Divorce is not fun. I realize I’m stating the obvious here. Even if you know you will be a million times happier or safer afterwards, the “getting there” sucks. Telling your family. Telling your friends. Wondering which side the mutual friends are going to take. Dividing the assets. It is all just a giant list of sucky adulting.
John and I had about as amicable a divorce as you can. We agreed to terms and had a paralegal take care of the paperwork. He got the house and I got my portion of the equity from the time we purchased it. We split up household stuff according to who needed it most. He kept most of the furniture. I got all the books, with the exception of the ones that were his. There was no discussion of alimony. Considering I was the one leaving, and my reason for leaving, I didn’t think asking for anything else would be fair to him.
My separation from Lola is another story. The dissolution of the domestic partnership was easy enough. Print out the forms, sign them, and take them to the nearest UPS store to have them notarized. We had been together for four years, which was under the threshold for needing to do an official divorce. Thank God for that. There were no assets to speak of and we had always maintained separate bank and credit accounts. But then we had to negotiate all the stuff we had.
I was the sole income earner the entire time Lola and I were together. She had attempted to hold some student teaching positions, but usually ended up quitting when it got too inconvenient or hard. In those years, I’d had three different jobs, changes made in an attempt to earn more to support a four-person household. Lola received some money each month for child support, but that went straight to tuition for a private school. Her financial aid for her own schooling usually got blown on clothes she didn’t need, books she wouldn’t read but that she felt made her look smart, and frivolous gifts for the kids that were unnecessary given our financial situation. I went through everything in my savings and retirement just to keep us afloat and to make sure the things we actually needed – utilities, food, rent – were paid for. I didn’t make enough in any of my jobs to support that many people.
I had borrowed money from my parents to pay off staggering debt; debt acquired buying groceries, paying for car repairs, tuition, clothes, school supplies, and pretty much everything else under the sun. The few months Lola actually had a brief income, she would go grocery shopping, buying more than we needed or could ever eat before it went bad, and then would bitch for the next week or two about how much she spent and how she didn’t have a lot of money and why didn’t I help her out more.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
Any time I attempted to explain our financial situation, she shut me down. She did not want to know. One day, she actually had the balls to accuse me of using my money to buy drugs. When the hell did I have time to buy or even use drugs?! I finally got fed up enough to explain in great detail exactly how much our bills were each month and how much I brought home. That shut her up for about a week.
She eventually got a job grading standardized exams from home. It was decent pay and didn’t require her to leave the house. She could work late-night shifts, which were ideal for her and her insomnia. Thank God for that job. It made it possible for her to support herself and the kids and move the hell out of my house and life. She started looking for a place to live and I started counting down the days to being free again.
When she finally found a place, we had to start the dividing process. She cared less about kitchen items than she did the books. We both brought extensive libraries into the relationship. There were many books that we didn’t need to debate or argue over. Then we got to the books acquired during our relationship. Does the person who wanted it get it or the person who paid for it? Or does the person with the most interest in the book at that point in time keep it? I bought 90% of everything in those four years, so I could’ve argued the point if I had felt bitchy. Some books were gifts…no real arguments on those.
We came to an agreement on who got what and books were separated by bookshelf for her to pack. Where I made the mistake was assuming she wouldn’t grab other books when she packed while I was at work. I would come home every day and inspect the bookcases. I noticed a few books had been moved from my pile to her pile, so I moved them back. Of course, that started an argument because she thought she had a better memory than me. She also felt entitled to the books she bought FOR me when I was working on my thesis, or books that she suddenly had an interest in that she never gave a shit about before. I reached the point where it just wasn’t worth the bullshit to keep some of those books.
One night I was getting ready for bed and noticed a hole in my Arthurian and medieval literature bookcase. I knew exactly which book was gone and couldn’t believe she thought she could take anything from there. She had never shown any interest in those books and had relegated them to the bedroom because they didn’t go with the image she was trying to create of herself with all the classic literature in the living room. I asked her about the book and she claimed to not know anything about it. So, I did what any self-respecting person would do. When she wasn’t home, I started carefully going through the packed and sealed boxes of books she had put in the garage.
After looking through every box, every bookshelf not packed yet, under furniture, in closets, anywhere she might’ve put this book, I could not find it. Months later when I went by her apartment to drop some stuff off, I couldn’t find it on any of the bookcases she had up. I KNOW she had the book but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it anywhere.
After the move, the house was in a bit of disarray because she still had a shit ton of crap in the garage she had not moved. Two bedrooms worth of crap to be exact. We had packed the truck full the day she moved, but it wasn’t enough to get everything out. She had promised to make small trips to get things, which she did for a few weeks, but then she got tired of moving stuff, so just left the shit here, along with all her other empty promises. I ended up moving everything to the garage so I could create a new home for myself. It took another 10 months before I rented a storage unit (and payed for it for 12 months) and moved her shit there. I gave her the key and the code for accessing the unit and she STILL didn’t move a damn thing. I finally told her I couldn’t afford it anymore and she had to either take over the lease or move everything out.
During this “transition” phase, I hadn’t had time to arrange my bookcases by genre. A girl can only do so much with limited time and energy. As a result, my library was in a chaotic state. I needed something funny to read one night, so I went hunting. I felt like David Sedaris was the perfect pick because I love his snarkiness and honesty. Reading him was almost like reading my twin brain. I looked everywhere for the book and could not find it. I looked a second time because sometimes I do miss things. After the third try, I yelled to the dog, “Bitch stole my Sedaris!!!!” Kami, being the loyal dog she was, came over and licked my hand, as if it to say “It’s ok, mom. We’re better off buying new books than having her here still.”
That incident spurred me to get my books organized, partly so I could do an inventory of what else she might’ve made off with. The list was longer than I thought it would be. A lot of the missing books were by authors she had never heard of or shown interest in until she met me. She deemed anything categorized as fantasy or science fiction to be beneath her intellectual level. Of course, if she had ever read any of the really good books in those genres, she would’ve understood they are just as profound as classic literature. I could’ve called her up or sent a message confronting her on this, but it just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I had come to realize there was a certain price to my freedom from her, and the books were part of it. Was she wrong to take them? Absolutely. But that’s on her karma, not mine.
In the years after our split, I slowly replaced the missing books. I had a great job and expendable income now. My debt was cleared and I was standing firmly on my own two feet. One day, I was on the phone with my sister and we were talking about music. As is often the case, I tend to stand in front of my cd collection during those conversations. I had moved most of my music to my laptop, so I rarely needed the physical cds anymore. We were trying to figure out which album a certain song had been on when I noticed a gap in my collection that hadn’t been there before.
“BITCH STOLE MY KD LANG!!!!”