We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
My brother in law was singing an 18th century sea shanty in the galley, cooking over a hot stove as I unbuttoned my shirt, the window was open and in came the sound of the sea and the gulls, and the cool breeze which made the sweltering heat bearable. The small stateroom was a tight squeeze I’m afraid, there was about a half foot pathway between the chest of drawers and the bed, and only slightly more distance to the desk in the corner. The closet was apparently not water-tight, or so I was told, it was suggested I should air it out from time to time and to not store anything on its floor. The mice had been keeping me up at night, scurrying across the wooden floorboards. I had baited a few traps and placed them out for tonight. Probably would have been wise to have brought a cat on this voyage.
“Ooooh, shit, you’ve gotta hit this,” my sister said, walking in carrying a black bong and matching BIC lighter, all her smoking pieces had a plastic BIC in a matching color, very important.
She handed me the bong before I could protest. I took it and lit the smoldering herb, put my mouth to the piece and inhaled.
“Careful, it’s Durban Poison, it’s pretty harsh.”
It was too late, I’d taken a massive hit and was now coughing up a lung.
“Yeah, I got that,” I said between coughs.
“The cod is ready!” came the call to mess from the galley.
Dinner was served along with a white wine, Hebrew prayers, and a discussion of French novels. Afterwards, board games, or a TV show, or a pipe or cigar are typical evening activities as we retire.
I was three days into single life, last Friday I’d moved out of my wife’s home, and into my sister’s small bungalow near the beach. We’d signed the divorce agreement, and we were well on our way to our divorce being final. I felt I’d moved into a college dorm/18th century tall ship. Still, the rent was affordable, and my sister and brother in law seemed ecstatic that I’d joined them. Meals were family style every evening around the dinner table, and we seemed to share the household chores well thus far. I certainly had more cannabis and alcohol and erudite conversation offered to me than I was used to.
I’m having trouble making sense of everything now. I miss my wife and child. For the longest time, I didn’t actually believe we’d ever be parted in this way, perhaps logically, but I hadn’t grappled with the emotional reality. Sure, I had been living downstairs and my wife was sick of the sight of me, but I couldn’t imagine the isolation of living in another house across town, our comings and goings completely unknown to one another now. She’d gotten her own checking and savings account, I’d payed her child support and alimony for the month. Tonight is my first visitation, and it will be the first time I’d seen my son or wife in days. I’m beginning to grasp that this is my life now. In a way, the freedom is nice, being able to use my time and finances as I see fit and not being answerable to a spouse. In another way, I feel disconnected, lonely, like a bunch of big holes have been torn from my side: wife, son, and faith. And I’m at a loss of how to fill the hollowness.
Of course, Her is still here with me, and for that I’m glad, but the physical distance between us is now all the more palpable. Part of me feels like closing myself off from the world, the other part of me feels like diving into it with abandon. I know I just need time to adjust and get my sea legs. But, I’m so impatient, restless. This gaping wound in my side begs me to fill it, but I know that it is better that I let it heal on its own, that I fill it with myself, and not someone or something else. That isn’t to say that I don’t love Her, I do. I desire her above all else, but I know that I need to be okay within myself, and not make her responsible for my happiness. In a strange twist of irony, I feel I’ve lost my ability to love Her as well I could before my separation. My love for Her was pure then, when I was whole (despite the issues of marriage), but now it has become clouded with my emotional baggage and all these things I need to work out within myself. I know I’ll be whole in time, even if I’ll always miss my wife, and never be able to see my son enough despite our visitation agreement. I’ll be able to love fully again.