So I braille through the FB search thingee and find out an old friend’s address and phone number and I call him and he answers and I say, yo, voices from the past, old son, three guesses who it is and he can’t so I give my name and he shrieks with joy (well, not shriek but a bit of a yelp) and we strike up this verbal bridge over years gone by and then I say, how is Neerja?
And there is this treacly silence, like half dried superglue and he says, she has gone.
Not quite up in the tact department I say, gone where?
Split, he says, using the current infinitive (hah, ha, clever, clever).
I am not too hot on savvy either so I say, split where, which, in retrospect, is probably more than tactless but I am still groping for a grip on things.
He says, over, kaput, we ran out of steam.
A marriage compared to a leaking pressure cooker, says a lot of thirty years of togetherness.
I say, oh, that being about par for expression under the circumstances.
He says, these things happen, it was better to part than run on empty, the marriage wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry, but we did part good friends, what about you?
I say, we are still together, and make it sound almost like an apology, as if it was bad taste to stay wedded when everyone about you was falling apart.
For some reason the words of that ABBA song ‘I never promised you a rose garden’ keep echoing in my mind, you know how it goes, ‘I beg your pardon.’
Guess that is it, marriages die because we don’t beg enough pardon. We just don’t try hard enough. From day one, it is rather like mountain climbing. The scenery is breathtaking, the atmosphere is crisp and stimulating, but if you don’t pace yourself you run out of breath. The trick is to remember it is all uphill and you have to work at it, every little step of the way.
It is far easier to pass the blame when you are breathless onto some other clever little brittle technical conceit. Couldn’t make the grade. Ran out of steam. Found we were different people. Went our own ways. Discovered our real selves. Wanted something more. Something was missing Drifted. Better to split than play let’s pretend, the marriage was a sham. We lost our way. Mistake, we weren’t to made for each other type.
The verbal debris of weak stamina and no gravel in the gut to keep at it and suck sustenance from the good times.
We are that much more ungiving, we take the easy way out, we drop years like they were hairpins, even children no longer count. And then, when it is over we get all civil and say, but we parted good friends.
What a load of crock. How can you part good friends when you have scarred each other and played chess with your egos as prizes and your kids as pawns.
I wanted to tell him that but what’s the use, he is enjoying his sense of martyrdom, actually feels an achievement in his marital defeat, a sort of stoicalness, like we did our best, all the right stuff but it didn’t work, now must take it on the chin and walk with it.
It would never even cross his mind that all that lay between breaking up and staying together was perhaps a little care, a little space and a little acceptance of each other’s flaws. That, and the protection of an investment in time and emotion.