[A Quick Note about this post: Over the years, my wife has mentioned that this column — which I wrote after my divorce seven years ago — is one of her favorites, and the first column she read after Googling me to make sure I hadn't been on an episode of 48 Hours: Mystery. It hasn't been seen since 2006 when, thanks to the fates, the eyes I adore first read it. I've been thanking the fates every day since.]
There’s nothing funny about divorce. At least, not until you have time to gain some perspective and accept the fact that staying up until 2 a.m. reconfiguring the salt and pepper shakers on your dining room table is just part of the healing process.
Like vacuuming the kitchen tile and mopping the living room carpet.
Or getting excited over having extra closet space while at the same time avoiding that space as much as possible.
After a few months, I suddenly turned around and realized I had moved forward. As strange as it sounds, I think it started the day I threw away the last of the leftovers from when my ex-wife and I were still together.
Granted, they had been in there for quite a while already. Possibly even as far back as Cinco de Mayo, though I couldn’t be sure since the contents appeared to be a member of an unidentified fifth food group.
My point is, as I stood looking at that swollen plastic container of [food editor, please help me], I realized it symbolized much more than my inability, as a single father, to keep my children safe from a biological attack in their own kitchen.
Inside that container was something that had started out with lots of flavor; something good and enjoyable.
Something we had both contributed to.
And over time it had gotten lost somewhere behind everything else; was shuffled around; had things stacked on top of it.
It had probably even been checked for freshness a time or two and, regardless of how much it began to turn, had been placed back into the refrigerator until, eventually, I found myself standing there holding it — and knowing it had been going bad for a while.
Naturally, I hesitated to open it. Not just because of what it represented. But also because in the back of mind I knew there was a chance — however slight — that it contained enough bacterium to become self aware.
In addition to dealing with this rather delicate emotional moment, the last thing I needed was to find myself fighting off a salsa-based spore creature in my kitchen.
Open it, I did.
There was a burp, and a brief moment of panic until I realized it was just my Tupperwear saying:
It’s about time…(burp!) I couldn’t hold it much longer..!
While there are plenty of other remnants of our married life together, for some reason this unremarkable, very ordinary (except for its appearance) part of our past seemed especially poignant in that moment.
However, that moment passed.
Specifically, right around the time my son walked in and said, “Dad! What is that SMELL! Geez!”
And with that I held the container upside down and watched my leftovers disappear into the trash can. I then moved the trash onto the back porch.
Then the back yard.
And eventually the curb, on the next block, where it will remain until Monday, when my trash guy will be attacked by a self-aware salsa-based creature.
I’d like to thank all of you for your letters and e-mails over the last several weeks, and for your patience in letting me serve up leftovers while I got back into the swing of things.
It’s nice to be back.
[And thanks to all of you, dear readers of this blog, for allowing me to share this moment in time with you. And to You, my Love, for every moment since.]
(You can write to Ned Hickson at email@example.com, or Ned Hickson c/o Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore., 97439)