Sunday, October 24, 2010

a gun shot or a starter pistol?

I don't know why I even focused of the sound of the gavel. But oh, how that became the center of my thoughts. I obsessed over how my marriage, which started with a kiss, in a church full of people we loved, and who loved us, would end in a room full of strangers, with that bang of the gavel. I fixated on how it would sound like a gun shot, the shot behind the barn that would finally put the tired horse that the divorce had become to rest. The sound of ice cracking on an unsafe pond, and down I would go, submerged in icy terror, sure I would not survive. The sound of a shock, a rip in the air, death.

I was terrified of that noise. I thought about it all the time. How its sharp staccato would rip a hole in what was left of my heart. Finally tear in two the what was not totally broken. Not. just. yet. I was just sure it would echo in my head for years.

Except, someone asked me a tilting question. A woman I have never actually met and I can't even say for certain that I know her real name. She is a "friend" from an internet game I play, not even someone I really know, but all it took was one question from her to change the entire game.

What if it's not the sound of a fatal shot? What if you hear it as the sound of a rocket launching, fireworks going off, or...a starter pistol?

And that was it. Suddenly that sound I dreaded became open with possibilities. Could it be that I had the power to decide how that sound would, well, sound? The idea that I can have power over ANYTHING is still one I am getting used to. For 20 years I thought of him first, to the point where I could not even figure out if I was hungry, thirsty or tired, unless I thought of how he would feel about first. But maybe it's on me now. Maybe I could decide it was a starter pistol, and I could set the pace I run at. Wow.

I grow almost giddy with the opportunity, and more than a little overwhelmed at the responsibility. I DON'T WANT to be in charge, I whine. Oh feminist me, I must admit - I liked not having to worry about the 401k, the trash going out, the tax return. I thought that is how it went - you divided things up according to your skill sets. He did dead things in the yard and retirement savings, I did funerals and school visits (ofter indistinguishable, btw...). But if this is all up to my to decide - quelle horreur! What if I choose poorly? I am not always so sure which is the cup of a carpenter (and if you get THAT reference, congrats - we are now best friends, you and I....word!). And it won't be Elsa screaming whilst I turn into dust, it will be the children, my family, the other members of the coven. Didn't I see it coming? Everyone else knows, what's your problem? Suddenly I am 14 again, and hopelessly hopeless and just WRONG. No one to turf in onto, it's all my fault. I chose, I must deal with the consequences.

Interesting to note that in the movie in my head I am only ever wrong. Can't say I have spent a lot of time mulling over scenarios in which I get lots of things right and people admire "how well I have done." That one? Ummm.. ....feh. Not so much.

Of course the biggest joke of all is that in the end, no gavel. A simple nod, as the judge recited the line I am sure she has had to say too many times- She pronounced our marriage dissolved and that was it. No bang. No gunshot. No starting gun. I remember I watched the clock. Time of death: exactly 10:30 am.

But I have decided it was my starter pistol. If we accept that I have the power to decide what it was, I should also have the power to decide if it was. And I say it was so. A starter pistol announcing the start of my new life. The one where I decide what the sounds are.

....and she's off!

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