In some YouTube surfing tonight I came across a video from The Piano Guys covering One Direction’s Story of My Life. I haven’t seen the original 1D video, but I knew thirty seconds in that I was going to like this one more. For starters, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for orchestral instruments. I played the violin growing up, and although it’s been sitting in my apartment with me, I haven’t touched it. Musical medium aside, watching the video really strummed some tightly-wound heart strings.
There’s something about a love story that began when the two were children that I will always hold dear, but unfortunately will (probably) not experience in full bloom. Strap in, folks, because we’re taking a trip back, way back, way before I was in any way, shape, or form near to interacting with my ex-wife. Yes, my diving into the rabbit hole of divorce is what sparked this new blog, but this isn’t just about a marriage that cracked, a man that is rising from the wreckage, or about life after the judge signs the papers. It’s about [cue dramatic timpani and three power chords on the baby grand]…
This blog is not just about a divorce. It is not just about my ex-wife and I going our separate ways. It isn’t about a “failed marriage,” or giving up, or throwing in the towel. It isn’t even about love. Nope, not love. Not at all. I’m not going to write about a concept, a feeling, an abstract noun.
It’s about loving.
It’s about always loving, being open to love, loving when I’m not loved, and loving after being so far I can’t tell if the love was even there in the first place. It’s about the continuous act and devotion from a soul so powerful that I can’t turn it off. I don’t want to.
I’m talking about before deployments, fish and chips, and hours in phone booths overseas with calling cards, there was awkward high school. Before my first sunrise on the beach, first make-out session in a car, and definitely before my first kiss. Before I got into theater, joined my church youth group, or even thought about girls like that, there were days on the swings, playing hand games and hopscotch, and waiting in line for tetherball with everyone else even though I knew my lack of height would only plague me in the circle of public shame.
I knew who I wanted to marry before I started junior high. She was it. The perfect girl. The smile, the eyes, the skin, the light that radiated from every strand of hair, each dimple, and every word she uttered from her mouth. She was what I wanted before I even knew I wanted anyone. We didn’t have a storybook childhood love story like The Piano Guys video illustrated, or like any other music video, book, or movie depicts. But I loved her so openly and told her often. And she did too. She was my first love and my first best friend. We never dated, held hands, kissed, or anything that would be associated with a romantic relationship, but I knew that that is what love was going to mean for me.
And after high school as I left for the military, we still stayed in touch. When I came home after graduating from my specialty school, I stopped at her house first, before coming home to my parents’ house. When I was on deployment she would write me letters and send me pictures that I would receive in port. I’d call her from the phone booth on the pier in the late hours since we were hours apart. To me, this was my storybook love story.
As our lives would have it, we still dated on our own, but still kept in touch and remained friends during these times, sometimes venting and giving each other advice (more so her giving me advice, but still, it was a two-way street). When I got out, I eventually moved back home, but she had moved out to go out on her own journey to college. I started my own path to a degree as well at a local community college, and when the opportunity arose to take a trip to New York for a week to see several Broadway shows among other things, I had to take it.
It was my first time in NYC, and with every theater I passed, every poster I took pictures by, and show I saw, I knew that the arts were definitely for me. You could say it was one of the best trips of my life. And on this trip I would receive one of the biggest phone calls of my life.
On the road, on a weekend trip home from college, there was a car crash that claimed the life of the girl that always knew how to make everything better. And sitting on the steps a church on 5th Avenue where I took that call, my world fell apart.
Every girl I dated after that had been subject to a comparison with my now guardian angel. I know this is a terrible thing to do, but looking back, although I enjoyed many of those relationships, they had been shadowed by my continued love for my best friend. As I got older, and as the years passed, it became easier to stop playing the “What if” game. I wasn’t helping myself heal at all if I kept going back and thinking what I could have done different, and it wasn’t fair to anyone I had met if I wasn’t allowing myself to fully love them.
Until I met the woman I actually did marry.
After breaking up with a girlfriend who was more of a business partner (and the only one who said a disrespectful word about my first love) I felt so compelled to date my eventual wife in a way that I had not felt since elementary school, but now even stronger. I could now honestly say that I had finally moved on from my dear angel’s death, and that I am able to fully love again. And so I did. And I went all in.
But maybe that’s where I got myself mixed up. Just because my ex-wife was the one to help me set my heart free again, it did not automatically mean that she was The One. Fortunately, we both realized this in a relatively short amount of time, and through this I have once again bruised my soul, but that does not mean I love any less. If anything, I’m emotionally more free than I have ever been, and much more mature, and definitely more confident than I was years ago in elementary school.
Although it doesn’t always feel that way.
This, my friends, is the spine of my story about loving.
This is a Divorce Dissected.
R.I.P. A.R.M. 12/12/83-5/30/06