As summer was drawing to a close, it was becoming very clear that neither Damian nor I were willing to face another Portland winter. We had tried, very hard, to make Portland feel like “our city” again, but the dead-weight dread we both felt in our guts each time we considered the impending autumn – well, that was enough to tell us that we had failed. A person should not have a panic attack when the seasons change.
I Instagrammed: “You know that one flight where the kid got air sick and vomited all over himself and the seats, and you had to clean it up with diaper wipes and napkins, and then you had to change his clothes, and then later he pooped all over himself and his seat and you didn’t have any wipes left, and you had to change his clothes mid-air for the second time? Remember that? That was the flight you took advantage of the complimentary wine.” Yeah, turned out to be a rough trip.
We continued to see our couples counselor, although of course the focus had shifted. The strange thing is, from the time we decided to separate in late August, to the moment we actually did it in early October, there was this entire, like, month of living together. September. And you’d think it would’ve been hard – well it was in many ways – but it was also . . . sort of nice?
See, I decided to marry Damian because he is a Fucking Awesome Person. I decided to bear his child for the same reason. And when we decided to separate, he didn’t stop being a Fucking Awesome Person. And I didn’t stop loving, admiring, or respecting him.
Luckily, that feeling is mutual.
And so, in that month of Limbo, we maintained our love and respect. There were tears, yes, but there wasn’t any yelling. There was sadness, but not anger. Grief, but not blame. Ours just wasn’t a combative separation. If anything, it was entirely supportive. We talked a lot about Waits – about how to tell him, how best to ease him through the transition, and about shared-parenting strategies. We planned out ways to split responsibilities, disentangle our financial obligations, and how the next few months would unfold. Each of us remarked on several occasions how that month, in many ways, we felt closer than we had in years. We’re a good team.
I spent a lot of time in September worrying. Well basically, it was constant. I was about to become a single mother. I’d spent the past few years raising my boy, I had no “career” to speak of and my income – if you could call it that – was pitiful. Of course Damian would help, at first, but we were moving to one of the most expensive cities in the country (literally) and would need to be renting two places as opposed to just paying our one mortgage. Plus, we’d decided to keep the Portland house, and since rent wouldn’t cover the mortgage there we’d be taking a loss each month.
And I worried about where I would live, since the Craigslist ads in my price range were mostly for studios – yes, a single room for Waits and I, living-eating-sleeping in one space. Santa Barbara is really, really expensive as well as really REALLY NOT dog-friendly. I worried so much about how it would all work out.
On 9/24 I wrote:
I feel like time is flying. The days are whizzing past me and I’m just standing still. Paralyzed. I want to take a step towards my future, but I have no options.
On 9/27 Jo had her baby girl. I wrote:
. . . and sad, for myself. Today I wish that I had the body constitution to thrive in the Portland climate. I wish that my marriage was happy and healthy. I wish that it worked. Today I wish that I could have another baby, because I wanted one. I wish that things were different, but they’re not.
On 9/28 I saw Amanda Palmer live. Synchronicity. A blessing.
And on 9/29 I watched this TED Talk which still gives me chills, and I felt hope knowing that this was only one September of many.
Still. As Septembers go, it wasn’t an easy one.
October, coming soon . . .