There’s this little white blank church I would pass everyday on my way to work. I’d find myself wondering, who worships here, who fills this place every Sunday? What are their thoughts, hopes, desires, and pains? That happened every morning for a few months. I was so tempted to return on a Sunday, the place was so lonely, but I knew there was a time of infusion. The worshippers would come and breathe vitality into this place.
In your life there comes an instant where you really have to sit and evaluate who you are and what you’re living for. This moment isn’t the same for everyone. For some it comes by a breath of happiness, others tragedy, some change. I can remember the day I got married. I thought this was my juncture. Here I would ask, “Who are you? Who loves you? And then, you are going to have this beautiful life with this beautiful person—you are defined.” But these moments aren’t so easily recognized, and oftentimes they happen without us even noticing it. This is how it happened to me. I did get married, I remember pieces of that day so vividly, and I hold them in my heart, mostly so I can share them with little e. I recall the pink cake, and how the train on my dress ripped unexpectedly, I remember sitting on a bench, surrounded by white, staring out through the etched windows of the church. Uniquely, I remember doing all of these things by myself (this is quite anomalous for someone’s wedding day). I don’t ever remember being scared, or worried, or even unsure. I felt blank. This was not my moment.
Six years have passed since that occasion. Now, I find myself meditating on who I’ve become and what that experience did to my life. I realize that I’m angry. I’m so mad at the person who betrayed me–he let me down. I direct that anger, not at him, but at people I’ve dated since him. It may be something they do, something they say, it reminds me, and then suddenly I see a reflection of his face staring back at me. While this is happening, I let him do whatever he wants. I never show disappointment, or rage, for him I am still blank. Once he told me, after everything was done, he was about to remarry, “I am so sorry for ruining you.” I responded with a quick, “thanks?” That was my first evaluation session (some people have more than one). I was no one, a ruined individual that was it. Well, you know what they say, “ruin is the road to transformation.” I gave myself a few months and began taking that seriously. Then with the start of this project there came my second moment. I write it out and I begin to see who I am and what my dreams are. I’ve accomplished. I’ve lived. I don’t feel ruined anymore, but I have to stop being angry or I’ll never capture what I am truly living for, happiness.
So, I asked myself last night, what good has come from the end of that marriage? Immediately I thought, the people I have met. I think about all of them.
Steve, his wife died of cancer and now he’s a single dad with two beautiful girls. Chloe, his miracle baby. She was delivered premature so that Bridget (Steve’s wife) could undergo chemo. Then there’s Grace. Steve once told me that while driving in the car Grace noticed the leaves outside falling, blowing away. She said something like, “Daddy, that’s like mommy right? The leaves come and go.” He loved that moment because his little girl understood life and death. Steve taught that there is beauty in tragedy, and hope.
Karen, when I met her she was weak but at a distance I have seen her grow into someone of strength and courage. Her family lives in Hawaii and she raises her son on her own.
Jason, his wife also died of cancer. He graduated law school, top of his class, and got a job with one of the best firms in Nevada. He bought a new home and then six months ago sold it after being laid off. His daughter McKenna is beautiful and has a stitched pillow on her bed with a picture of her Mom holding her. I met him right after my divorce and he taught how to move on.
Wayne. I wonder about this one. I spent a year crying that we weren’t together but then one day I realized, that’s a good thing, now you know what it feels like to love someone. I never felt blank with him.
Dr. S, our custody evaluator. I spent numerous trips to San Diego for sessions with this fellow. He reassured me of all my parental intentions. He never said, “you’re a great mom,” instead he said something much deeper, “you have a spectacular child, one who is very loved, I thoroughly enjoy little e.” He restored my worth as a mother.
Joey. A Mormon that taught me Mormons are good when I stopped believing they were.
Jerry. He gave me my first job after my divorce. When I started working for him I was timid. I didn’t even know how to say, “I WANT THIS.” After leaving his office I worked for a law firm (that should give you a good idea of my progression). I ran into him at the grocery store about two months ago, he said, “I can just see how you’re different. You’ve got life in you. You’re in a great place.” He was a stepping stone. I had to start somewhere and he gave me that opportunity.
The countless men I’ve dated. They’ve taught me how to date, how to pray, how to recognize a wanker, how to listen, cultural awareness, money management, passion.
Glen. He’s my attorney friend who always has good advice. He’s also always on IM chat and easily accessible. We’ve been friends for three years now.
Scott. A single Dad who loves taking me to concerts and being my “wingman.” He’s always willing to take one for the team.
Chloe. I just met her, but she reminds me of all my college girlfriends. Chloe laughs with me and it gives me a sense of “times gone by.” She’s great.
James. He taught me about addiction, what it’s like to live in the shadow of it. I pray for him. Memories of James helped me through some tough family times. I needed to meet him.
Toby. He sold me an Anthropologie rug off craigslist. A cute aussie who has since moved back to Melbourne. In a late night conversation he was able to get through to me. He also taught me the word “wankers,” which I love.
Jonathon. He started out as the perfect date. He’s an English professor who loves literature. I learned from him that I may be able to get a job when I someday finish school.
Professor Ochoa. She told me that someday I’ll write a book.
I look at all these people and cannot help but smile. They’ve given me so much life, they are all so beautiful, and have attributed to the transformation currently underway. I am like the white church, the blank lonely church, and all of my friends they are the worshippers. They come into my life, at their moments, and they infuse me. I am going to stop being angry, and self-conscious, and closed. I am going to let more people in. I said before that life is defined by moments, but I retract that statement. Instead, life is defined by the moments you share with others.