Friday, September 28, 2012


Third grade, recess, the playground... Dodgeball.

One by one, the kids get picked to be on Steven's team or Michael's team. One by one, they get a red flag or a yellow flag, showing that they are part of something big, something special. One by one, I hear everyone's name get called until they are all on the field. Every kid but me.

I am last to be chosen. Again and again, I wait and watch, hoping, praying, begging for someone to pick me. Maybe this time, Justin or Roger or Randall will be a team captain and they'll choose me to be on their team. Somehow, some way, I have to get on the red team, or the yellow team, I don't care which team but please God somebody pick me!!!

I happen to know that Stevie and Michael (or at least their wives) are reading this blog and I'll start by saying "I forgive you." But please know that in second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, I hated you. You never chose me first for dodgeball or kickball or flag football. In fact, you never chose me at all. You got stuck with me as a last resort player, waiting it out to see who'd have to pick me versus who got the kid who picked his nose with his undershirt (and ate it!) during the game. Y'all know who I'm talking about, and I'm really insulted I got grouped in like that.

Point being, I could've been a great player. I would've been awesome, given the chance. But all anyone saw was a nerdy girl who always had her face in a book and no dirt on her shoes. Sure, kids flocked to me during the spelling bee or when they needed homework help. But dodgeball? I might as well have been taking a nap.

Becoming a mother feels a lot like being back in elementary school. I'm waiting to get picked for the marriage & motherhood team, hoping and praying that someone will call my name. Sure, I have my preference of who I'd like to play with, but at this point, it's starting not to matter. I watch my friends get called up, one by one, and all I want is to be on the field with them. I don't care if I get chosen first or third or thirty-third, I just want to get in the damn game.

People say "it happens when you least expect it" or "you can't hurry love, you just have to wait." What no one admits is that they're terrified the game is being played without them and they could be left sitting on the sidelines, waving the team flag. Think about your girlfriends. Who is single and wants to be dating? Who is dating and wants to be married? Who is married and wants children? These girls are just like me, playing dodgeball with their lives, just waiting to hear their name, waiting to rush the field.

I'm starting to wonder how I can start my own team. Perhaps, with this blog, I'm doing just that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Falling From Grace

There is nothing funny about divorce.

Alright, that's probably not true... But dating is hilarious and it's fairly easy to write about. Divorce is hard and sad and finding the humor is pretty tricky. I know I've been writing about dating throughout this blog, and all the ridiculous adventures I've been on, which you all love to hear about. But I'd be remiss if I glanced over the part where I'm single at 31 because my marriage did not work out.

Several readers have asked me how this project got started, why am I different from any other girl trying to find love in the big city. The truth is, I might not be that different which is exactly why I'm so relatable. Sadly, there are a million other girls like me all over this country. Girls who thought they'd met their match, found their prince, and were living their happily ever after. Only years later (in some cases - months later) to discover that this life, this marriage, this husband was not at all who or what they thought they'd signed up for. Maybe he was an alcoholic / workaholic / cheater / loser / insert awful adjective of your choice here. Maybe he was all of the above. Maybe he was none of the above and you just grew apart, life happened. Maybe he changed his mind about wanting children and you found yourself ten years after you thought you'd be a mother, writing a blog about how you're not a mother.

No? Just me then.

I'd also be remiss if I did not add on to yesterday's blog that I did, in fact, join a sorority in college. After not getting accepted into the three national sororities at my school, there was a local chapter that welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. My sisters are still some of my closest friends despite years and miles between us. My big sister, the girl who truly adopted me, is getting married in December and I'm thrilled and honored to attend her wedding. We've all moved on, some have moved away, but there is an unbreakable bond between us that we will share forever. A decade and a half ago, I made a promise to strengthen and uphold our sisterhood. Kinship, love, and pride. It's not just a slogan, it's a way of life. It's letting those other girls know that I have their backs. Always have, always will.

How does this relate to motherhood? Because I know what it's like on the other side. I know that there's a big, wide world of women waiting to welcome me once I have a baby of my own...and not a moment before. There are stages of friendship, no matter how close you are to another woman, no matter how long you've known her. When one of you gets married, it changes things. When one of you has a baby, it changes things. She develops new relationships with other mommies out there, because she's going through things you can't possibly relate to, and frankly, might not want to hear about. All she can talk about is nap schedules and feeding times and poopie diapers. Is she really going to confess her breastfeeding tales to a girl who was out at a club last night? Not likely. There is an unspoken boundary between mommies and non-mommies that just doesn't get crossed. It's not that they don't want to tell you about their new life. It's just that "you wouldn't understand."

Those are my least favorite words in the English language. "You wouldn't understand. You're not a mom." Well, someday, I might be, and then maybe I'll get it. Whatever these women are talking about, I WANT IN! I want to know what it's like. I want to be a part of it. In the military, they recognize men by rank: Private, Captain, Major. Women recognize each other by title: Single, Wife, Mother. There is always something to aspire to.

Some of you have no clue what I'm talking about. You think I'm bitter and jaded and jealous. I'm not. Those of you who are still waiting for to meet your husbands, or for your husbands to be ready to have kids know what I mean. I do not begrudge anyone their happiness, as one reader commented yesterday. I simply want my own happiness and I've been waiting my whole life to find it in marriage and motherhood.

Why tell you all of this now? Well to start with, I couldn't talk about it before. It was easier to tell you funny dating story after funny dating story because there were no consequences there. Going out with a guy who cracks open his Darth Vader piggy bank is hysterical, but I'm hoping that hasn't happened to anyone else! How many of you can tell me you ended up on a date with a man who threw up and still tried to kiss you? Or put you on the phone with his mother? Or burst into tears when you told him you didn't get butterflies on the date? Or picked his nose and then wanted to hold your hand? Or was a one-armed Cuban prison guard?

I sincerely hope that NONE of those things apply to you! But chances are you (or your mother, or your sister, or your friend) is divorced. Maybe she's divorced and dating. Maybe she has kids, maybe she doesn't. Maybe she's turning 30, or even 40, wondering why and how she is supposed to start all over. Maybe she's scared to death and just knowing that someone else has been through the same things is helpful. I know that not every girl is willing to put her Dear Diary online for the whole world to read. But I am. You don't have to like it. You don't have to agree with it. I'm not writing for anyone else these days. I'm writing for me, because I know that if I'm going through this, someone else is too. If I've made just that one girl feel better, made her laugh, talked her through her tears, then it's all been worth it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Motherhood...and Other Sororities I Didn't Get Into

If we were going to party like it was 1999, we'd have to start with Sorority Rush Week.

My college had four sororities on campus, three national and one local. I didn't know the difference at the time, but it became blatantly obvious the minute I started Rush Week.

The first group didn't like what I was wearing (little white sundress with blue flowers on it) and they made fun of me while I was still in the room. The second group asked what my dad did, if my mom worked, how much money we had, what my future career plans were. I clearly didn't meet their high monetary standards, and couldn't have afforded the dues if I wanted to. The third group didn't like that I was so involved with other organizations around the school. Theatre, student programming council, student government, Habitat for Humanity, Take Back the Night, and a whole slew of others. They also didn't like that I had a steady boyfriend for over a year. If I was going to party with them, I needed to be single and dedicate myself entirely to sorority happenings and not other clubs. 

This feeling was all too familiar. I'd been a cheerleader for years, but when I switched to a different high school, I didn't make the team. I tried out for kickline instead, and after several grueling weeks of splits and kicks and learning routines, I was rejected from that squad too. I got heavily involved with theatre, but I wasn't selected for the Repertory Company or the Select Choir. My heart was broken a million times over for all the lofty dreams I'd set my sights on, never to reach them. 

Funny how those memories creep up on you, a decade and a half later. Watching the cheerleaders on game day walking down the hall in their bright green pleated skirts, bouncing ponytails and sparkly eyeshadow elicits the same reaction as seeing them all these years later with their baby carriages and husbands in tow. This new sorority for a different age taunts me with all the things I'll never have, all the places I'll never go, all the secret handshakes I'll never be privy to. Those same friends who flaunted their shiny black and white saddle shoes now rub their smug motherhood in my face while I pine for my younger, more fertile days. How I wish to join their ranks, pledge that oath, drink the toxic elixir. What I'd give to ponder Baby Bjorn versus Ergo carriers, pushing my pram through Central Park, making my own organic baby food. How many times do they meet up at Gymboree or the playground, toting their little angels along with a cappuccino and a croissant, idling away the hours of innocent childhood and friendships forged. 

I do not know the password to get into this party. I do not have a key to this club. I do know that I applied for membership for years on end, and every month the form would come back to me with a huge red sign saying REJECTED. I am not a mother now, nor do I know if or when I ever will be. 

One by one, I watch my friends learn the secret handshake, drink the Kool-Aid, don the uniform, and join the sorority of Motherhood. Maybe I am wearing the wrong outfit. Maybe I don't have enough money. Maybe I don't know the right people. Maybe I didn't sell enough cookies, earn enough patches, memorize the motto. Maybe I didn't jump high enough, tumble fast enough, yell loud enough. Maybe there just aren't any spots left for a new girl to join. But maybe, just maybe, I'll try again next semester. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Keep Paddling

I would like to punch September 21st in the face.

Every year, without fail, September 21st shows up on my calendar. And every year, it is all I can do to survive the damn day. I thought about getting on a plane and heading west at the start of the day. I figured if I went far enough, I'd leave New York on the 20th and get back on the 22nd, missing the day entirely. Since that's not the most practical idea I've ever had, I considered hibernating under the covers for 24 hours and coming out when it's over. Short of that, I am trying to honor the past while not living in it, and looking towards my future with hope.

Yes, the future is uncertain and yes, the past is daunting, and yes at times the present sucks. But our time is what we make of it. I'm allowing myself to indulge in this little pity party for about five more minutes before I kick my own ass and move on with my life. It's a lot harder than it sounds. I should know - I've been trying to manage it for years. I'm sure I've made a bigger deal of today in my head than it really is, but when you're the attached, invested, emotional person I am, you can't help but take everything to heart. I can't stop myself from imagining what today would have been in an alternate universe. Surely, the world I'm living in now is far more surreal than anything that could've been hiding behind Door #2.

September 21, 2001: I met John.
September 21, 2002: We moved in together in London.
September 21, 2003: We got married.
September 21, 2004: We got our own house in the English home counties.
September 21, 2005: We moved back to New York.
September 21, 2006: We realized we were struggling as a couple and took a vacation.
September 21, 2007: We talked about a "trial separation."
September 21, 2008: He served me with divorce papers.
September 21, 2009: Our divorce was finalized.
September 21, 2010: I wrote a blog wondering where my life was going.
September 21, 2011: I wrote a blog, thinking I knew exactly where my life was going.
Dancing in the Rain
September 21, 2012: He and his new wife are expecting a baby. Today.

The world works in weird ways. Sure, we planned to get married on the anniversary of the day we met, but we sure as shit didn't plan to get divorced that day too. He's also not the malicious sort of man to serve me with those papers on our anniversary. I'm positive it was just when the process server got around to delivering them. (He tried again the day before Christmas, and ON Valentine's Day.) I also fully believed that my life had changed for the better last year, that I was finally on my way to breaking through the chains of the past that had held me back for so long. I was moving on in life and even more so, in love. I had a brand new relationship that I admit, I was kind of counting on to work out. When it didn't (a mere 48 hours later), my whole world crumbled again. Add that to John getting re-married within two weeks and you can picture the bottom-of-the-barrel self confidence I suddenly possessed.

What if we'd never gotten divorced? What if we'd tried harder? Paid more attention to our marriage and each other? Spent more time talking and listening and loving and less time working and fighting and playing video games? What if we'd made our relationship the priority instead of shuffling it in with all the other daily grind bull shit? What if we'd really, truly sat down and dealt with each other and the issues we faced, instead of sweeping them under the proverbial rug? The world may never know.

What the world does know is that John came home one night, after a long day at work and a long night at the bar, and confessed he no longer wanted children. We'd struggled with a lot of things before this came up, some little stuff, some big stuff, but none of it was a deal breaker. Not having kids was a definite deal breaker, and he knew me well enough to know that. We had baby names picked out. We'd talked about having children together for as long as I could remember. The very first night we spent together, I recall with perfect clarity his arms around me, whispering in the dark, "I can see our children in your eyes." Picture that in a British accent and tell me you wouldn't have fallen in love with him too? But there was that same accent, more than half a decade later, ripping away from me the very dream he'd planted in my heart, in my mind, in my life. He was taking the possibility of a family off the table and no matter what else we'd endured together, we would never be the same again.

And now, three years after the fact, his new wife is about to pop out a bouncing baby boy, on what would have been his nine year wedding anniversary with me. As Alanis Morissette would say, "Isn't it ironic?"

I sit in Starbucks now, same hazelnut chai latte I've been drinking throughout this blog, torturing myself by sneaking peeks at his wife's website. I know it's a mean thing to do, but I cannot resist the sadistic temptation to find out if she's in labor yet. Wondering if he will forever have to live with our wedding anniversary as his child's birthday. Desperate to know if he ever thinks about that 2 a.m. conversation in our kitchen, next to the Wedgewood plates he bought me for my birthday, half a bottle of white wine unfinished on the counter, dinner dishes still in the sink, the smell of lemons and lilies heavy in the air, the last night we would ever spend in bed together. The last time we'd ever see each other outside of a court room. The five minutes it took him to cancel out our relationship, undoing everything we'd worked for across two continents and six years. Will this date, forever etched into the fabric of my mind, stick with him as it has with me?

Some people say it's the worst thing you can do, remembering an anniversary that is better off forgotten. It's not because I miss my ex-husband. It's not even because I miss my marriage. It's because for those few years, I thought that I was the happiest I would ever be. I thought I knew what my life was about, and who I was sharing it with. Now that everything is a mystery waiting to be unraveled, the only thing I can be sure of is who I'm NOT anymore. I'm not his wife. That was a huge part of who I was. I found comfort in my identity there. Now I'm left re-inventing myself. I can be anyone or anything I want to be. I can see myself not just for who I was, or even who I am: I can look forward to who I want to be. I get to decide that. Not my ex-husband. Not anybody else. John, our marriage, our friends, our families, our wedding, our life together will always be a part of who I am. He shaped me in so many ways, whether he knew it or not. And tomorrow, when September 21st is over, he may wake up and be both a husband and a new father. But I get to be something even better. I get to go on being ME.

My mom gave me a card today. It's a cat in a rowboat that has sprung a leak. (The boat, not the cat.) The card reads: Some days, you just have to keep paddling.

Dedicated to all the amazing women in my life who have gotten divorced and not only survived, but thrived! You are more loved than I can express. And for you women who are going through it now: you are stronger than you give yourself credit for, and I promise - it gets easier. Never be afraid of your feelings, and let your girlfriends get you through it. Remember: Boyfriends (husbands) come and go but girlfriends are forever. Keep paddling!