This will probably be my last divorce-related post for a while. You see, I just started the legal divorce process this past Friday. When this post goes up, it will be 84 days until I can hand in my second and final set of paperwork, pay my last $20.00, and wait for the official decree to arrive in the mail.
Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, by comparison to other counties, other states, makes divorce pretty doable without a lawyer, presuming you don’t want to make a fuss over the whole thing. My ex and I were able to complete our paperwork fully and correctly on the first try. I knew we would be. I wasn’t concerned about that.
What I was actually concerned about was how I would react after not having seen or really talked to him in about 7 months, if I would fall into the pattern of feeling brow-beaten and easily manipulated. So I dressed up, put on make-up, listened to some truly embarrassing pop music, and drove downtown on my lunch break to meet up with my ex.
It was a bitingly cold day in the city of Pittsburgh, windy and not at all conducive to waiting on the steps of the county building for my ex who, per usual, was running late. When I finally saw him making his way up the steps, I will admit I pretended I hadn’t been looking and waited for him to reach the bench I sat on before I acknowledged him.
When he greeted me I noticed that his accent seemed thicker than before (he’s Eastern European), but realized suddenly I’d grown unused to it was all. In the past I was always very confused when people had trouble understanding him, but then I realized why. I kept distance between us. As we walked toward the coffee shop where we’d planned to do the paperwork, he told me it was good to see me. I replied with silence.
Once we reached the coffee shop, got our drinks, and sat down, the issue that has almost caused a conflict via email came up – who would be the plaintiff and who would be the defendant. Because our marriage had resulted in a green card for him, he said, he had originally been worried that being the defendant would look bad to employers/the government/etc., but then had realized they could also look at him being the plaintiff with mistrust as well.
I hadn’t thought of that particular issue, and he hadn’t mentioned it until that moment. He has always been very defensive about how people view him, as a foreigner. I never witnessed the level of discrimination he described to me, but I’m sure it exists. But, realizing that either position could make him look bad if someone wanted to see him that way, my ex told me he didn’t really care if he was the plaintiff or the defendant. And once he didn’t care, suddenly the last bits of my caring about the issue fell away, too.
So we flipped a coin. I’m the defendant.
In Allegheny County in the state of Pennsylvania, a no-fault, lawyer-free divorce comes to about $210.00. $28.00 for your paperwork, $161.50 for the first round of paperwork, and $20.00 for the final filing. It must be paid in cash or by money order. We didn’t realize this when we arrived at the county building, so I ran and got cash while my ex filled out a final paper. I practically skipped to the bank. When I returned, it was clear he had been crying.
I don’t mean to sound callous, but getting divorced excites me. I’m excited to be divorced. Perhaps this is unfair, but a large part of me feels like if my ex was so very sad to be splitting with me, perhaps he should have been kinder, worked to not make me feel terrible about myself. In the end it was how judged and not-good-enough I felt all the time that made me end things, and it wasn’t as though I never told him that was how I felt in our relationship. I used to cry every day. Since I split with him, I have not once cried to the degree that I cried when I was with him. Any crying has been over quickly, and has been very infrequent. If I ever questioned my decision after I first moved out (though I cannot recall doing so), I certainly do not now.
We filed our paperwork. We paid our fee. I tried not to seem too giddy, but made chirpy conversation with the clerk almost in spite of myself. When my ex and I parted ways there was no hug, there were no words of reassurance. I had none to give, and after my silence when we first met up, I suspect he wasn’t terribly keen on putting himself in an awkward spot again.
We will not be friends. I am friends with one or two of my exes, but he will not join their ranks. I’m not sorry I was in this relationship, because I am very very happy with my life now, and who knows where I would be if we’d never met? But I’m ready to move on completely, and I feel like I am finally making that happen.
Image: TheZachMorrisExperience on Wikipedia
Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been collected in 2 chapbooks – Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press, 2011) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt, 2009) as well as in many literary journals and anthologies. She edits the chapbook micropress Hyacinth Girl Press, attempts to repair antique typewriters, and spends far too much time at haunted hotels in coal mining towns for her own good. She’s only been suspected of being possessed once and hopes to someday become a rogue taxidermist. She misses the Midwest. Follow her on Twitter @myhyacinthgirl