Soul mates and white knights don’t resonate with me. I’m not a woman who enjoys movies like “The Notebook” or “You’ve Got Mail.” However, I believe that human beings should be by love possessed.
It took a quiet divorce and some October “spring cleaning” for me to figure this out. After leaving my husband, I emptied the storage box that housed our mementos. In the dust of an attic, I filled trash bags with the greeting cards and photographs of our married life. I felt a little nervous, but it didn’t feel wrong. At age thirty, when you break up, you clean out. You move on, and you make space for what comes next.
While tossing these last tangible pieces of my marriage, I found an eleven year old envelope: one that I had scribbled a poem on while sitting in my ‘82 Chevy Blazer. I had gotten lost in the Forest Hill Cemetery looking for a grave site and couldn’t think of anything else to do. So I wrote; and yes, the poem sucked. But inside the envelope that the poem was written on were three reminders of my belief that people should be by love possessed.
The first was a eulogy I had written in a bout of gothic romanticism. You know, what would I do or say if my lover died? I read it sitting on the attic stairs, laughed, and tossed it near the trash bag.
Looking again through the envelope, I pulled out a Vonnegut short story, “Long Walk to Forever.” The eulogy boy had given it to me. It’s a short fiction piece about a soldier who goes A.W.O.L to see a girl he loves before she marries someone else. The soldier gets the girl. I smiled at Vonnegut’s romanticism and again tossed the contents of this envelope toward the trash.
The last thing I pulled out of the envelope was a poem by this same eulogy/short story boy. On a July afternoon, he drove an hour to my Knoxville, Tennessee condo to climb my second story balcony. While I napped on the pink couch, he snuck in and put this poem that he had written on the armrest beside me. I had dumped him, and he was forgiving me. Eleven years later, sweating in an attic, I read his words, “There is no Check Point Charlie, no Maginot line.”
Now, I hadn’t yet cried over my divorce and wouldn’t much, but this sentiment from a boy I loved in college made me lose my wit. Somewhere in my twenties, I had forgotten that someone had loved me enough to love me ferociously, to write it down, to make it real. At that moment, I understood that the choice to leave my husband was the right one.
I am a pragmatic and a realist, although some say cynic and pessimist. However, I will not again take my logical look on life into a relationship. I know now that balancing a checkbook does not a good marriage make. And that not fighting is not good. Most couples can choose a washer/dryer and agree on which house to buy. But not everyone can cross the Maginot line in my heart. The papers in that envelope are the first prisoners of my personal war to find a place in another human heart. My armory in this fight is the poetry of T.S. Elliott, the smell of gardenias, the creak of wicker porch furniture, and the lull of Interstate 75 on the way to the Mc Callie School. These pasts lead me to the memory that I have been by love possessed. And the belief that I should be, again.
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