Those of us who have crossed to the other side and got the dreaded D done, know that a divorce doesn’t just happen. It’s not like you think the word and abracadabra, you’re living in separate homes, dating different people, licking your wounds in private and trying to forget a life you had.
There is a process and I’m not talking about ducking when the knives are thrown. If, hopefully, you’re doing one of those civilized should-we-do-a-divorce kind-of thing, then most couples will try a separation. Maybe there is a compelling need to test whether distance does make the heart go fonder. The problem is when the heart hums with alarming frequency ‘Good Riddance’ during this time.
Being polite and well-mannered, which I must say was part of the problem, both of us dutifully did the separation thing. I moved out (I think the woman gets to keep the house only in movies, growl), luckily into a rather pretty flat, found a fabulous cook, a near-by florist who sold fresh flowers and a second-hand bookstore at walking distance. Trust me, it helps. Every little bit of happiness helps in this sea of unknowing.
A few weeks later, a common friend invited me to a party. I put on my ‘I-can-be-happy-and-normal’ skirt, a dash of mascara and I was off, feeling relatively happy and confidently attractive. I didn’t realize I was walking into a minefield of words and labels. I was going to get trapped by the basic need of every person to provide a context to someone new they meet. Read X’s girlfriend, Q’ sister, single, wife, gay … weird?
But first, I poured myself a beer and perched on a sofa amidst some friendly strange faces. They were talking about something and I listened with interest (Remember the well-mannered bit?). Suddenly, I noticed a movement to my right. A rather nice looking bloke had just planted himself next to me.
Now I wasn’t thinking anything. Okay, that’s untrue. I was sort-of single and it was exciting to have someone fairly attractive choose my corner. We got talking; hit it off rather well, I must say, all that getting each other’s jokes, liking the same book, ignoring the vegetarian starters, etc.
Towards the end of the party, we were all gathering our respective purses and cooing our goodbyes, when he asked me for my number. Now if I was a normal singleton, I would have handed it out a-la-flippantly with an I-don’t-care-if-you-call coolness. However, technically, at that moment I wasn’t single.
He saw my indecisiveness, misread it, mumbled an apology and was walking out, when I blurted, “I’m separated”. There was visible relief in his eyes and with an ease that was almost scary, he asked, “So are you trying-out separated or serious-separated?”
I didn’t know what that meant or what I was. He explained it to me over coffee, a few days later.
Trying-Out Separated: Where the partners are dating people to see if they have feelings for each other still. Most singletons won’t date them. Too risky and nobody likes to be somebody else’s experiment.
Serious Separated: The marriage can’t be repaired. The person is a singleton in body and spirit. The only place where the person isn’t single is on paper and that’s a technicality, time will solve, when the divorce papers come.
No, this isn’t a love story. That guy and I became good friends. The outcome of this party was that I decided not to socialize with strangers till I figured whether I was Trying-Out Separated or Serious Separated. Maybe not the smartest thing to do but that’s the way I dance to this song.
Dancing Divorcee is a weekly happy, sad, funny, obnoxious blog on the misadventure called divorce. It will appear every Thursday. Arathi Menon is a dancing divorcee who also blogs, writes, tweets and repairs brands.