Today would have been my seventh anniversary.
It was a clear November day. I saw snow flurries the day before, but that day was the best kind of fall day – a chill in the air, not a cloud in the sky – although I’m sure my bridesmaids are still mad at me for making them take pictures outside. It was a beautiful ceremony and a blast of a reception. My only regret that day was not even touching the pumpkin pie – a small detail over which I’d fought my mother tooth and nail, but that I didn’t even get to enjoy. Everything else felt just right – the dress, the music, the man. Especially the man.
For years, I couldn’t look at photos of that day without feeling nauseous. I tried to erase every detail of it from my memory. I’m better with that now – I can reminisce about the idiot we went to college with sleeping in the gym of the hotel or how my maid of honor got so drunk she missed a chair completely when trying to sit down. I can think about the details – the pumpkin pie, the music, my dress, my gorgeous, wonderful princess dress that I was and still am in love with – and not feel an overwhelming urge to cry.
Seven years. It’s equal parts unfathomable and perfectly reasonable. I have several friends who have already hit seven years. I have at least one who’s made it to ten. It doesn’t seem that implausible that I could (and should) be married for seven years today. The part that makes me catch my breath is that I’ve now been divorced for longer than I was actually married. That’s the part that I just can’t fully grasp.
The older we get, the faster time moves. The four years I spent in college feel like an eternity, but the past four years have flown by in the blink of an eye. I can’t compute it. I feel like I should have moved on much more than I actually have, that I should be further along in my life than I am. I have watched other people go through breakups and find new relationships. I’ve celebrated my friends’ promotions, weddings, babies, and new houses – gladly, as I’m thrilled for all of them. But I’m also constantly sizing myself up against the milestones that they’re hitting, knowing full well my life took a sharp left turn four years ago and any plans I had then were pushed far off course.
So I look at my life and wonder, well, what’s changed in four years? If I really want to make myself upset, I ask what’s changed in five years, from the point in time when I looked at my life and decided I wasn’t happy and wanted to go back to school. On the good days, I remind myself that I like my job now and don’t dread going there every day, that I’ve traveled and have met new, interesting people, or I remind myself that I live in the middle of the biggest metropolis in the world, rather than perhaps settling for a generic suburban house. On the bad days, I wonder if it’s all my fault, that my decision five years ago knocked over the first domino that led to the dissolution of my marriage just a year later.
I can’t help wondering that, even on the not so bad days. I did the math recently – since graduating college ten years ago, I have gone to at least 24 weddings, and was invited to at least four more I couldn’t attend. Of those 28 weddings, only one couple is no longer married, a divorce rate of only 3.6%.
I know I’m only in my early 30s. There will, sadly, be more divorces. Statistically, there have to be. I like the vast majority of these couples. I want my friends to be happy and not in pain. But I can’t help thinking, on the rare occasion, that I just want one of them to go through it. Just one. To know what it feels like, to make me feel like I’m not the only one, to reassure me that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t do something to screw up, that there was nothing I could do to prevent what happened.
I selfishly want that… and yet I don’t.
So for now, today, all I can do is just put one step in front of the other, one day at a time. Today, seven years later, is just another day now. It’s not a day when I want to crawl into bed crying. It’s just another cold Monday in November, with meetings and emails to reply to and grocery shopping to do.
That’s when I realize that the passage of time is real – that it is just another day and that part of my life really is behind me. It doesn’t always feel that way, but today it kind of does.