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2:12 p.m. - 2011-03-31
The Ex and The Real Husband

"I haven't met that many happy people in my life, how do they act?"- 'The Big Chill'

I've had to speak with the ex more in the last few days than I had for the previous six months. His great-aunt died and he went out to Reno for the memorial service this weekend. Plus there's some stuff about the house, a few "honey-do" chores I wanted him to take care of, exchanging info about the kids and their doings, crap like that. He got back from Nevada Tuesday night and yesterday I asked him how all the folks were. Mike gave me a rundown on what everybody is doing and how they looked these days and all the non-salacious gossip. He said he'd passed along my greetings and condolences. Ex-family is an odd thing. These people were my family for more than 25 years. And, of course, are still my kids' relatives. Divorce doesn't change that. It was familiar and strangely comforting to talk with Mike like that. My past isn't as erased as I thought.

I also realized it might be a little lonely sometimes for Mike too. His new wife has zero interest in joining his tribe, she has one of her own. So if he tells his new wife that the post-cancer maintenance drugs have bloated his mom up to be nearly unrecognizable and that a horrible fungus got into and has nearly destroyed his aunt's famous rose bushes, it's no biggie to her. Whereas I remember that sassy bikini-wearing MIL of yesteryear and have seen and marveled over those roses myself. It hurts that they're both so changed and marred. I understand what a wrench it is that his grandma's gone vague and shaky. And that an ex-BIL has little radioactive seeds planted in his prostate now. A last ditch effort to keep him from going the way of Frank Zappa. Mike was a little teary-eyed when he saw my hurt and sadness over this bad news. Grateful that it matters to someone who knows.

Yet for all of that auld lang syne, part of me was stepped back and marveling at how goddamn grateful I am that I'm no longer all tangled up in the ex's messy way of going on. Because outside of the extended family stuff the ex is as random and half-assed as ever. Mike will not, perhaps cannot get his life in order. He's still floundering around never finishing anything and forever trying to catch up because of the mess his wandering attention causes. He is the Kristi Yamaguchi of skating on thin ice. And I can't be anything but relieved and grateful for finally being on solid ground.

And for this I must thank Mick. My darling husband whose life watchwords are progress and completion. My dear mannie lives according to Poor Richard's dictate that 'a stitch in time saves nine'. I adore him for this. He gets the weird noise in the exhaust checked out and fixed before the muffler rots off. He shovels the driveway before he tries to drive on it and leaves icy ruts that will not melt. He doesn't wait until our licenses and registrations are suspended before paying the car insurance. If Mick wants to get rid of that weedy bamboo stuff under the cypress trees he doesn't just yank out half of it and then wander off leaving his gardening gloves on the ground to rot in the rain and the piles to become a new home for yard rats; he pulls ALL of it out, wheelbarrows the ripped out stuff up to the mulch pile and puts his gloves and the wheelbarrow away before he comes inside.

When you add in my innate financial prudence and savvy (which had always been scorned and ignored and deliberately flouted by the ex) Mick and I have put together a damn fine life. Bills are paid, budgets adhered to, treats and the bigger necessities saved up for and bought prudently. Our house is clean. Our cars run. Most importantly, we do NOT hoard grievances. If something is off between us we talk about it now. We talk and figure (and sometimes fight) until the thing is resolved. Nothing festers. Nothing goes ignored.

Hence, Life is sweet with us. Not perfect, mind you. But sweet. Calm, orderly, tidy. If the power goes off I never wonder if the bill's been paid, I can freely call the utility company and report an outage. If I need to speak with Mick about something I don't have to dance around and work myself half to death beforehand so as to be worthy of his attention and have my bribes and bona fides in place first before bringing up something that he might have fallen down on. I never have to beg or humiliate myself to get something finished. Nor do I have to suck it up and manage around big holes in everything and pretend this is normal.

I told Mick last night that speaking with my ex is sort of like going to my high school reunion. Catching up with him is interesting and nostalgic. Fun in an objective retrospect "Gee, this used to be me" kind of way. But it has very little to do with my life today. How things were and who I was back in the day isn't relevant to how things are and who I am now except that it's a part of my past and helped me define what it truly is that I wanted.

I want this. This life. This peace. This happiness. This man.

All finished with half-assed, makeshift, sideways shit and a man who only wants me to fix it and bail him out and say, "Thank you" for the privilege. ~LA

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