I don’t always blog about things in order. And many things I don’t blog about at all. Right now I’m dropping right into mid break-up time, it’s kind of like clicking channels and landing on a Lifetime Movie which is halfway over — and watching it anyway.
It was the dead of Winter. My then husband of many years had moved out just days prior. He took only one suitcase, although he had secured an apartment, a fact I discovered later. There is a very long a painful story here that is beyond the scope of this post (I say that often, I know). Anyway, I guess his plan was to come and go at his leisure to get the rest of his belongings. I realized that I couldn’t take that; having him leave the first time had been horrific, I couldn’t handle a repeat. Consequently, I told him I would get his things together so that he could pick them up in one trip. I packed and consolidated his stuff (again, the packing may be a subject of another post, it involved two of my bridesmaids, wine and Fatal Attraction). See My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra. Next, I planned to put his belongings outside on the porch for him to retrieve without me or the kids being involved at all.
I lived in a great neighborhood, people were always willing to help each other out. We (when the Ex and I were still a “we”) had made friends with another couple our age. We didn’t do the dinner party thing much (they were child-free, we were not, and my husband wasn’t really the socializing type — then) but we talked periodically and the neighbor husband was always helpful when we needed a another man to help move furniture or something. He was our Go-To Guy. So when everything was packed (behind closed doors so the kids wouldn’t have to see) and when the stuff was ready to be relocated to the porch, I called the Go-To Guy to help. His wife answered. When I asked if her husband was around to help me move something she told me he was out of town on business. But, she added, “If it’s not too heavy, I can help you. ”
“Uh, okay, thanks.” I replied, but didn’t tell her what I was moving. I hadn’t figured out how to tell that part yet. This was all so new, a fresh, deep, bleeding wound.
A few minutes later, she arrived, ready to help me.
“Okay, so what are we moving?” she asked, cheerfully. She is a very positive person.
“[Ex] has moved out we’re moving his stuff to the porch.”
This much must be understood. Neither this woman nor her husband had any idea there was trouble in paradise; I had been married for a long time and had “multiple” kids. See Fertile Myrtle. They had known us both for years. This was HUGE news. Huge.
But it’s her response to my major announcement that still makes me smile to this day, and it’s what I will always remember and love her for. She said, in a matter-of-fact, almost casual, way:
“Okay, maybe one day when you feel like it, you can tell me what happened.”
That’s it. That’s all she said. Then together we proceeded to move all of his packed belongings to the large covered porch. We didn’t discuss it at all. When we were done, she went home. As scheduled, my husband picked up his things early the next day while the kids and I slept.
Not that night, not the next day, but a little while later, I told her the whole story. But the fact that she did not ask or need to know or even need to ask that night shows what a good friend and person she was, and is.
People often wonder what to say in response to an announcement of a break-up or divorce.
Sometimes the response is, simply, “So where are the boxes?”
Just Me With . . . yet another good friend.
I was in law school. Or, actually I was done with law school and studying for the bar exam. In my infinite wisdom and with a splash of arrogance I decided I did not need the assistance of the bar exam prep courses everyone else took. No, I put myself on a home private study regimen. My husband and I had no children at the time, we were living in our little starter home with our adorable Labrador Retriever.
I would study most of the day, take a break in the evening when my husband got home, and then do a night shift of studying after he went to bed. My mini-split level had a pseudo downstairs den and a small damp room which I used as a study. There were sliding glass doors from the den opening to a small yard and beyond that, a wooded area. We hadn’t been in the house long. The previous owners used to leave the sliding doors cracked a bit so that their small dog could come and go, which, of course, allowed other critters to become accustomed to coming into the house. We, of course, discontinued that practice, kept the sliding doors closed, had the place exterminated, and didn’t have any problems with pests — or so I thought.
One night, during my late night study session downstairs, long after my husband had gone to bed, something ran across the room. It was NOT my adorable lab. No, this was smaller than a lab, bigger than a mouse, too fast to be a possum and had a long hairless tail. A freaking rat. A huge gray rat!
I gasped so hard, I almost swallowed my tongue. But, I’m a tough girl. Bugs don’t bother me. I’ll get dirty outside, I have a strange interest in serial killers and I seriously considered becoming a mortician at one point in my life — but vermin? — not my thing. I sat completely still waiting for it to come back. Afraid that if I moved it would come after me. I heard scratching; it was still in the house. So I did the responsible thing and ran up the half flight of stairs, through the kitchen, rounded the corner to the next flight of stairs, turned into my room, closed the door and jumped in bed. May have done it all in four steps. Studying done for the night. I woke up my husband, told him we had a rat. He didn’t get up, said he’d look for it in the morning. I had nothing more to do but wait for the sweet release of sleep, behind my closed bedroom door.
My husband went to work very early. As usual, he got up before me. Before leaving, however, he woke me to exclaim that he’d killed the rat with an arrow — he had hunted it down and stabbed it. He asked me if I heard it screaming. I had not. He was so proud. But, he added, it had gotten away and he’d have to find it when he got home because he couldn’t be late for work. Huh? I was half asleep, murmured, okay. Thanks.
I woke later. Looking down the stairs, I saw my dog’s butt. She was on her haunches staring into the kitchen.
This can’t be good, I thought.
I was right.
I slowly descended the stairs and peeked into the kitchen. My dog looked up at me as if to say, “Um, we have a situation here.”
There, on my kitchen floor, was a quite large, dead rat. It had apparently been wounded and emerged from its hiding place and did a death crawl to the middle of my small kitchen. Entrails hanging, a train of blood and guts behind it. It finally succumbed to its wounds equidistant from the kitchen sink and refrigerator, almost blocking the steps to the downstairs den and study where my books were.
My study regimen for the day did not include disposing of a dead rat. My knight in shining armor did not complete the job.
I freaked. Of course I did the mature thing and went back to bed.
That didn’t last. I was afraid my dog would play with it. Really, though, the dog was like, “I’m not getting near that thing.” Plus, it was Summer and we did not have central air. My husband was unreachable, this was before cell phones and he worked on the road. I hadn’t made friends with any neighbors yet. I was on my own . . . and I needed to study. I considered grabbing my books and heading out to the library, my parents’ house, anywhere, to study for the day. But my books were downstairs, through the kitchen. My husband wouldn’t be home for hours.
I cursed him. I cursed him like I’d never cursed him before (of course events in later years have elevated my cursing him to an art form).
How could he go all Rambo like that on the rat and not finish the job — leaving his wife to dispose of the body? What kind of man was he to leave me with this mess? Oh, he must have been so proud running around stabbing this rat and then walking off into the sunrise, leaving the corpse to me, a sleeping student suffering through the stress of the impending bar exam. Damn, him. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Cursing him to myself did not help. The dead rat was still in the kitchen.
I’d taken my dog out the front door and around to the fenced back yard. The dead rat was still in the kitchen.
I cursed my husband again. The dead rat was still in the kitchen.
I’d have to get rid of it, without looking at it, without feeling its weight, without dropping it. I still shudder.
Damn him (husband), damn the rat.
The whole disposal operation took me about two hours. I had to rest between tasks. My study schedule was ruined for the day. Once the carcass was removed, I disinfected the floor to a level beyond operating room clean, many trees lost their lives to make the mound of paper towels I used. Lysol was my soul mate.
But I don’t think I ever went barefoot in that kitchen again.
When my husband came home I was a raving lunatic. He laughed. He thought it was hilarious. At some point much later I was able to laugh about it, too. But I still cursed him. I still do.
Clean up after your kill, man. Clean up after your kill.
Just Me With . . . a dead rat, paper towels, a shovel, Lysol, and trash bags.
See also, Tales from The Bar Exam