And so we come to the portion of our program called Act II. Act I is always our character’s development and set-up. It’s an introduction to our leading lady, her life, her situation, her foibles, sprinkled with a few obvious jokes. Act II, however, is distinctly different. We introduce change, obstacle, challenge, heartbreak and, ok, a few more obvious jokes (but only because you asked so nicely). Act II moves our heroin’s story and gives her arc.
Act II, Scene 1: Miss-Adventures finally moves into her own apartment.
I realize now that I neglected to mention that for the first three months of my dating misadventures, I was still inhabiting the same living space as my ex wife. Awkward much? Oh yeah. Tense? You betcha. Obviously, it wasn’t my first choice to continue living in the same apartment with my ex wife and her newly adopted post-split roommate from down under (my god, it was fucking crowded!), but rents are STOOPID expensive in this town and I had a lead on a fantastic apartment, in a great neighborhood and at just the right price. All I had to do was wait it out until the apartment became available.
Oh, did I mention that said new apartment was just downstairs in the same building? Leave it to Miss-Adventures to do the unthinkable. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, whatthefuck?! or, are you sure about that? or, isn't that going to be awkward?, I would have a whole lotta nickels (but unfortunately for me, still not enough to cover my STOOPID expensive rent).
Is it a little unconventional for two ex-spouses to continue to live as close neighbors? Umm, yeah, I guess so. But this living arrangement did come with huge advantages. The first being that this would be the easiest move in the history of all moves. No muss, no fuss! Gay Husband, my always-willing-to-lend-a-hand brother-in-law and I finished moving me into my new apartment in under three hours! That has to be some kind of record, right? The second was that while my ex wife got custody of our dog and I got custody of our two cats, we could easily manage to visit “the children” as often as we wanted. And third, despite some strange awkwardness and residual anger after splitting up, we always knew we wanted to remain close friends.
Seven years of friendship and history cannot be replaced. No one knows or understands me better than my ex wife, and just because the passion died and the love changed doesn’t change the fact that we both know we have always and will always have each other’s backs. Still, coming to that realization and comfort with our new relationship didn’t come instantly. So when I finally moved downstairs into my own apartment, we were still working through the hodgepodge of divorced-people’s emotions. It was confusing times.
Act II, Scene 2: Our beloved dog passes away.
She was the sweetest, smartest, friendliest, most lovable dog with the happiest face you’ve ever seen in your life and she died three weeks (!!!) after I moved into my new place. Neither my ex or I had any clue that she was sick so her diagnosis and subsequent death 2 days later came as one hell of a shock to us both.
Nothing puts perspective back in your life quite like the tragedy of losing a beloved family member. It was our dog’s death that forced me to let go of any residual resentment, pent-up hostility and lingering bitterness. In the end, we were just two people: dog owners, true friends and former lovers grieving over the loss of our child.
Lesson Learned: Life is so short. Bitterness leaves you empty. Love in any form can fill you up.
For the first time in several uncomfortable, tense and heartbreaking months, I told my ex wife that she would always be my best friend and that I would always be there for her. I miss our dog desperately and no one will ever replace her or fill the void that she left when she passed away but she gave me a great gift: perspective, and the ability to let go of my petty bullshit. I think she would be proud.
I love you, Berks.