What do you do with a wedding portrait when the marriage is over?
Throwing it out seems inappropriate. That portrait two smiling kids in their mid-20s represents a lot of good times had and a lot of miles traveled. Ten years seems like a very long time ago.
We never hung that portrait. We were sharing a house with friends when we got married so we had no place to hang it. We should have hung it when we bought that condo in Las Vegas, but we didn’t and, like the man said, life happens when you’re making other plans.
I was going to finally have it matted and framed as an anniversary present this year but the frame shop was closed when I got there and I never got around to getting it done. She was supposed to book the trip for our second honeymoon but never did. Were I a man given to finding ominous portents in everyday life, I might say that all of this was a bad omen.
I was 19 when we met. She was a week short of her 19th birthday. It started off inauspiciously. I was hitting on her friend and she was play-fighting with some guys who lived upstairs from me. We were supposed to hang out as a group, but they all dropped out for one reason or another. She and I ended up alone. She and I ended up laying on the floor of her dorm room watching “Annie” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
That’s where we had our first kiss. When I really want to be sappy, I say that we’re still on our first date.
A week or two before Christmas, she told me she didn’t know if she still loved me. Last week she told me she didn’t.
We’re working on staying together. Officially, we’re not making any final decisions for another three weeks. But I don’t know if it’s possible to get over that hurdle. Love doesn’t cure everything, but it’s a good place to start.
Which leads to the central question: Is love something that grows from “like?” Can you charm someone into loving you? Or is love something that just happens? Is it beyond reason? A bolt from the blue, an all-or-nothing proposition that either happens or doesn’t?
We’ve all known people we SHOULD have been attracted to but … the magic wasn’t there. All the ingredients were in place, but the alchemy didn’t work. There was no “unreason” to fall in love.
I think it’s the latter and, if that’s the case, then … Then I don’t much like where all this is heading.
There’s no anger, really. Nobody did anything wrong. Frankly, anger would be easier. If she had something to point to, some irritating thing I could stop doing or some action I should START doing, that would be a step in the right direction. I can work with hate. Hate is an emotion of passion. A friend named Bridgettte once told me that a man had to spark an immediate, visceral reaction in her before she would date him. She could like him or she could despise him, but she had to have some strong feeling.
My wife doesn’t hate me. She doesn’t feel anything at all. Beyond a shared personal history and some vestigial remnants of what once was, I’m just another face in the daily parade. A pretty face, don’t get it twisted. (I didn’t want you to think I’d gone all emo.)
I don’t want to suggest this has been at all easy for her. The woman is at risk for dehydration from crying. It’s probably worse for her, to be honest. I’m mostly confused and sad. She adds guilt to that mix. There is no joy here.
I wish I could take that pain away from her. There was a time when I might have been able to.
So, what’s next? According to life expectancy charts, I’m middle-aged for a black man, so I’m thinking of getting a convertible and dating a 22-year-old. I’m gonna be that old guy at the club — five buttons on my shirt undone, several gold chains dangling into my graying chest hair - hitting on women half his age.
Hmm, that’s an unattractive image.
Before I hit the Infiniti dealer (oh, G37, someday you’ll be mine) I’ll focus on Wondergirl, my chief henchman and assistant chef. Odds are I’m going to be a single father soon, so we’re going to be working the malls and playgrounds to meet chicks. In the meantime, I’ll remind her that I love her and her mother loves her and that, as always, my bullshit is not her problem.
I’m going to let Keely Smith play us out. We had a wedding song, why not a break up song?
I still love you Debra Harris. A part of me always will.
Jason Harris has learned that “heartbroken” is a word that has to be experienced to be understood.