All across this great nation of ours, Americans are celebrating Independence Day and the fireworks, parades and barbeques that happen on this day will be shared by throngs of people who are coming together for the same reason. So all this reveling, all this hoopla got me thinking: I should pick a date on the calendar and choose to annually celebrate my own independence and the day I escaped my marriage.
You see, I am terrible at remembering dates; I often forget friend’s birthdays. And unfortunately, I don’t remember the actual date my husband moved out, even though it was a red letter day and certainly should have been recorded for posterity. What I do remember, however, are the feelings; oh do I remember them. So even though I don’t remember the actual date that my ex exited the premises, I do remember the mixture of sadness and elation that rang though my head, if not throughout the land.
Finally, he was gone. The last traces of our marriage had been swept away in a flurry of boxes and sidelong glances and I was free at last. Or was I? Certainly I was free of his presence, his incessant nattering, the tears and the long hard silences. But I was not free of the nagging voice that told me I could have done better. I should have tried harder. It might have worked out. And this mind-numbing tug-of-war would most likely have held sway, had it not been for the cavalry of my good sense, which came riding to my rescue in the nick of time, winning the battle with these sensible, unemotional and reasonably rational words of wisdom: you did the best you could.
Looking back now I can see that this tentative about-face was just a case of nerves, or a dive into the chilly waters of total insanity; I’m not sure which. But the thing of which I am now sure and the thing I celebrate on a daily basis is my independence from a marriage that kept me shackled to a man who wanted to rule me absolutely but hadn’t a clue how to do so or the right even to try.
So today, while the Independence Day revelers kick up their heels in the celebration of having moved onward and upward, I will join them, and send a rocket or two of my own onto the proverbial skies of freedom as I remember that I too am free of a life that became obsolete and a man who never understood what it was to love me. I’ll march in a happy parade of one and bang the drum of elation because I never have to march to the beat of his dictates again. And I’ll cook up a storm and share the fruits of my labor with friends who will gather to celebrate with me and congratulate me on my victorious escape from peril. I will do all these things today and although it isn’t the actual date he drove away from our house for the very last time, I will pretend that it is because after all, this is Independence Day. I know this for a fact because someone had the good sense to mark it on the calendar.