Posted by: shelliejelly | May 26, 2009

From where I sit

My mom and I took the train down early. We sat in the station for a few minutes debating whether either of us had the stomach for a coffee (for me) or a soda (for her). Turns out we didn’t.

Walking those blocks to the courthouse, I talked to her about how much I missed working in the city. I retold the story of how during my first week working downtown I’d run into the same man in a wheelchair sitting on the west end of the bridge crossing the river, shaking a cup of change. My only recently urbanized heart couldn’t help but crack the teeniest bit every morning I walked past, sympathy and a genuine desire to help seeping out, slowly. After two weeks, I stuck a twenty dollar bill in his hand one morning, making a note to myself to continue giving. “But I didn’t,” I admitted to my Mom, wondering if these broken promises to help others is why everything I’ve ever held dear eventually slips through my hands. K., first. O., later.

The guards at the metal detectors were cold and unhelpful, unenthusiastically pointing toward a bank of elevators when I asked how to get to courtroom 1206A. I’m not sure what I expected, certainly not a pat on the shoulder or a wink and a “keep your chin up,” but something perhaps slightly more endearing then a flick of the hand.

I was the first to arrive at the courtroom, 15 minutes early, only shortly before two lawyers discussing a contentious divorce. Husband and wife unable to tolerate one another; husband hiding money so he doesn’t have to pay child support; girlfriends showing up with new jewelry and new cars while wife waits for thousands of dollars for the care of their children. I silently catalog the exchange for when I need to remember how to handle myself; when I need to stop spitting venom.

My lawyer shows up, explains what will happen, and, when we’re called, I take my seat as she lobs question after question to me. What is your name? Were you married on May 26, 2006? What seem an endless string of minor details require only a yes or no answer, but I still feel like I have to bite my tongue so I don’t accidentally shout “Yes, yes, Jesus Christ I’ve answered all this shit before, can’t anything just be simple?” I politely stare at the court reporter so she can get all of the words correct, and when the judge tells me he’s granted me a divorce, I glance back at my mom, who looks almost as sad as she did on the day we buried K.

The thing that really gets me, the reality I can’t stop thinking about sometimes, is that he didn’t lift a finger to stop this boulder from rolling right over our lives. He watched, uselessly, from the sidelines as I methodically dissembled our marriage, our commitment, losing everything with one swift crack of a stranger’s gavel.


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