Friday, September 3, 2010

Of Tiki Men and Tiaras

The real estate broker came to the apartment yesterday. This place doesn't feel a bit like Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters when Buzz Kill is here discussing business, or when I'm packing away my treasures. The painters will be here soon, and there's minor destruction involved, so I'm keeping The Treasures safe until they're packed even more safely for the movers and carefully unwrapped in my new home. That's when this place feels like my home of seventeen years. I've only been thinking about this place as HQ for a little while. Before that, it was the marital residence.

It will be somebody else's residence soon enough - but not before Christmas. I'm glad that we'll have Christmas here. And if the place doesn't sell before Thanksgiving, we're not even going to have it on the market again until February which means I'll be here until school's out. That's actually my preference, because of Velvet and because if I finish out the school year, my health insurance is paid through the end of August. Those are practical considerations, however. In my head, I'm already in Austin.

Packing away my treasures has triggered a few bouts of tears. No prolonged crying jags. Just intense moments when I've given into the sadness of the end of our marriage and of the family as we knew it. I imagine Buzz Kill had similar feelings back when he collected his belongings and vacated the premises. It would have been different for him, though, because he felt enraged and betrayed. So did I.

It's some shit when a marriage falls apart. Now the family is in the final stages of separating, but it doesn't feel like we're breaking apart. It feels like we're exactly where we need to be.

Velvet is now a permanent resident of Syracuse. He's nowhere near "on his own," but he's learning how to make his own home. I set up his environment for him, with his collection of tiki men, his artifacts from the family trip to India and Nepal when he was ten, his XBox 360 and all his games and DVDs. He left the Monty Python collection, but he took the whole dang set of original Star Treks. And of course, his Rancor Monster. It's on the shelves behind a Tiki Tumbler that Buzz Kill got for him in Vegas just above the shelf where his hookah is stored in a handy black carrying case with yellow straps.

And yes, that is a Shiner Beer box filled with Frisbees and fireworks next to the heater. I left the radiator out of the picture because I didn't want to upset my mother, and I'll remind Velvet that it's probably a good idea to move the sparklers before the heat comes on. But somehow, it just made me feel better to leave a Shiner beer box filled with fireworks next to the radiator. If I were still in therapy, my shrink would spend twenty minutes on that foolishness. Now I know it's just my way of keeping life exciting, and besides, the place is insured - and it's all Just Stuff anyway.

Granny the Ho's Ashes and my tiara aren't Just Stuff, though, and neither are the Tiki Men and the Rancor Monster. Or favorite Christmas ornaments and books from childhood. If all your treasures disappeared in an instant, in a hurricane like Katrina, for example, the experiences attached to that Stuff would endure. Stuff is merely a physical reminder, but it's comforting and grounds you in a place.

In The Quiet Man, Maureen O'Hara was insistent about getting her dowry because she wanted her things around her when she made a home as a married woman. John Wayne didn't get it, since he was rich in The Quiet Man and could buy her all new things. And if there has been a disaster, like Katrina, and you've lost all your things - you'll live and build a new home (assuming you weren't poor and left to drown).

I'll make a new home, too. When I left Texas to make a life in New York, I held on to some relationships. Sometimes the hold was tight, sometimes loose, but the grasp was always strong and secure. Over twenty years later, those relationships are as solid as ever. They have evolved, of course, but my friends and I have maintained the connections despite geography and life changes. I'll be able to do that with some friends in New York, too, but separating is still hard.

I never meant to separate from Buzz Kill, that's a fact. I've saved a few things from our wedding in a wicker sewing basket for years and years - a photograph of him in his tux looking at the ring before the ceremony, the white kid ballet flats I only wore as a bride, and a few other trinkets. As I put that basket into the storage box, I remembered the time when I believed Buzz Kill and I would be together forever and ever. I've got no regrets, except that once we'd been together a few years, I didn't have enough faith in the marriage to have another child. That was a good choice because I'd be tied to New York and Buzz Kill even longer if we had another child - and the time for all that has passed.

Buzz Kill and I are in a good place, though. A couple of days ago, on the day the staff reported back to school, the office asked us to fill out a form with current contact information. I put Buzz Kill down as my emergency contact. For a while, just after the divorce, my two best girl friends were my emergency numbers because, truly, Buzz Kill would have been glad to shove me in front of a bus. Neither one of those friends live in New York City full time anymore, so I had to come up with a new emergency contact. Now that the feelings of rage and betrayal have passed and we've both come to an understanding of sorts, he's the best choice. He and I are not significant players in each others daily lives, but we can rely on each other when times are tough.

I suppose my mother will be my emergency number when I get to Texas, but I have to confess that I'm feeling a strong pull towards my lawyer, the Man from San Antone. The connection between us remains strong. It's not Romantic, exactly, but it's something.


Vancouver Voyeur said...

Handling divorces for people for a living, I get to see the full spectrum of how people handle divorces, what causes them, etc. It's an interesting study of human nature and I've not yet seen any couple duplicate how any other has handled it. They've all been very unique. Who knew there were that many ways to respond, behave, grieve in a similar situation. I'm glad you and Buzz Kill are in a better place. I'm still not there with the Spin Doctor. As long as I don't have to look at him or hear his voice, I can be in a good place and gracious toward him. The minute I hear the cocky, arrogance, or see "the look" of superiority, I just want to smack the crap out of him for all he's put me through. I guess it's going to take quite a long time for me.

mac said...

We were the best of friends before we married.We would hang out, tell stories and just enjoyed each others company.
Through 16 years of marriage, that changed. We grew apart. Sometimes I hated her so much.

When it all crashed, I felt so bad for all those feelings I had for her. How could I have been that big an asshole to my best friend? How could she have been that much of a bitch towards me?

Two years later, we are friends again. We're not as close as we were, nor will we ever be. But, I accept our friendship, whatever it is.

The hardest thing to admit in all of it was, I was never really *in Love* with her so much as I loved her.

Gail said...


You are so normal-healthy!! :-) I love your process and honesty as you begin to transition from NYC and all that your home has been for 17 years. I was touched that Buzz Kill is your emergency contact. Speaks volumes.

Love you girl
peace and hope.....

PENolan said...

V.V., it takes as long as it takes. When my mother heard how easy going Buzz Kill has been lately, she concluded that he's finally medicated. Could be . . .

mac, I hear you. I still say, though, that Love lasts when "in love" fades away, but that's a very big discussion. And, too, there's True Love - as defined by The Princess Bride and The Philadelphia Story. I fully believe in True Love; but you aren't limited to just one ;)

Gail - I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Regardless memories are all treasures, some good some bad. However, all part of what makes you, and your life go round. Things are nothing more, but we are human, and to be able to touch, some small treasure just makes memories come flooding back.
I have been married for 30 years, and 10 months now to the same man. Some days cannot stand him any more than he can stand me. We buried a child together, we married twice, and (just to make sure after 25 years) thought a renewable contract was a good idea. We are not rich; barely keep our heads above water. Moreover, like most friend ships, we agree on some things and not on others. Am not sure if we are just lucky, or not to smart. It is better not to go thru life hating someone, who was or is a partner. It is like hating one's self. Well enough of my rambling, VV & another sister D, are coming to visit this weekend yea..!!! Still have to go to farmers market in Vestal on Sat. but only until 1. Therefore, Going to leave this nuthouse, go get staples, at grocery store. And hopefully run vac at home before everyone get here.. Otherwise, will hand everyone a tool and let them have at my dusty house, now that sounds like a plan. Have a Great Holiday Weekend.
Pat from NY

Susan Tiner said...

Hi Penolan, I found you today via @lisagolden's tweet and proceeded to blow the entire morning reading your blog archive.

This post in particular hit home:

In my case it's nice to finally be on the other side of a bad pattern of repairing the self via husbands-as-parental-power-brokers. Wish I could have learned sooner but oh well.

I love the story of Buzz Kill and the divorce. I'm not free to write about my marriages -- agreed with the grown up children not to do so -- so this is nice for me to get to read about marriage from another perspective.

Anonymous said...

Well I for one am sooo Happy for Me! Cause then I get to see you! It's like my Partner in Crime is returning...heheheh...Oh the memories still linger...and new ones will be made.
I am dissapointed about the Star Trek mugs but I'll give ya mine when you get your place here. I still have the ones YOU gave me. One of my few treasures. Thanks for posting what it feels like to make such an enormous change.

Beach Bum said...

...except I still have the Monty Python collection.

Some decent beer, chips, salsa, and Monty Python and that's a fun Saturday night at my house.

Adult relationship suck, everybody wants one but they never really know what to do with them when they get one.

PENolan said...

Hi Susan and Welcome!
To give Buzz Kill credit, he's always been able to take responsibility for his own actions. That Narcissist still acts as if he is an innocent victim to everybody else's irrational demands and clinging neediness. Sheesh.
Hope we get to blow a morning together again.

Pat - we've got to have coffee before I move. Email me at

Julia, not to worry. Velvet didn't get the Star Trek mugs. They are all safe in the cupboard and remain one of my favorite wedding presents. He took the DVD set of all the episodes from the original Star Trek series. They were his, and I'm sure he'll take care of them - but still, I wanted them for myself.

Beach - Weed and Monty Python is even better if you ask me.

Jennifer said...

Boy, it's all so similar to what I experienced a couple of years ago - kids on their own, free from a house and an ex. I get the tears and the leaving behind of the crap that almost seems inevitiable on separation/divorce. My ex's name would never appear on an emergency contact list of mine, but that's okay. I'm glad you got to that point.

I said "goodbye" to my girls on the front lawn after the moving vans were packed and my best friend had just left after giving me a roadmap book of Ontario with her house marked in it and then I cried hard for the four and a half hours drive from one city to the next. It wasn't really grief at what I was leaving behind - it was relief, joy, fear and every single worry and struggle attached to that place regurgitating itself. And suddenly I was alone with my future. A good alone - but it was a shock.

Anwyay, I'm glad you're sharing it all. I didn't blog about my experience much - maybe taking this ride with you can put my own experiences into perspective.

verymissmary said...

Velvet's room looks really nice. I'm glad he has a Shiner box. It's vital.

Lou said...

Enjoy your last Thanksgiving and Christmas there in New York HQ. I can only imagine the nostalgia after 17 years somewhere.

PENolan said...

Lou - it's 17 years in this apartment, but we've lived in this building since before we were married in 1989 - so basically my whole New York life, which is my whole married life.

How are things in NZ? Glad to see you.

VMM - I think he needs a Long Trail box too. That means a trip up to Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp in VT before I hit the road.

Jen - sounds like you and I are going to be taking a road trip of sorts. No maps!

Lisa said...

Although things have turned out differently, I will never forget those feelings of change and separation I experienced when MathMan and I separated.

I just want you to know it's posts like this - full of honesty and good writing - that makes me want to share you with my friends everywhere.

Blueberry said...

Relationships are just difficult, no matter what. We almost got a divorce 10 years ago, and I offered the options of leaving that town and moving to Austin together for a fresh(er) start, or breaking up. Just last week I realized we could be one argument away from relationship fail. If it's not one damn thing it's another. Change comes no matter what you do.

PENolan said...

Lisa, I am humbled and grateful. You send great people.
Blueberry, you're right - it's always something. It's good that you two are figuring it out somehow.
I swear, though, every time I hear, "one thing or another," I think: If it's not one thing, it's your Mother.

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