Last night I had to do something very difficult. I had to see my soon-to-be-ex one last time—quite possibly for the very last time—to return a few things and have him sign one last set of papers.
It was difficult to see him.
He looks different; he seems to be growing a beard, and I’m not sure what I think of this on him. There’s something different about his eyes as well, though it’s not something I could put my finger on.
We were quite civil in person; complained briefly about the arrogance of the lawyer who had explained the paperwork to me, asked about superficial things, procedural things. I commented on a new DVD rack in the living room; he told me it had been on sale at Meijer.
We sat there on that green couch which had so recently been our couch, not just his, and went over papers. How many naps have I taken on that couch? How many bad sci-fi movies and how many hockey games have I watched curled up in that one particular corner where I always sat?
And then it was done, and I tossed out the little scrap papers from one of the carbon copies. I looked once more into his eyes as I was leaving. For just one brief second, I thought I saw through to that soul I thought I had known, and in that second I opened myself again, just one brief second of shared grief, one tiny piece of longing for what might have been. Then a shift of some sort, a change, and he was closed off to me as had become so common in our last months together. It was done, and I withdrew.
I thanked him for being cooperative with signing the papers. I told him to take care of himself. Then out the door of that house we might have shared, out into the warm air and bright evening. Down the street and back to the freeway, windows down, my hair blowing back, singing softly with the radio as I drove southward to my own small home, where I’d have a friend waiting to check on me and my guinea pig would be squeaking for a second serving of dinner, my new life and my old life beginning at last to settle into some new thing which is wholly my own.