Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Farewell the child bride

Rachel filed for divorce Tuesday. The great state of Utah (where she lives now) is allowing us to waive a 90-day waiting period, which means all that is required is my signature. I'm not sure why we get to waive the waiting period; I would have thought that the traditionally conservative Beehive State would be keen on imposing that sort of thing. Perhaps Rachel told them I have socialist sympathies, so they've decided to rush it through. Tomorrow Gov. Gary Richard Herbert will himself show up at the front door: "Hey, remember that scene in Bourne Supremacy when homey uses a magazine to kick a dude's ass? I got a copy of the Ensign right here, yo, and I'm 'bout to fuck your shit up if you don't put your name on the dotted line."

Actually, I'm quietly hoping that the divorce papers will be served as in films and television: some creepy bloke in a cheap suit will more or less ambush me and shove the papers in my face.

"Mr. Cope?"
"Consider yourself served," he'll say, pressing the papers to my chest and then clicking shut his briefcase with snooty aplomb.

I am going to keep my video camera by the door in hopes of filming the moment. I may first make the solicitor chase me down the street a bit, me running in comedy Big Ten style, holding my hands to my ears and shouting: "La, la, la! I'm not listening! La, la, la!"

If my life were a Coen Brothers film, we would encounter crazy sword lady mid-chase and the whole episode would then lead to my getting entangled with a small-time criminal gang from Splott, who would bury the solicitor's body at Millennium Stadium. There, it would be dug up amid a critical scrum in next week's Wales vs. Scotland rugby match and Lee Byrne would again face a ban because there would be too many men on the field.

But in real life, I'll just sign the papers, put them in the post, and gone will be the dreams of that young man who stood more than a decade ago amid the painted rocks of Southern Utah and held the hand of his fiancée, bringing it to his lips, kissing the fingers, and said: "Isn't it amazing? There'll be a wedding ring on this finger soon. You're going be my wife; I'm going be your husband. I'm so happy."

Change is the only constant.

I am heartbroken over it. My brain doesn't work. I just sit and stare. If you want to see me cry, all you need do is give me the hug I so desperately need and I will fall apart.

It's not that this was unexpected; it's just that it's happening. It's kind of like crying at a funeral. If you show up at a funeral, there's no surprise. You know someone's dead -- that's why you're at a funeral. But the formality of it seems to intensify the grief.

Rachel left in September, and when she did I cried so hard I felt my lungs would burst. But over time I developed the brilliant technique of just sort of shrugging my shoulders and making that teenager "I dunno" sound when people would ask me what was going on. Rachel did not make that sound, and when I would hear from her I could tell that this was coming. Becoming a statistic, as J. Scott Wilson once phrased it, became inevitable. So, when Rachel told me Sunday that she would be filing, I wasn't surprised.

"Yeah, I know," I thought in my head, and quickly attempted to change the subject by telling her about rugby.

She steered things back to reality. There were long pauses. And I felt as if I were in a space capsule where the airlock had been opened and the ambitions of ten years were escaping, dissipating, into the great emptiness. Those dreams we dreamed, those plans we made, those things we said -- gone. And the loneliness of this house wrapped around me and squeezed. There are some kind souls in Cardiff, but in a practical sense there is no one here for me to lean on. My very best friends, my pillars, are thousands of miles away.

And I'm here. The fridge whines, the silence sings.

Rachel sent an e-mail Wednesday to let me know about certain details of the divorce -- what I need to do, by when, etc. But she also said this, which she agreed to let me post on my site:

"I don't regret the past 10 years. It seems like it would be easy to do... But I am the person I am today because of the past 10 years. And I like who I am. And I would not have become this person without you. Thank you for all you have given me. You have made me stronger and more tolerant and more well-rounded and well-travelled and more knowledgeable about many things. I'm thankful for the good times and for all the things you have given me and for the love we shared."

And I'd like to return that sentiment. I don't plan to write anything more about the divorce or Rachel because they are not things of entertainment. When I write about people they become sort of characters in the narrative of my world and I fear that Rachel's having left would somehow make her seem like the bad guy. She's not. So, that part of my life will go back to being hidden. But I would like to say this:

I have never met a person who is so completely wonderful as Rachel. If she has a fault it is only that she will give the whole of herself. She is beautiful, brilliant, caring, patient, funny, industrious, a hell of a cook and one of the most genuine souls I've ever known. And I can say honestly that I quite possibly would not even be alive if it weren't for her. I don't regret the past 10 years -- they were some of the best of my life.

Farewell, the child bride. I love you.