Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Big D

No, not diarrhea. Divorce. Yeah, if you didn't know, big shocker. My parents have decided to get a "mediated divorce". Basically, they both want to do it, and neither of them is massively pissed off at the other. So those clich├ęs of the woman tossing her husband's clothes out of the window into the street, or a man walking into a room where his wife is standing, teary-eyed, sobbing, "I want a divorce" are crap, in this case. My mom told me that when my dad moved to DC about a year ago, it was sort of a trial run to see if they were happier living apart than living together. Apparently they failed, and so over summer break they broke the news to Tony and I. You may wonder why I'm putting this on a public internet blog. It's just that I can see people getting annoyed with me when I talk about it to them in person. Like a little while ago, a friend and I were sitting in Chemistry class, chatting about people who piss us off, boys who drive us wild, and somehow the subject turned to my parents. This friend, ironically, has parents who are on a downward path as well, so she's generally a good person to talk to. I could tell she was getting slowly de-hyper-ized from my talking, and she and I were both silently grateful when another student piped up, saying, "Sir, it's time to go!".

Generally, in movies and other pop culture, a child of divorce shuts down emotionally, becomes really closed off, all that stereotypical stuff. As for me, I don't really feel any different in everyday life. Apparently, after spending a week in D.C. with my dad, he mentioned to my mom that it was surprising how normal I was acting. I guess he thought I would carry on the stereotype.

I often see pictures of my parents in their early to mid thirties, laughing and smiling as they cuddle freshly bathed toddler Tony or I. It makes me wonder, when these two were that young, with the world ahead of them, chomping on Chinese food instead of turkey on Christmas Eve, did they ever think they'd be where they are now? Hiring lawyers, signing papers, failing to hide settlement emails from their daughter. They had so much potential, I think to myself. What happened?

Halfway through our tour in Dhaka, Bangladesh, my dad stripped off his paint-splattered work boots and sawdust-covered squash t-shirts of his carpenter days, and began wearing button down shirts and dress pants to his new gig at an NGO, teaching family planning and handing out contraceptives. I never realized, at the time, that my dad was having his mid-life "crisis". He had been a carpenter since I was born, having learned the craft from his father-in-law. My 10-year-old mind just thought he was tired of being sweaty all the time. I never thought that maybe, he was tired of my mom wearing the pants in the family, making a steady salary, as Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, whereas he received cash here and there for odd, requested projects. I soon discovered that sitting in an air-conditioned office all day, editing proposals and gabbing by the water cooler made my dad touchier than when he was tinkering with his table saw, being his own boss, making cream cheese bagels in the microwave for lunch. We got in more screaming fights in that last year and a half than we ever had before. I, admittedly, was going through the beginning stages of puberty, and the boy-crazy hormones were kicking in. Looking back, I should have realized that the tension between my parents at this point probably wasn’t shrinking. A few times, I would open the door to the living room, to see my parents standing on either side of the room, staring daggers at each other, before they broke the picture and one of them kindly asked me to give them a few minutes.

Two spring breaks ago, we as a family went to Curacao for vacation. We had a lot of fun, hanging on the beach, playing Mini Golf every night after dinner, all that. One night, after the plates had been cleared away and just glasses and used napkins were left on the table, my dad said, "Suu, kiddiewinkles. We have some news". I don't remember what exactly he said after that, just that he told us he had taken a job in DC and was moving there sometime around June. I immediately started crying, and my mind went blank. Then, all of a sudden, I thought to myself, "How long til the divorce is finalized?" Then, just a few months ago, when my parents announced their divorce, guess what I thought? "Told you so."

Someone once said it's natural for people to want the ones they love to love each other. Well, as Lina Lamont says, I ain't people. If not being married anymore makes the people I love happier, then I'm happy.