Better Without You

What if the first song David and I danced to was “So High” by John Legend instead of “Forever” by Ben Harper? What if my mother had never died? What if my dad had never died? What if I hadn’t moved to New York City? The number of what-ifs I could ask myself and whoever would be so kind as to listen are endless but that was the thought that entered my mind this evening as “So High” began playing on my Pandora. Probably because that was the song I always foresaw myself getting married to should that day ever present itself. The eerie what-if entered my mind as a sort of superstition as if something as simple as the song we first danced to as an official married couple that hot, July afternoon could have anything to do with the outcome of our marriage; The dozens of pictures of us in each other’s arms, slow dancing in sweet reverie to Ben Harper begging, “Give me your forever…”

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It probably has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome but one can ponder, especially when one is out of divorce limbo and in the finality of grieving a great loss. Though, I’ve reached the point where I can confidently proclaim that the immense loss isn’t so much mine as it is his. Sadly, I’m not sure that is an accurate depiction of David’s feelings but what he feels is simply irrelevant to me now and not because I wanted that to be the case but because after all this time, it had to be.

There was a time when I truly believed we’d conquer all odds, overcome any trials and tribulations that stood in our course, for better or for worse as we vowed – we were better together as we reiterated countless times over the phone across great distances, echoing Jack Johnson’s aptly named tune, and whispered in the middle of the darkest part of the nights to each other as we fell asleep, hand in hand. The present reality is that I’m better without him though better having once loved him. I’m surprisingly reaching a conclusion that finds me feeling deep gratitude for that tumultuous three plus years of my life. Whether I have been making progress toward this point the entire two years and ten months since we decided to part ways or I simply didn’t realize I was already in the midst of this gratitude until I held the finalized divorce papers in my hand this past Saturday will remain a mystery.

A Champagne Toast

I had it in my whimsical mind that beautiful, spring morning in New York City that one should dress up for such occasions. I wore this midi length, violet hued short sleeve dress with a high-waist belt and, of course, heels. David was equally as put together as we jauntily waltzed into 141 Worth Street in lower Manhattan to obtain our marriage license. And that night, after work, we excitedly made our way to 230 5th – the rooftop bar where we’d claimed to have fallen in love almost two years prior – in our fancier than usual attire to celebrate this momentous day. With champagne in hand, my husband to be and I toasted to us, to the life we were already creating together against a stunning backdrop of fake palm trees and the Manhattan skyline, the mesmerizing sunset easily stealing the show with the iconic Empire State Building coming in at a close second.

It was there, on that very rooftop, two years prior that I had asked this person before me, “Where did you come from?” as if he was some never before seen or experienced alien life form from Mars and by the entanglement of butterflies in my stomach and the way I kept losing my breath every time our eyes met, I might have actually speculated such. The truth, however, was that I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for someone as quickly as I did and my verbalized question was more of a million thoughts – “How did this happen? Why is this happening? Oh my God – No and Yes” – all in those five little words. My question was a simpler way of interrogating the Universe’s plan and the soundness of my own decisions in a city that wasn’t even my home yet, in a city that had inexplicably claimed my beating heart for so many years. When David responded, “The same place as you,” all of those questions, speculations, concerns and trepidations flew off the side of that skyscraper, on to the trash-lined sidewalk of Fifth Avenue. My only available transportation left was a leap of faith.

Our official meeting in July of 2010 was a serendipitous account of unrelated, idealistic circumstances that by even the most starry-eyed, hopeless romantic’s standards would be deemed a fictional story. It was so uncanny that our friends and family members would ask to hear a retelling of the account, intently listening to each of our perspectives with such palpable attention, it had the ability to recreate those butterflies in my stomach. Even I had vowed one day to write the story as if it were a young adult novel with fictitious characters based heavily upon what David and I were toasting atop that rooftop in early June of 2012, just a month shy of our wedding date.

I certainly didn’t anticipate this fairy tale’s ending to be anything less than a happily ever after with potential room for a sequel. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and while that fairy tale ended quite some time ago, its official and legal ending arrived today in the form of a large manila envelope addressed to Lindsay Taylor (insert my married surname), which is no longer my surname as of May 18th, 2016. After a tumultuous, seemingly unending, almost three-year process, that marriage license, that David and I were celebrating when he snapped my picture in my violet dress in the evening’s glow of the setting sun, is no longer valid.

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After all of the countless Mondays through Saturdays that I’ve patiently walked to my mailbox, anticipating that very envelope I found there today, one would expect me to be relieved, overjoyed, even jumping with sheer delight! And while relief is certainly profoundly present and I was clearly excited, shaking with overdue expectation as I ripped open the envelope – sadness is also a glaringly prominent emotion. So is a sense of failure. I suppose in layman’s terms, one could deem the surreal and somewhat shocking day as bittersweet. It tastes like dark chocolate mixed with fresh blood, the kind of blood from all the metaphorical punches thrown, the figurative scratch and bite marks that we leave upon another’s life that can act as an open wound at any given moment. Today, my wounds were gouged wide open as the date May 18, 2016 was repeatedly stamped all over the paperwork in front of me and the stupid legal description, “dissolution of marriage,” in its stupid serif font recurred along every other line. Today, I was reminded of all of the reasons why I married this person who had come from the same place I had and all of the reasons why I no longer am.

I Don’t Fuck with Peoples’ Lives

A Righteous Revival

I was relaxing, bathing in the pink bathtub of my West Hollywood apartment, excitedly talking on the telephone with David.  He had told me he loved me as we sat on a rooftop while the New York skies began to rain upon us.  I had yet to reciprocate a response utilizing those eight letters that make up those three words.

Instead, I was on the telephone, thousands of miles away, asking him how he could be so certain about me, about us – how he knew I was “the one,” how he knew that he was in love with me.  Needless to explain, I was quite the skeptic at the tender age of twenty-five.  Though I knew in my heart that I, too, was madly in love with this twenty-one year old from New York, I was scared as shit!  Foreshadowing, again?  Perhaps, I’ll never know.

While I eventually verbally…

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And then There is David

He’s a jerk, Linds,” my aunt said to me tonight in regards to David and the finalization of this divorce, to which I correctly replied, “No, Nance, there are jerks and then there is David.”

There was a time where no matter what I did – be it cry uncontrollably, involuntarily drool, drip snot down my freshly cleaned blouse from a cold, spill copious amounts of food upon my lap, non discreetly snort when I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants, my ex-husband found me irresistible – he found me appealing, lovable. He still loved every inch of my mind, body and soul. There was a time when I felt it, too – A time when there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that David would love me for forever and a day.

Only a month shy of our one-year wedding anniversary, David and I were “on the rocks.” He was away, “clearing his head” in New York while I remained in Los Angeles, “holding down the fort.” I was damn near believing we were “over,” our marriage was nearing its end what with his dramatic phone call in which he resentfully stated, “I loved you,” (take note of the past tense) followed by hanging up the telephone on me in the middle of the night. I don’t have proof but I am about 99.9% certain that alcohol had influence upon these histrionics.

The following night, I went to bed as usual, anticipating David’s return later the following evening. Around four in the morning, like clockwork, I awoke from my meager slumber, walked the length of our North Hollywood apartment to the kitchen to feed the cats and walked back to my bed. As I lay there half awake, I began hearing a foreign noise, a noise one should not be hearing at such wee hours of the morning. After about twenty seconds of this noise, I fully awoke to the alarming realization that someone was trying to break into my apartment.

As I held my breath, I recognized the sound of someone throwing his/her entire weight against my front door, attempting to bust the lock. I immediately jumped out of bed, grabbed my cell phone and crawled on all fours into the hallway, my heart pounding in my ears and sweat forming upon my forehead. If my cats were at the door, I told myself, then my keen senses and instincts were correct. My head cautiously rounded the doorway in the dark and much to my fear, both of my furry companions were standing alert, at the door – my oldest, the protective one, begun to meow loudly.

I called my best girlfriend, Sandy, who offered to hurry over, gun in tow. I declined as the sound of the front door banging ceased and my oldest cat jumped up in the window, appearing to watch someone from our second floor apartment.

Hang up the phone and call the cops now. And then call me back,” Sandy instructed. I followed her orders.

Long story short, no one and nothing was discovered. I told myself that someone was drunk and forgot where he/she lived though the significant timing of my husband being absent for days reluctantly forced me to think negatively. I felt as if someone had been watching me, knowing that I was presently alone at my home and attempted to take advantage.

That day, I had posted on Facebook about the early mornings’ frightening events and, of course, David saw this. He immediately phoned me as I was getting myself ready for work, assuring me that, “You know no matter what is going on between us, you can always call me if something like that happens.”

I guess he still loves me after all, I warmly thought to myself. Not that I ever doubted this amongst his dramatics but nonetheless, it still hurts, to say the bare minimum, to hear your husband tell you that he loved you, past tense.

In all honesty, I couldn’t wait to greet David upon his arrival home from New York that evening. I was so eager to throw my arms around his body and feel the warm security of his skin against mine. The early mornings’ events had rattled my sense of safety and it was true – no matter what we were going through, we wouldn’t wish harm upon the other.

The incident brought a sad sense of false intensity to our relationship, however. It created this illusion that we needed each other so how could we end things right then, especially with our one year anniversary approaching in a couple of weeks?

I often ask why, as humans, we don’t behave in this way naturally? Why must it take a potentially life threatening event to create a sense of urgency, to express how much we care, how much we love another person? It’s this ideal sense of loving hard and deeply, no matter what the circumstances, that have pitted me into a small and lonely space, one where I feel as if I’m the only person in the world who loves in this intense and committed manner.

As the sound of David’s footsteps became audible that evening, I anxiously anticipated his key in the lock, silently questioning whether or not he couldn’t wait to throw his arms around me either. Thankfully, he felt the urgency as much as I. The loving look upon his face, when he walked through our front door, made me walk toward him as he met me halfway. Now that I think about it, it was probably the last amazingly heartfelt hug we exchanged before our marriage came to its end, the kind of hug where the emotions are so heightened and you can tell that neither one of you desire to let go.

We agreed that we just needed to “start over” if there could ever be such a feat achieved. This fantasy lasted for about two weeks until things sped downhill once again – more like freefell. Some of the worst fights I can recall within David and I’s three year relationship occurred in the two and a half weeks between our July 9th anniversary and the early morning of the 29th when all was finally lost.

It may sound as if I’m reminiscing when in fact I actually began the retelling of this story above back in April of 2014. As I read through it, I felt the urge to edit quite a bit of it but I thought maybe it more appropriate to just exhibit the immense change that has taken place in what I have to say now.

I honestly cannot remember the feeling any longer, the love that I had for this person that I speak of every now and then, this person that I cannot wait to never have to speak of or to again. This is one of the things that I wonder if I may be dissociating from but dissociation implies that the feeling is still there somewhere and I can call on it at will. I’ve tried.

The memory of the feeling is there somewhere but the actual feeling is not. I feel like cueing the “aww” but while this may initially appear sad, it’s probably for the better. His vindictive, immature, hateful and cruel disposition made it easier for me to make the decision to end my marriage and not remembering how or why I once loved this person so much that I vowed my life to him is an ounce of relief. I won’t lie and tell you that I’m not often reminded of what a huge mistake I made and I am certain this self-ridicule will wither once he decides to figure out what is stalling our divorce.

One of my dear friends once stated accurately, and I paraphrase, “If David spent as much time on his relationship as he does on his dramatics then maybe they could actually work things out.”

It wasn’t the first time he had told me he didn’t love me anymore. The first time was in New York right before our big move to LA – only that time the sentiment was, “I’m not sure if I love you anymore.” As you can imagine a newlywed wife may feel, it was hysteria inducing.

Today, at 8:04 p.m. on October 6th, 2015, I am laughing out loud. Perhaps because the memory is just too painful and I’ve detached myself, or perhaps because I know I would never allow anyone to infiltrate and fuck with my life in that manner ever again. The extremity of the situation is comical after so much time. Or perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

I am still an idealist who loves hard and deeply but I now know whom not to love hard and deeply.

Hate Me So Good

What I want from you is empty your head and they say be true and don’t stain your bed but we do what we need to be free. And this leans on me just like a rootless tree…”

The above are not my words but lyrics written by the talented recording artist, Damien Rice. By now, if you’ve been following my blog closely, you recognize what an important role music has played in my life since I was the size of a fingertip lounging in my mama’s womb.   I would guesstimate that about 85% or more of my posts have included some reference to music. It would also be accurate to state that it’s almost physiological and there is a soundtrack playing in my head 24/7. My family, friends, coworkers and neighbors could vouch for me as they’re subjected daily to my instantaneous references to random songs during regular conversation or endless sing-a-long.

Yeah, that project is put on hold so we can stop,” my art director approaches my desk to inform me and I respond by singing The Supremes, “in the naaaaaame of love! Think it o-over!” Giggles abound all around at my quirkiness.

Most of the time I have the perfect song to fit every mood, situation, conversation, memory, what have you but every now and then, I must search or patiently wait until I hear it or it comes to me. After Sunday’s unfortunate encounter with David, I went home in need of a song, even a line in a song, something, anything to describe exactly how I feel about him presently. It didn’t come to me until the following morning while working on Disney princess graphics at my desk. My iPod was on shuffle, volume on full blast, earphones in and Damien Rice’s raw and emotional, “Rootless Tree” began. It was like swimming in a dark sea, wondering which direction was up and out of the water when finally, I could see the light.

“…What I want from us is empty our minds and we fake the thoughts and fracture the times that we go blind when we needed to see. And this leans on me just like a rootless…”

When the poignant chorus began, it was like coming up out of that ocean, gasping for much needed oxygen.

Fuck you and all we’ve been through. I said leave it ‘cause it’s nothing to you and if you hate me, then hate me so good that you can let me out, let me out, let me out of this hell when you’re around…”

As tragically sad as the song obviously is, it is real and it describes my exact sentiments. While many would refrain from listening to it, it aids in my healing. It was the song I was searching for after Sunday’s spectacle and has been on repeat for the last few days. The chorus alone would have sufficed in its insulting common thought, “Fuck you and all we’ve been through.” Not to mention its effectual plea, “If you hate me, then hate me so good that you can let me out…” Insert heavy sigh right there.

Post Sunday’s, “Taxes and Twain” event, I self promoted myself to leader of the “David Haters” line whereas before I teetered back and forth between the “David Haters” and the “Non-Haters” but always mid-line – never leader. As someone who wholly believes that hating someone is self-inflicting harm what with the negative energy it takes to feel and exert such deep emotion, I’m also someone who believes in keeping it real. And right now, I hate him.

I have to gently console and remind my hateful side that it’s perfectly human to hate someone as much as I loved him and if you’ll notice I’m using past tense now when I speak of love. The reason for doing so is that I clearly see and understand the man I loved is completely gone and perhaps sadly but truly, never even existed but in my imagination. If anything good came of Sunday, it was the blatant reminder of why I’m getting a divorce. I didn’t fall in love with that person I was sitting next to in the tax office and I didn’t marry the boy that stood in the parking lot continually disregarding any and all responsibility as part of a committed union.

So,

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
And all we’ve been through
I said leave it, leave it, leave it
It’s nothing to you
And if you hate me, hate me, hate me, then hate me so good
That you can let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out

Let me out, let me out, let me out
‘Cause it’s hell when you’re around