The calendar is not my friend.
Since my divorce, that familiar landscape of numbered months and days has been littered with emotional minefields. Some of these are conspicuously marked while others sneak up on me, not that it makes much difference; I have to march through all of them regardless.
Right up ahead is one of the biggest hazards: 6/28, the date of our wedding. It would have been our fifteenth anniversary, crystal, the point at which tradition ceases to view a single year together as being worth notice and begins bestowing its blessings only on quinquennia.
The other major obstacle lies at the opposite end of the year. It's not quite as precisely defined, but for simplicity's sake, let's call it Martin Luther King Day weekend, over which we became a couple some eighteen years ago, and the point when, 2½ years ago, it became clear that we no longer were one.
Scattered between these two poles are a host of other dates presenting varying degrees of danger: New Year's Eve (for sixteen of which we made sure we kissed at the stroke of midnight); Valentine's Day (dismissing it as a hollow, commercial event was a lot easier when I was in a relationship—as a divorcé, it smacks of sour grapes); Mother's and Father's Day (which can be doubly awkward depending on how the visitations fall); and any other holiday involving significant family gatherings (notably Thanksgiving and Christmas).
There are also less important dates that are still capable of tripping me up: an in-law's birthday, kept on the calendar for the children's sake, or that of a once-mutual friend who wound up in her column during the division of social assets. And then there are the ones that come completely out of the blue: distant acquaintances' and total strangers' weddings/anniversaries/birth announcements popping unexpected from my Twitter stream.
All of these dates are reminders of previous days spent together, as a couple, as a family, days now consigned to a past that increasingly feels like it belongs to someone else's life. They remind me that I once belonged to something bigger than myself, something that exists now only as wreckage: a failed marriage, a broken family, the shrapnel of ‘irreconcilable differences’.
Thus far, I have said almost nothing publicly about the reasons for our divorce, and I have no intention of elaborating on them now. What passed between us can remain between us. I have thought enough about ‘who's to blame’ to realize it is a futile and toxic line of thought. Sixteen years is plenty of time to amass grievances and accumulate regrets, to make second-guessable decisions and suffer from bad luck. On one level, I understand the many factors that contributed to the end of our marriage. Have I ‘accepted’ that ending? Have I ‘forgiven’ either of us for not being able to stave off that ending? No, and to be honest, it is still hard to imagine ever achieving that kind of equanimity. I try, however, to have faith in its possibility, and to work toward it.
In the meantime, I continue to tread as lightly as I can through the past's volatile debris and try to complete another circuit of the calendar more or less intact.