I'm posting for 60 days straight, leading up to my early December birthday, and I'm making the time to write on behalf of slain UCC Professor and aspiring novelist, Larry Levine.
Fall's arrival means Thanksgiving is around the corner. Which discourages me every year. Not because I'm one of those rabid, avid Black Friday shoppers who goes to battle over the latest Playstation at the local Walmart, but because TurkeyDay has come to represent loss. The loss of possibility, the loss of potential, the loss of promise.
This year would have been my 22nd Anniversary. Sometimes Thanksgiving falls smack on the 28th, our wedding date, so the entire day is shrouded by an angry, grey-black cloud of what could have been. In most years though, my Unaversary lurks around the corner of belt-loosening and gratitude-giving. The good cheer and warmth that the holiday generated often deflates as fast as a three-day old balloon.
Our 9 years of marriage wasn't all bad – we produced two of the most wonderful children west of the Mississippi - maybe even the entire nation. And the divorce wasn't nasty or bitter, as divorces go. Granted this is from my point of view as I was the one who scheduled the coffee talk to end the marriage. But we got through the process with minimal legal fuss; just two meetings with a mediating attorney. I remain thankful we didn't have one of those epic antagonistic, litigious battles as portrayed in Kramer vs Kramer or The War of the Roses.
My marriage is a tale told a thousand times before: we wedded too young (early 20s), and before establishing our own adult lives, we dove into the marital deep end. Even though there were signs of drowning early on, we treaded water like champions and produced a daughter. Which, you may know, changes EVERYTHING .
Parenting was such a welcome distraction from developing ourselves and addressing marital issues that we doubled down a mere 19 months later and had a son. No surprise that as years wore on and as our adorable infants graduated to challenging toddlers, the marriage didn't fair well. I buried myself in work, with the expressed goal of becoming a corporate VP by 30. I was on the international travel treadmill, managing sales partners in both Asia-Pacific (Australia up to Japan including China, Taiwan, and South Korea) and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa).
In hindsight, I think the marriage lasted as long as it did because I was on the road so often. Those trips were typically country-hopping two or three week affairs, so when I travelled for work, I TRAVELLED for work. And no, those trips didn't yield an extra-marital affair for either of us – the #5 reason couples divorce according to Daily Infographic – which is another diamond in the marital rough to be thankful for.
Ironically, perhaps fatefully, my parents were also married in late November, and they divorced after 15 years of marriage. Her parents separated at the end of a long Thanksgiving weekend, launching a tumultuous divorce after a 20+ year union. But there we were - so naively young and foolishly confident – that we ignored those familial warning signs and hit the marital deep end with an ungainly SPLASH.
As Black Friday has come to signify the beginning of the holiday season, Thanksgiving launches our always challenging split-household holiday circus. With all the familial divorces, there's no shortage of holiday visit options all over the country. We also have three family birthdays in December, including our daughters, so the logistics get complicated fast. Given that neither of us has remarried and that we've remained amicbale, my ex-wife and I end up spending some portion of the holidays together. Which is not what I expected when we divorced twelve years ago.
I'll mark this year's Unversary with reflection on the past and excitement for the future. Having shouldered the primary parenting duties since the divorce – I'd hopped off the international travel circuit and changed careers after 9/11 – I'm thrilled with the young adults our kids have become. Both are now off to college, officially marking another of life's milestones for them and for me. I'm living alone, practically for the first time ever. It's certainly been a transition. But I'm thankful to enter this next chapter of life swimming strong and steady.