Meanwhile on the home front my wife, whilst living elsewhere had developed a habit of dropping by the house unannounced, this I found deeply disturbing, I was just trying to hold my shit together and then she would turn up out of nowhere. Whilst it was just as much her place as mine seeing her was incredibly difficult for me, she would drop in at any time day of day or night, to collect post, to get clothes from her wradbrobes, shoes from cupboards, I asked her to let me know if she was coming to the house so I could make sure that I wasn’t there, I explained I found it difficult, that not having to see her made things easier, please could she go with me on this one?
My request fell on deaf ears.
One night I was in bed, lights off and submerged under the duvet with a pair of headphones on. I had found that the only way I could get to sleep was listening to buddhist chants, and then only if I cranked the volume up extra loud. Then next thing I know the room is ablaze with light and my wife is standing over the bed.
Holy Fuck I exclaim, couldn’t you let me know you were coming?
I just needed some things, and I was passing she says.
She sits on the corner of the bed and looks at me quizzically. There’s a long pause, then she pipes up: You should get a dog she says, the company would be good for you,
I reckon she looks down at me the way you might look at an injured animal, with what feels to me like a kind of pity. For a moment I think about what she has said, it’s probably a good idea, then whilst I say nothing I reject it. I hate her suggestion & I hate her and I hate myself. A dog for company is not going to happen.
Soon afterwards I notice social media posts featuring a painting my wife has just finished, it takes pride of place at a local Exhibition. she has titled it The Kiss, and it is of her & Syd, bare torsos entwined and kissing with open mouths. People I know have commented – what a wonderful painting – how talented you are, but to me it is my shame, my failure, on display for the world to see. I loathe seeing it and wonder how my wife could not have imagined how painful it would have been for me to see it. But then that was exactly the point, my feelings did not come into it, this was her truth, her expression and that had no space for me.
I was still stuck, in a mindset where the world was off its axis, where I thought just maybe like magic things could go back to the way they were, or maybe that we could make a new start, that my wife could come back, we could be husband and wife again. But against this I could see this idea was misguided fantasy, I had to get it into my head, there was no going back, she was with Syd & I was history.
I took a pic of the painting and then printed two hundred A4 colour copies, these I taped at eye level all around the house. Up the stairs, in the hall, in the kitchen, in the sitting room in the bathroom, in my bedroom, in short wherever I looked I would see the two of them. Now this may sound un-hinged, but trust me it was anything but. I needed to take on the reality of the end of my relationship, somewhere deep down it still felt like a huge mistake, a wrong that just did not make any sense and that still on some kind of level I imagined I would wake up and find had all been some bizarre dream. Somehow I had to get over this & those colour copies just might help me get through my thick skull that I was no longer in a relationship. Also I figured that my wife might come to the conclusion that I was just a bit bat shit crazy and might make her house calls less frequent.
The over-whelming sense of needing to change continued with me, I’d been content for a while living in the family house, but now this felt like chains keeping me stuck in the past. Likewise being married, if in name only, remaining married to a woman that I was no longer in a relationship with was nuts, initially it had seemed easier to wait for the legal two years of separation, then under English law a no fault divorce was much easier to get processed by a court, but now I felt like I needed out, as soon as possible, out of a marriage that didn’t function, out of the house that was no longer a home. I wanted the divorce, told my wife, found a solicitor, started the process, my wife also found a lawyer, though she sought the services of Shoshana, a family friend. That I hadn’t expected and though Shoshana wasn’t perhaps the closest of friends nevertheless it felt like just another betrayal, that someone I had though of as a friend was representing my wife in the divorce. I felt let down once again, this time by my wife & by Shoshana, but the wheels began to turn………………….
My wife sent me a message saying that she was flat sitting around the corner for one of our friends, that she was then going away for a few weeks holiday, would I like to come for dinner?
Unable to turn her down I go, we eat and then have sex on the sofa. Throughout I can smell the scent of Syd, on her, inside her, and to my eternal damnation I don’t care.
I leave the flat in the early hours, tracing my way back home though empty trafficless streets. But as I go I know deep down inside that I would do anything to rekindle a relationship with my wife, demean myself in any way necessary, or if I believed in a heaven and a hell sell my soul to the Devil to get her back. As my footsteps echo on the pavement I also know that the pain and the depression and the despair I’ve felt has to be for something, all of this had to be for a reason and I had to be worth more. And for the first time despite the emptiness I felt without her I began to see thet I needed a life in which she played no part.
An offer was made on the house, and the terribly slow process of contracts and exchanges begins, meanwhile the lawyers do their bit on the divorce. This turned out to mean that half of the house sale value was to go to my wife & half to me, when it came to our debts, for reasons that I never quite understood these were all to be my responsibility. Also the legal costs of the divorce, I was expected to pay both hers and mine. As she was the one that effectively ended the marriage why I had to pay for all of the divorce costs escaped me, but there you go. The last question I had for my lawyer was about my wife’s paintings, I had for the most part of the marriage been the bread winner, this I felt was a way of being able to free up my wife time to paint, her passion and something that she was really rather talented at. Were the Canvasses she had produced during the marriage something to be shared? I would have liked to have some of them?
The answer from my lawyer was no.
So in essence I said to the lawyer what’s mine is half hers, what we owe in debts together is in fact all mine and what’s hers is all hers? Precisely says my lawyer that’s it.
The house sale finally goes through, a young family have bought it, the thought of my old home having fresh new life and re-inventing itself over again makes me happy.
Clearing the house contents is a major exercise, how could one family accumulate such a lot of junk? The attic is full of memories, I find a pair of baby shoes from my son, my wife’s old wedding dress, hundreds of books, old toys, old clothes, you name it it’s there. So many of those articles are history, moments in time. My wife arrives to help with the clear out, what about photos she asks, holding an album of old wedding photos. Do you want any of these?
I laugh, You have to be joking, no I don’t want any of them.
Of course I don’t tell her that I’ve already been through the albums, that I have a few pictures from our wedding and that I’ve put them in an envelope and sealed it, one day far from here maybe I would open that envelope and let them see the light of day again.
Within two days of completion I am on a plane to India, unsure of what is to come, but determined to carve out a new life and to begin it far away from London and everyone I know.