Which Side Are You On?
On April 14th, a Wednesday, at almost exactly 11 o’clock in the morning my wife – beginning the talk she said she wanted to have, said to me, “This is going to be hard, especially for you, but I want a divorce.” Yeah, it was hard, harder than almost anything, and it still is.
That afternoon I went for a long walk in the rare spring sun of Portland, a little under two and a half miles, and maybe halfway through called my best friend in Oakland, CA and I talked and cried and he listened and gave gentle advice and by the end of the walk, close back to “my house”, I had committed to stay on my side of the street going forward – no matter what – and be on the best high alert I could muster every five minutes for my Higher Power’s will for me. Now what? This was my new thing – “What is the will for me – the next five minutes – my side of the street?”
I am glad and also proud to say, in all honesty, I have done just that, forgetting the every five minute thing for periods of a few hours here and there, but remaining on my side of the street. I have not been mean, I have not said mean things, I’ve tried my best not to be any kind of an asshole these final few weeks of living together. I’ve removed myself almost entirely to down into the basement. I haven’t passed a lot of judgments and any that have come to me I’ve kept to myself. My goal has to take care of my son Spenser and then take care of me and how that has happened has been through physical, emotional, and spiritual efforts nearly (but not ) beyond my capacity as a 72-year old long-time screw-up with a pretty gentle, hopeful heart for the world. Along the way, as friends and even new acquaintances have learned of my “situation” (the wife called it) I have been treated with amazing kindness and generosity and love.
Also, along the way, and increasingly with the passage of time, I have been advised in strong and then stronger terms to take better care of myself in a legal sense, to invoke my right for fairness after 10 and a half years of marriage, 11 years living together. And almost entirely I have accepted these caring bits of advice from nearly a dozen people now, and then let them go. It didn’t fit with my vow, back around the 15th of April, to leave with grace and dignity. People have literally howled at me that taking care of myself and remaining with grace and dignity are not in battle with each other. They can co-exist. Still I’ve felt good about my way of leaving – my son more and more secure – and been thrilled with a mostly smiling Universe.
Yesterday, a Wednesday late in April, and triggered by what felt like a petty meanness directed at me the night before, I walked out into the middle of the street. I made some phone calls and listened more carefully to the stick-up-for- yourself-better advice, and I could feel the quality of my, well, existence, change. I felt different. When I sat for my meditation this morning, in which I’m generally pretty quiet and often count from one to 10 over and over, slowly, my breathes becoming deeper and longer, this morning I could never get past “One”, try as I would over and over I couldn’t get past the first “one”. My head was swirling with likely or potential or possible courtroom language and recriminations and anger and all that shit I vowed the first day to leave alone. Honestly, call me naive, I’d never even thought about it until someone said it loudly to me. Anyway, I went to the recliner and drank coffees and opened my mind to the will for me, five minutes would be good, and, yeah – back over there where I belong.
By the time I got down here to write my Morning Pages, some five and a half hours ago now, I’d moved back over to my side of the street. I like it there. I have felt soothed and cared for there. I haven’t felt afraid and don’t feel afraid. I’ve actually discovered wonder and opening doors and windows – even some magic. My friendship with my best friend has been electrified, in a wonderful way, and people have come from my past to become part of my new present. To be honest, right here and now, I do have one remaining plan for a little “theater”, what we long-time Yippies always called “Guerilla Theater”, in the other take-care-of-myself way. I’ll play with it this afternoon and I suppose it may roll into tomorrow’s morning, but I’ll keep a light heart, and all the while part of me will be thinking about what needs to get packed next and how best to keep looking for a new address and how lucky I am to have the friends I do.
At noon, on this Thursday – this is the side of the street I’m on. And I’m sticking to it.