On this day, seven years ago, my divorce became final. After the judge proclaimed it officially done, I sat in my car in the courthouse parking lot and wailed as if my soul were being ripped from my body. A 25 year marriage legally erased. On the other side of a vast metropolitan area, on that very same March day, a stunned man came home to discover that his wife of 25 years left him for the man she had been dating online –- a man she had not even met.
Two years later, the combination of a benevolent universe and a fixed pickers brought me and that no-longer-sad-or stunned man together. This man, this gentle, hippy, vulgar, mystic, sage welder was the opposite of my ex-husband. Not a speck of arrogance or pretense that described my academic ex could be found in this man. With an unassuming confidence and deep decency this man showed me that trust and devotion are the cornerstones of love. Toss in some extraordinary sex and bingo, a keeper.
So tomorrow we gather at an organic farm for our welding. Yes, a welding. We will dine on Japanese-Appallachian food and our favorite local folk duo will play. We will exchange vows (as my welder says, with someone who means them) and rings — that my welder made. People will be dressed in hippy finery and Ren Faire splendor. Our closest circle will be there. And later into the evening everyone will bring out their instruments and we will all sing and play.
Seven years ago, this would have seemed the wildest of dreams for countless reasons. Yet here we are.
As I have sat in my car, listening white knuckled to NPR this week, I keep reminding myself that it’s life’s uncertainty that is the constant. But then I am comforted and renewed to remember the strong hippy welder that gently told me that we will survive and we would do it together. This week has been a test for sure (and sadly, I fear, we’ve not seen the worst) but I am deeply grateful to have found a steadfast partner with whom to face this uncertainty.
And tomorrow night, in the mountains of north Georgia, on the banks of a river, I will raise a glass of Prosecco to you.
Thank you for everything.
Chump Life Gained
Dear Chump Life Gained,
As I publish this letter I received last weekend, you’re now husband and wife. Congratulations! I decided to run your story most fittingly on a Tuesday. (CN maxim — “When does the pain stop? Tuesday. I don’t know what Tuesday, but Tuesday is out there.”)
Chumps have an intimate knowledge of calamity — that life can suddenly fall apart. What we often fail to remember is that life can also knit itself back together in surprising ways as well. You can be broadsided by good fortune as well as bad.
Thank you for this reminder, at this time of all times. It took a lot of guts to get over the death of a 25-year marriage and a lot of guts to make yourself vulnerable to new love. I’m glad I could play a small part in your healing.
Seven years ago, this would have seemed the wildest of dreams…
Your dispatch from the other side will give a lot of people hope that “wild dreams” like the love and respect of a good person are possible.
Walking into the scary unknown is the hardest thing, and at CN, we’re cheerleading people to take those leave-a-cheater steps. It helps the message so much to have chumps report back — I left, I did it, my life wasn’t worse, it was immeasurably BETTER.
Of course, not every new life winds up on a Georgia mountain at a wedding party. But it might. Who knows where courage will take us?
Chump Life Gained, I love that you married a welder. (As readers here know, I took up welding after divorcing the cheater. It’s kind of like a glue gun that can kill you.) I love the idea of welding itself — taking disparate materials and forging them into one. Breaking them down, literally melting them, and uniting them.
May your seam hold forever.