So, in my previous life, I was that member of the family that everyone liked to make fun of. Come to think of it, sometimes I still am. It was all good-natured fun, you see, the typical kind of sarcasm that is based on something real and starts as a funny joke and then becomes super annoying.
So, apparently I may or may not have the tendency to overreact. I am not concurring one way or another. But things such as rain on a birthday party or high heels that pinch way too early in the night or a flat tire have been known to send me over the edge. At some point along the line of my life, I must have uttered those words everything’s ruined! because at some point it became a family joke.
Burgers that were just a little bit done? That I complained about? EVERYTHING’S RUINED! someone would shout, and everyone would hoot and holler at me. Sometimes I would participate in the joke myself, after spilling a drink and crying out EVERYTHING’S RUINED! much to the pleasure of my family members. Sometimes, it wasn’t funny at all, such as the impending ice storm that threatened to cancel my long awaited abdominal surgery a few years back. I was in tears as my mom cackled everything’s ruined hahah!
But now and then, I want to sit in a little pity party of one and bitch and moan about insignificant things (read: not death, disfiguring diseases, or a house fire) and just feel sorry for myself. And while I know intellectually that saying everything’s ruined in relation to my divorce is just giving PC power and just overlooking all the positive things…sometimes it just feels that way.
Tonight, for example. Tonight is my son’s most favorite night of the year. Not Christmas Eve, not Halloween (a close second) but something that gives his inner nerd that warm fuzzy feeling. (And mine too, full disclosure). Tonight was…the science fair.
Oh, how I love the science fair. I love the process of watching my kid’s super brain work. I love the creating of trifold display boards, and I hold myself back from wanting to lay it all out perfectly and hand over the sharpies. I love going to the school and seeing all the kids projects, seeing my friends, enjoying our community and watching my kids run amok with their friends.
In previous times, it was always just my son and I. My daughter was too young, and PC always “had to work” or some other such excuse. In fact, the year of the aforementioned abdominal surgery, I was on week 3 or 4 of recovery. I distinctly remember that I dropped my daughter at a sitter, painfully hobbled around the school gym for two hours, carried science supplies that nearly killed me, and practically died at the end of the night. Where was PC? Well, I can’t quite remember but my guess is he had to “work late” and then went out.
So anyhow, science fair. And this year, PC and I were going to exchange the kids at the science fair. No big deal right? Off we go. I’m sure divorced parents everywhere do this at baseball games, daycares, and the like. I arrived with my kids and sooner or later Trollup showed up.
Just Trollup. No PC. Of course, he was not on time. We shot the shit amongst the eyes of the people who know all of our drama, and the awkwardness is visible but okay. I can chill with Trollup. I don’t want to, but I can. But then PC showed up. He announced his arrival by coming up behind Trollup and wrapping his arm around her and whispering in her ear, or kissing her cheek…something.
Did I mention I was literally 6 inches away from Trollup? I don’t care how evolved you are, I don’t care how many strides I’ve made, and I don’t care how much I hate PC’s guts. That shit is excruciatingly awkward.
And then all the kids danced around and no matter how much I don’t want to feel like an outsider…I do. Because they form this happy little family unit (façade, I know, and so does everyone else, but still) and there is just no other way to feel but awkward. And so I pulled each kid aside, said good-bye for the weekend, and made sure Trollup knew I was leaving. PC, of course, made no eye contact and said nothing to me.
I left, and the old familiar feeling rose up. I wanted to go find someone to bitch to, to go get drunk, or both. Except I couldn’t, because I promised myself tonight would be a night of relaxation and early bed due to a busy day tomorrow. So I simpered home, poured a half ass glass of wine, and let the thoughts come.
People, I used to love the science fair. Just like I used to love going to my son’s games. Not just the activity, but the commraderie, the crowd, the social experience. Now? Its instead fraught with anxiety about seeing PC, seeing Trollup, making small talk, and meeting the eyes of everyone who is silently shaking their heads at me. The whispers of friends to me, I don’t how you can stand it. My kids running back and forth between us all. So yeah, PC. Everything’s ruined, at least when it comes to kid events that we both must attend.
The funniest fucking part? PC never gave a shit before. He never attended things unless I forced him, or he was the coach. And the sad part is he isn’t doing it now to be a good father, he’s doing it to look like a good father.
So I allow myself a few moments to wallow in this. And I remembered a conversation from over a year ago, at Thanksgiving, just days after PC gave me the boot. We were sitting around the table and one of the dogs walked in like he was the queen of sheba and just licked the birthday cake that sat on the table. My aunt, of course, immediately screeched everything’s ruined!! and looked at me and laughed.
HA! I responded. Everything really IS ruined this time!
She looked at me, and smiled in the way that only those older than you can. She put her hand on mine and held my eye. No, she said. Everything is NOT ruined.
She’s right, of course. But tonight was ruined for me, partly because of him.
But mostly because I let him.