September: The Ugly


So that earthquake I'd been expecting? Yeah.

* * * * * *

ElG came to the east coast to meet me. He was with me over Labor Day weekend, and it was weird and cool and nice and good. We'd spent so many hours on the phone that we knew we would get along and, well, we did. It was nice to have company, to not be alone in the house for a few days.

We spent a lot of time talking and I showed him around the land where I'd grown up (including a day trip to NYC). I think it was readily apparent to him why I'd loved my surroundings enough to stay as long as I had. And why I was ready to leave.

I knew it was too soon to have a boyfriend, but that wasn't how I thought of it, of him. I just thought that ElG was turning out to be a great friend. With some great benefits.

During his stay, we both slept in the guest room.

* * * * * *

Once ElG returned to San Francisco, knowing that he was waiting for me* on "the other side" was encouraging.

But please. I am not inhumanly pliant.

I still had to face the every day reality of living alone in a home that my soon-to-be ex-husband and I built together. I was living there, and it was going to go away. And I wanted it to except I didn’t. I wanted to hang on to it for dear life except I wanted it sold so I could move on.

And still, if we couldn't sell the house...what would we do? The realtor said we were in trouble if we hadn't sold by the end of summer. Why couldn’t we sell? What was wrong with us? What was wrong with the house we thought was so cool? What was so wrong with me?

* * * * * *

The nights alone in the house I was losing – had lost – were the loneliest I’ve ever known.

I remember the night routines. I would go to the Chinese restaurant and get the same cold noodle dish every time. The menu included the phrase, “We can alter the spicy according to taste” and that amused me.

I had borrowed the first season of Sex and the City from Hakuna and I’d never seen it and figured then was as good a time as any to get into it. I watched the episodes back to back to back. Every night.

Most nights I would drink wine, unless I was feeling especially sad or especially enthusiastic about the new, uber-urban ideal of my would-be, could-be life. In which case I’d make myself martinis. They were never made well.

I still can’t make a martini to save my life.

One time, I remember collapsing onto the floor in the bathroom, sobbing uncontrollably. Convinced that it would never get better and that everything had been a mistake. The pain was too much to bear. I thought about never getting up again. And when I realized I could have just stayed there for days and no one would have known, getting up from the floor seemed impossible.

Another time, I remember getting so angry, so fed up with everything that I stormed out of my family room and onto the outside deck. It was late at night. My deck was visible to all our neighboring houses, but what did I care? I stormed out there with my martini and I screamed and I threw the martini glass onto the deck and smashed the whole fucking thing into a thousand pieces. It felt good. I left it there.

I wondered if Connie had seen me. I hoped she had. I figured she’d be jealous. We can’t all be so free to express our rage.

Later – I don’t know how much later – David would be visiting the house when I was away, probably in New Hampshire, and he would ask me about the broken glass on the deck. I would tell him I got mad and smashed a glass there and forgot to clean it up. No sense lying about it. He got mad, of course. Why did I have to be such a lunatic?

* * * * * *

So finally the earthquake hit.

Everyone knows what they were doing on 9/11. (Oh, yes, it was THAT September.)

But what about September 9 and 10? Anyone?

Well, I can tell you what I was doing then. I got a call from David that our house had been sold. And that our closing date would be September 27.

Meaning that after almost four months of waiting on a fault line, I suddenly had two weeks to pack up my entire life and figure out what to do with it.

Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I did was rent a dumpster.

*Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me, my lover stands on golden sands, and watches the ships that go sailing...


  1. K, you are such a strong and amazing woman.
    And though it may seem cliche, you are inspiring.

  2. I agree with Anika... I'm amazed by you.

  3. oh. my. god. that is exactly the time i split with my husband!! holy crap. he spent sep. 9th and 10th at his mom's house, after us having the worst conversation ever (me saying i wasn't moving with him to go to school and him flipping out) and then he called on the 11th and told me to turn on the tv. that is surreal.

  4. On September 8th I left New York City. You know how everyone called their loved ones on 9/11? I called my now ex....he called his mistress. That's when I knew I had made the right decision to leave after 12 years together. Three weeks later I moved to Italy for a year. Best thing I ever did. Two years after that I googled a college "hookup" who I had lost touch with in the early 90's. No expectations, just looking to remember some fun times. Six months ago I moved to DC to live with him. We got a dog. That very, very black tearful time that I didn't think I would survive through now seems so long ago. I'm a very blessed woman.

  5. I am so engrossed in this story. I get the feeling that the car is starting the tick-tick-tick-tick journey up the next hill?

    (blury roller coaster metaphor, anyone?)

  6. Your writing is captivating, but would not be if the story were not so as well.


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