The light this morning was really beautiful. It was almost a rose gold, and as I watched the backyard wake up and the pool brighten from midnight blue to pale turquoise, I thought to myself, not for the first time, that this house has truly been a refuge for me.
It’s a small, single-family house. Unremarkable from the front, it needs love in some areas, but when I look at it I see all the love we’ve put into it. The hot day in June we’d painted the white, white walls of the facade, finally covering up the hated cornflower blue trim left by previous owners. The walls of every one of the rooms that I’d painted with a palette of colors I chose. The bathroom vanity I picked out. The upgraded closet doors I’d had to pick a fight to get. The throw pillows, the comforters, the hardware on the doors and the towel racks, the sponge holder, the kitchen towels.
I did everything I could to make it a home for us.
When I wander around the house now, I can’t imagine leaving it even though the biggest part of it for me, what made it come alive and really made me want to make it our home,.. he doesn’t live here anymore. Not really. In the end, it’s not the stuff of a house that makes a home. It’s the love between the people who live there.
There was a movie in the 90’s about a group of twenty-somethings in Seattle. The character played by Bridget Fonda is in a relationship in which she’s not appreciated, so she simply ends it – something about finding dignity in being single. Even though that’s not the situation here at all – I was appreciated and I was loved – I get that, you know. Now more than ever I see that there’s something beautiful in just letting go.
I met a girlfriend up at a local beach bar the other night. We sat at the bar, had a glass or two of wine and split some appetizers. After a while I noticed a man standing with his friends not too far away who kept looking over at us. When I mentioned this to my friend, she looked over at him, giving him the go ahead to come on over.
“So are you ladies single?” Seriously what he led with.
My friend said, “I’m married but she’s recently single.”
And I threw up a little in my mouth. Could’ve been the calamari.
I never really thought it was all that important to have a formal commitment between us. We were committed without the paper. He was home every night, he protected me, he supported me, and he was my best friend. We were together. Now that it’s over, though, all that security is gone. I have to leave the home that has been a refuge to me. I have to find a place to live – with no recent rental history. Get utilities turned on – with no payment history for the past several years. We have to unlink our bank accounts, cancel credit cards, and all without a piece of paper showing that the relationship is legally severed or that it ever really existed.
Like our time together, all the time after comes without fanfare or recognition. It simply is, and there’s just something decidedly undignified about that.