Steven Axelrod, with part one of a seven part series from the front lines of modern divorce.
It was finally over.
I stumbled through the darkness in the brittle November air. I could hear the wind chattering in the trees, and distant surf on the south shore. There was the sound of a car engine in the distance, faint and growing fainter.
She had finally said it.
“I don’t love you any more.”
I banged my fists on my thighs, throttled and gasping. I hadn’t even grabbed my coat. But I couldn’t be in the house with her for one more second.
And this was how pitifully little she knew me – she couldn’t understand why those words would stop a conversation. Didn’t I know it already? Wasn’t it obvious? She was right, too – I had no business being surprised. We had been in the middle of the unspoken knowledge for years. It was like living in Chernobyl as desperate Russians were starting to do again now: ignoring the obvious and waiting for the symptoms to show.
Someone in a Ford ranger offered me a ride. I shook my head, waved them on.
I was talking to myself and I didn‘t want anyone else to hear. Only crazy people talk to themselves. Fine. I felt crazy tonight. I spoke to the black asphalt under my feet:
If there’s no love, what’s the point? It’s waiting in a movie line in front of a closed theatre. It’s soggy cereal, it’s tepid coffee, it’s cold toast and hard butter. It’s corrupted computer files and broken shoelaces and the look on the doctor’s face when he brings you the biopsy report. It’s dread and boredom, fear and guilt, it’s every putrid emotion. It’s years and years of more of the same. It’s waste. It’s not even tragedy. There are no heroes. It’s smaller than life. It’s the tea scum that won’t come off the inside of your cup, it’s the glare of sunlight on chrome in your eyes. It’s skidmarks in your underwear and nail clippings in the carpet. It’s the juice at the bottom of the garbage bag.
Shit, in other words.
Without love it’s nothing but shit.
I ran out of breath. I found I was crying. It was a physical response, like a cramp. I walked and walked until I realized I had no destination. I was just stalling. I couldn’t stay out much longer in the cold. There was no one I could stay with in this alien place, no one I could trust to hear my story.
There was nowhere to go but home.
So I went there.
Photo: A Ferris wheel sits abandoned in the deserted town of Pripyat, less than two miles from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant by Sergey Ponomarev / AP