal custody

We split our assets & share legal custody

We share legal custody. I get sole physical custody, but the boys will spend three nights a week with him. M. gets to work around the clock to support two households instead of one. His every moment s accounted for; meanwhile, I get free time while the kids are at school and when they’re with him. “All this,” I inform M., with too little appreciation for what it’s costing him to do right by me and our sons, “is the price you’ll pay for your freedom”

December 23, 2009

We deliver The Speech to the kids as we rehearsed it yesterday with a therapist. Our story is that the divorce is not M.’s fault. Nor is it mine. We simply failed, together. Fate handed us lemonade and we somehow turned it into lemons.

Description: Our story is that the divorce is not M.’s fault. Nor is it mine. We simply failed, together

Our story is that the divorce is not M.’s fault. Nor is it mine. We simply failed, together

Later we take the boys to M.’s new apartment. I’m shocked at what a great job he’s done decorating. There’s an exquisite leather couch in the living room, the kind I always vetoed because it was too expensive.

Tonight M. will spend his first in his new home. Tomorrow morning he’ll pick up the boys from my house and take them to spend their first night with him, in the new apartment that Santa brought our family this year.

December 29, 2009

In an attempt to pull myself together I decide to go work out at the gym. I get in the car but it won’t start. The battery is dead because I left the interior light on. This is where I’d normally call my husband, but this isn’t his problem. Also, I don’t have a husband.

I walk next door, where four recent college grads – Dave, Nate, Larry and Laurence – live. Laurence is home and sweetly offers to jump the car. Between tries, we stand facing each other, and for some reason I blurt out, “I’ve never had to deal with this alone before. My husband just left me.”

Description: In an attempt to pull myself together I decide to go work out at the gym

In an attempt to pull myself together I decide to go work out at the gym

Poor Laurence is stunned. We have exchanged just a few smiles and hellos in the six months we’ve been neighbor. He reassures me that M. will certainly be back. When I shake my head, he become more determined than ever to bring my car back to life.

Later, during the record blizzards of 2010, Laurence and his roommates, unbidden, shovel me out after every snowstorm. They accept nothing in return but some meager offerings of homemade chocolate-chip cookies.

January 5, 2010

One of the first things I do to flex my independence is to cancel my TV service. I’ve been a fan, but with another adult in the house, you can hardly make such decisions unilaterally. Now I can, so I do.

Many friends exhibit more disbelief over the end of my TV series than the end of my marriage. Makes sense, I guess. Half of us eventually ditch our spouses. But who gets rid of her TV?

January 27, 2010

I’m at the Gap, where I stumble upon a clearance rack with a dozen pairs of men’s pants marked 90 percent off. Five of them are in M.’s size.

I’ve been buying his clothes since we were engaged. The day M. showed up at my parents’ house to ask them for my hand in marriage, he was wearing acid-washed jeans with a matching jacket. After that day he let me take over his wardrobe.

The pants are $4.99 each. I take them off the rack. I take them off again. What’s the etiquette of buying clothes for a man whose earnings pay your credit card bill; who is still your husband, but not really? I take the pants to the register.

Later I call a friend and tell her what I’ve done. I ask her if it’s weird. “Yes,” she sputters. “Don’t give them to him.”

“I couldn’t not buy them for $5!” I reason. “If I hadn’t bought these, then  next time he needed pants he would have bought them for $50 each, and that would have been $250 less that could have been spent on our kids.”

Silence. “Okay,” I sign. “It’s weird.”

In the end we decide that the kids will give the pants to M. for Father’s Day.

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