The Cost of Success
Without trying to date myself, the last time I was dating was in the ‘90s and very early 2000s. I hated dating; there always seemed to be so much pressure throughout the entire ritual. I would mostly try to make the process as casual as possible, protecting myself from failure. Although I like being with someone and going out, I was no good at dating.
One of my biggest dating fears about dating was being with someone who had an ex they were supporting. I realize this sounds selfish (I was in my 20s, after all), but the thought of my partner having to pay a monthly stipend to someone they weren’t even with was truly the worst-case scenario I could imagine.
In a weird twist, I have found myself in that same position I feared most, but — looking back — I should have been more concerned with the character of a man who would take money from his ex, than one who would give it.
“Unfortunately, you married someone who doesn’t make very much money,” were the words the judge said to me as she exited her chambers, signed paperwork in-hand, ready to be filed. At that time I had so many questions about that statement, but feeling under pressure, asked none.
Today, the question I ask myself while I date the check and seal the security envelope addressed to my ex-husband is, is this monthly payout a mark of my failure or success?
My Third Law of Emotion
I have a date … a date with someone who I have never met, but will determine my future. Not a soothsayer, psychic, or fortune teller, but one whose ruling I have to abide by and accept the consequences.
Now I’m not above seeing a psychic, and the last time I did I was in my twenties after my boyfriend died in a tragic car accident and my dad died after battling an aggressive form of cancer. I was lost during that time, everything was out of control, so a friend suggested I see a tarot card reader. I think she thought this would give me an opportunity to see the good the future could hold.
With some hesitation I made the appointment and did go see her. Someone who knew nothing about me was going to tell me everything I needed to know to make my present more bearable. As a skeptic and natural contrarian, I didn’t reveal all that I was going through, wanting her to prove her abilities, for her to look into her crystal ball and know all about me. Throughout the reading (minus the crystal ball), I could not control my emotions. Every time she mentioned my relationships with men, my dad, dating, etc., I would begin to cry. She was obviously feeding off my uncontrolled responses and went on to make her final evaluation, more about my past than my future. My tears and cards revealed to her that in my past lives I was always the concubine, the one that men looked past, the woman who never reached the status of wife. What my past “mes” had always wanted life after life was to be a wife. None of that made sense to me, I was never the little girl dreaming of the day I would wear a white dress and walk down the aisle. When I finished my first year in college, my roommate’s mom was sincerely concerned that I hadn’t found a future husband like her daughter had.
In the dark room of the psychic’s house, all I could think was that my dad was dead, my boyfriend was dead, and why couldn’t she see that, instead of interpreting my sadness revolving around men as a yearning to be married. When the hour was done, I ran into the sunlight, out of the reading, eyes wet and swollen, forgetting to pay for her time. That seems like a lifetime ago.
In the present, I have held the status beyond concubine for the last 14 years, and this week the title all my past lives wanted, will be dissolved by someone who knows nothing about the present me or my most recent past, but will be tasked with making decisions dictating my future. I may cry at the loss or my inability to control what happens, but I hope I don’t repeat myself in running out of the building in tears without leaving a payment, that may lead to a warrant for my arrest, and one black robe in my future is more than I can take.
It has only been the first week of 7th grade and I have already learned new things. First, karate is taken seriously at my (not so) little constant companion’s middle school. Second, apparently these things (see picture above) are not self contained and need a strap of some sort, something that resembles underwear much more than a strap, to keep them in place. Now to be fair to my ignorance, I did wonder how this thing stayed on, but just capped the conversation with silent confusion.
I could just imagine my son’s karate kick high in the air, when an unidentified flying object would propel out the bottom of his pant leg with a stern aim for the gym coach, SMACK in the middle of his head or even worse the sweet girl he texts with! Of course that never happened, but I saw it in my mind.
How am I supposed to know how these “support things” work? My Spanx all come in one piece. But, it does make me wonder what else I’m going to learn in middle school.
7th grade get ready, here I come.