Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
Plan, pack, move, repeat. Plan, pack, move, repeat. Plan, pack, move, repeat. It’s December of 2014, and I’m sitting in a small apartment with white painted brick walls, asking myself how I got here. I channel my inner Martha Stewart to give the place some character because I know this is the beginning of a six month stay. To start, I examine that long white wall and decide it’s the ideal place to display my WiFi password, for all the world to see. I dive into a bottle of Grey Goose, get online, and order an 18-foot long bright gold decal of exactly that. When it arrives, I anxiously open the package to reveal a monstrosity of numbers and letters. I am overwhelmed with my own cleverness and slowly start to apply it to the wall, making sure each symbol is pressed to perfection. My mind is racing with pride, and I feel as profound as those street artists like Banksy. I reach the end of the strip, only to find that I ordered a “7” instead of a “2.” I throw myself to the ground in a dramatic fury and pitch a temper tantrum that would rival my 6-year-old’s. I can’t get anything right anymore, and this is a tangible reminder staring me right in the face. In bright gold.
Before I reached that point of absurdity, my ex-husband and I had a discussion when we were separated but still living in the same house. We both realized we weren’t able to live with each other anymore, and had to be proactive about it. We had always been very copacetic, but toxicity was growing and becoming more evident. We decided to try something called “nesting,” which meant that we rented an apartment and split the time there. One of us was always with our son at our home, which is an oversized suburban McMansion. The other was alone across town – in a sad, small space with a fu*ked up WiFi password on the wall. We would do the switch twice a week. I typically took Friday to Tuesday at the apartment, and he did vice versa. It was an exercise in patience beyond all measure. People describe their world as being “upside-down” when they start the divorce process, but my world was in a food processor.
Since the nesting began in the winter months, it exponentially increased the depression factor. Time would be at a standstill on those long weekends, as I was technically still unemployed and didn’t have anything to do besides Netflix and chill. I know – poor me, right? Sounds terrible. Keep in mind, this wasn’t the life I signed up for. This wasn’t the life that I invested 17 years in. Prior to this, I was with my son every day of his life. But this was now my life – resulting from a detour into a place called reality. My ex and I both knew that it would be very challenging for us, however it was ideal for our son.
It didn’t take long for me to feel the need for a private suitcase that I could keep on me at all points in time. This suitcase contained everything intimate that I was formerly comfortable keeping around my ex, but now wanted to keep to myself. I am admittedly an adventurous guy, but this is not an Us Weekly ”What’s In My Bag?” article, so you can use your imagination about its contents. I will tell you that I referred to it as the “Suitcase of Wrong,” because like everything else in my life, I turned something painful into a joke. Oddly enough, the suitcase became a metaphor for my life. It was a traveling object with a hard exterior, but had secrets and shame on the inside – exactly like myself.
Over and over we repeated that insane cycle. I lugged the Suitcase of Wrong through the rain, mud, and snow. It was a constant reminder that my marriage was failing and that I was beginning a new chapter in my life. It also became heavier, almost bursting at its seams at one point. I was desperate to have a space to call my own. When the nesting period ceased, I moved into my own house for the first time in my life. The first thing I unpacked was that suitcase. It was extremely cathartic to find permanent places for my most personal of items. Now the suitcase sits empty in the back of my closet. My hope is that the next time I use it, it will be on a fabulous vacation – with my son or even some lucky new boyfriend. I will be able to fill it with pride now, and carry it with a smile on my face. It will have gone through its own transition, to the “Suitcase of Right.”