He got the sunset in the divorce. I lost many things when that life fell apart. I lost a home, I left a lot of stuff behind, and much money was spent. And yes, I lost my love – and the future that I had been precariously building with the faulty lumber I for too long accepted. There was love there once and when it disintegrated it made an incredible mess and not everything could be salvaged. It’s a bitter pill and I have swallowed most of the damages, no matter how painful. Money is remade and no amount of it compares in value to happiness and time and freedom. Sometimes you need to invest in those intangible things in the knowledge that their returns will come in many bountiful forms. But that sunset won’t let me go.
I’ll never forget that house. Large windows that faced west over the hill country. Miles upon miles of rolling hills. The way they appeared layered from high up where we sat and how each layer shone different hues in the evening light. Or when the fog laid across them during an afternoon shower. But the best were the sunsets. High upon that hill, every night was the personal theatre of the gods. You’ve never seen such brilliantly orange light, like a great egg yolk spilled across the sky. Each night, I’d watch with marked wonder as the sun burned the sky and dyed the clouds pink. They’d mature for nearly an hour sometimes, becoming more pigmented the lower the sun fell. I couldn’t ever bring myself to look away until the sky dimmed to that ashy blue to indicate the show was over.
I still see them some, sometimes. Pink rays peering out from behind the ranks of stone apartment buildings. The occasional thunderhead partially drenched in a golden glow. And each time I think of that house. Of the remarkably unethical view it has. The drama that is unfolding from its large windows.
So he got the sunset in the divorce. But perhaps he can’t enjoy them either. Perhaps it’s not a symphony anymore, its moving parts brilliantly coming together to act out proof of magic. Perhaps it’s a mockery. A nightly replay of a life that used to fill these echoey rooms. A syndicated network that only airs this final culmination of many relationship-ending fractures. Its saturated light reaching all the crevices and empty corners of rooms that once held love. I try not to wish for that. I try not to hope that its beams now act out a tragedy that he can’t watch. I remind myself that I am lucky to have spent 6 weeks in God’s personal amphitheater. That what it gave me is mine to keep. But then I imagine him high up on that hill, and the bitterness wins.
But don’t mistake this very human reaction for a defeat. Every nerve ending, every white blood cell, every cubic centimeter of bone marrow in my body knew that this is how it would end. One final bloody scene before the curtain was drawn. And this is what I hate; the aftermath. The slow and deliberate autopsy of a departed love. The painstaking preparations to finally lay that slain behemoth to rest.
This is why I don’t bake. I hate mess. I don’t want flour on the floor, I don’t want butter smeared on countertops. I’m aware that for many this is the most fun. That they laugh at spilled icing sugar and smile through flour-caked faces. But I don’t. I take conscious steps, calculated advances, to avoid mess. And I made an absolute calamity of one. Granted, I cleaned it with the efficiency and speed of someone who takes calculated advances. But the mess making was a lashing that left me wounded and howling like a stray cat.
One day, I imagine, I will look back with fondness on how the mess was made. Looking up at him with mystic wonder under dimmed lights. The migration season of butterflies in my stomach that took many months of walking up his front door to end. Long nights over uncountable bottles of red wine. Wandering through city streets in little black dresses and intimate dinners in cozy downtown restaurants. Many many moments feeling unspeakably in love and preparing for forever with that smile. There was love there. Lots of it. And I know that’s worth making a mess over. Worth spending some money on. Worth missing out on some things for. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. But right now I’m still picking myself up out of all the debri that landed when the wind died down.