My Life In 10 Minutes (short pieces written in about 10 minutes)

Meant To Be

Yesterday was my 15th wedding anniversary. Not our. My. We are divorced, he is remarried. According to my church I am still married, because in my church divorce is a human construct that doesn’t really exist in God’s world, and if I want to get married again, I have to prove to my church that I was never really married in the first place. Not in a legal way, in a spiritual way. I have to prove that while there was a wedding, there wasn’t a marriage.

It’s called an annulment and is not too hard to get, although it certainly sounds intimidating. It involves gathering evidence and making a written report about what happened. It’s based on the condition of both people at the time they took their vows, not about what happened afterward.

That’s good, because after I took my vows I had three children with this man, and built a home and a life with him. That’s a marriage by most people’s definition.

I got married because he asked. I got married because I believed God wanted me to. I got married because I believed it was meant to be. I still do. My three children are my proof.

But “meant to be” is not the same as “meant to last.” The God who called me into this marriage was the God who called Jesus to the cross, and He was the God who called me out of it. I believe the divorce was meant to be. And meant to last. My former husband’s baby boy is my proof, and as I watch him grow from every-other-weekend drop-offs, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God works in mysterious, painful, beautiful ways.

My Life In 10 Minutes (short pieces written in about 10 minutes), Uncategorized

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Right now I am sitting on a wrought iron bed in a cozy front bedroom in a country cottage, windows open, the Alleghenies, a light cool breeze blowing through, the scent of bacon wafting through the house. It is beautiful here, from the scenery to the rustic yet luxurious furnishings. Last night I slept with the windows open to the sound of raindrops on the tin porch roof. This is the kind of place in which I’d like to live, a perpetual vacation surrounded by woods and mountain views.

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But if I lived in vacation accommodations year round, it wouldn’t feel like a vacation, would it? I know that. It is the change of venue that makes it a vacation, and the change of routine. Right now I have no particular demands on my time, but even when I’m home, I’m mostly in charge of my schedule. My deadlines are self-imposed, the result of my choice to support my kids’ various activities, to take on a particular freelance project. Even my day job allows me flexibility. The fact that I don’t have to maintain this lovely home on the hill is exactly what makes it a vacation. Maintenance, no matter how lovely the setting, is the drudgery.

I suppose even if I were paying someone to keep my house and make my meals, there would be other activities of maintenance that would drag me down. The “ladies that lunch” who frequent the nearby Homestead Resort in posh style probably complain about the drudgery of their demanding social lives. For them, and maybe even occasionally for me, the folding of clothes and washing of dishes could be a vacation if it is out of the regular routine.

I have a deep longing to live life as if it were a vacation, yet I know this would be a life of perpetual discontent as “vacation” becomes its own routine. Escape from routine is what I crave, simultaneously knowing that it’s routine that keeps my life from going completely off the rails.

The obvious solution is to travel more frequently (but not too frequently), to give myself breaks from routine, even if I don’t know what to do with myself when I take them. Did I mention the bed I’m sitting on is perfectly made, pillows fluffed and throw blanket carefully replaced at my feet? I made my bed on vacation.

My Life In 10 Minutes (short pieces written in about 10 minutes), Uncategorized

Bread and Milk

The first snow of the season is gently falling this Sunday morning and most of Richmond has been to the grocery store for bread and milk. I’m in the middle of a 14-day detox from gluten and dairy and sugar and caffeine, and I’ve gone to the grocery store for organic lemon and cranberry juice because I’ve run out of these ingredients essential for my three times daily detox drink. The Food Lion down the road was out, presumably because my neighbors who got me into this thing have been there already. So I had to go to the west end for lemon juice.

Most of Richmond is snugly watching the snowfall from the warmth of their homes. I am driving west on Mechanicsville Turnpike. The road dead ends at a park that overlooks Shockoe Bottom and the Richmond skyline. I discovered it last fall and wondered then what it would look like in a snowfall, so I drive through the “projects” to get there, snap a picture, and find my way home via Church Hill, Laburnum, and eastern Henrico. I pass a church with a red lighted sign that shouts “PRAY” in all caps, and I marvel at how my higher power never ceases to speak to me when I’m alone and silent as the falling snow.

Driving familiar back roads, I ponder how others are in search of bread and milk while I’m in search of bitter beverages. And why. My mind wanders, feeling the depth of the question and not quite wanting to dive in, and considers the couple down the street who are divorcing. She apparently left. To my eyes, they were the perfect couple with perfect children and a perfect little home, inside and out, with everything in its place. On kindergarten orientation day when our daughters met because they sat at the same desk, I envied their coupleness as they filled out paperwork together. I wonder now if she saw me in my singleness, surviving, and thought it something to aspire to. I wish I could tell her that it wasn’t my first choice. It was never my first choice.

I think about the first house my ex-husband and I looked at, in a neighborhood somewhere off this road I’m driving. It was in the back of a cul de sac and had a basement, and the day we looked at it, there was snow. We rejected it because we didn’t like the color and we thought it was out of our price range, but by April, we had signed a contract on a purple house in Glen Allen that we knew we’d repaint and that cost us just as much and didn’t have a basement. I find myself wondering how different our lives might have been had we bought our first choice, had stayed at our old church, had started our family a 20 minute drive from our parents instead of two.

I feel a sudden urge. After 48 hours of inertia, my bowels are starting to move. I tighten my muscles and race to get home, passing four police cars going, thankfully, in the opposite direction. I burst in the front door with my bottle of lemon juice in hand and notice out of the corner of my eye, my Christmas tree still standing in the living room, white lights twinkling. The snow is a month too late, I think, yet grateful I’ve left it up if only to know what it would have been like to have a white Christmas. I sit on the toilet, relishing the relief of releasing the waste of what was left behind after my body took all the nutrients it could from two days worth of organic whole foods. I reach for the toilet paper, and the roll is empty. Bread and milk and toilet paper, I think, and make my way back to Food Lion.