When I stand in the shower, I can almost pretend that nothing’s changed.
The bathtub, you see -when the curtain is closed and the hot water is beating down on my neck – is the only place in the house untouched by the massive upheaval caused by my pending divorce.
The living/dining area is totally different. There’s a new dining room table. The furniture has been rearranged. Bookshelves no longer line every wall, overflowing with Hubby’s impressive library, the one that covered philosophy, politics, religion, literature, science, economics and more, the one that allowed me to bask in a sort of reflected glory. Now only my books are on display, mostly pop-fiction and a collection of history books that shows a (probably unhealthy) obsession with the Tudors, and witchcraft. My video collection takes up more room than my library.
The marriage photos, the family groupings, the snapshots of the last 20-plus years, they’ve all been packed away. Tao’s beautiful face now beams from every frame, as a merry baby, as a sober high school grad.
The kitchen reflects the change in the household cooking habits. New dishes in the cupboards, red (Tao’s favourite colour) instead of blue (Hubby’s preference). New cutlery to replace the stuff Hubby took. No microwave, but a new rice cooker. Fruit and vegetables are everywhere now. No bags of chips. No microwave dinners in the freezer. Fresh herbs grow contentedly in a row of newly acquired pots decorated with sunny butterfly motifs.
Tao moved into Hubby’s office, painted it and turned it into a lovely, soothing bedroom. Breezy curtains have replaced the heavy closet doors. The windows are open all the time, sunshine pours in.
Her old room is her office now. Gone is the teenager’s bedroom that I sometimes crept into late at night, to peek at my ever-more-grown-up baby’s face, peacefully asleep. Sometimes I wept a little with pride, and nostalgia for the toddler who would demand “carry me UP, Mommy, carry me UP!”
My own room had new furniture, too. A new chest-of-drawers, new sheets. It’s otherwise the same, but different. Lonelier, perhaps, emptier without the hope of cuddling and passion and tenderness.
I miss being married. I miss the fact of being married. I had a companion, someone in my life who knew me intimately, both sexually and spiritually. He chose to be with me, an adult choice to bind his life to mine because loved me. I miss the pride of success that came from each successive anniversary: 15 years! 20! Each time, we congratulated ourselves on the hard work we’d done to beat the odds.
There’s a confidence that comes from being married: go ahead and smirk, all you young skinny people still in your prime. You’re trolling online dating services while I have someone that loves me at home – I win!
On a more basic level: I am not alone in this universe. Someone loves me.
I miss the smell of him. I miss the heat of a warm, masculine hug. I miss sitting on the sofa with someone who remembers the things I do, who has the same context when watching TV, or the news, or discussing, oh, everything. I miss the shared history, the ‘remember whens.’
There’s a comfort that comes from weaving your lives together, one that I miss terribly.
And so, I stand in the shower, the curtain pulled and the hot water pounding on the back of my neck, and let myself pretend for a moment that it’s, say, March 2011, back before our lives unraveled, and we fell forever apart. Hubby’s somewhere in the house eating soup, or reading a book, helping Tao with homework. The house looks like it always has. And when I’m finished washing my hair, when I step out of the shower, he will sneak in to hug me while I’m all warm, and smile, and life will be as it always was.