By now you’re probably asking, so what the fuck happened?
I was with my husband for sixteen years, which, Jesus Christ, old. We have two kids. They’re eight and one year old. How do you get from there to the point where I’m being served with surprise divorce papers in a dark parking lot as I’m coming out of my office one evening?
Let me start at the beginning.
When I met my husband in 2003, I was writing a column called The Week in Craig for The Black Table, a website that was run and written by some of the funniest and smartest people on the planet. I’m not saying that we invented the internet as we know it, but we sure as fuck thought that’s what we were doing at the time.
Around the time that my husband and I got together, things were going pretty fucking well for me. I was working for a major publisher as an editorial assistant, which was basically a dream job for a recently graduated English major (nerd). Things were blowing up with my writing. I won a Best of New York award from The Village Voice, which was still pretty freaking cool back then. I was having meetings with just about every magazine and newspaper in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company brought me in to a meeting at HBO, which was a huge frigging deal right after Sex in the City. I got an agent, and had several publishers dangling book deals in front of me. There were lots of parties and free drinks and opportunities to feel cool and important and amazing. I mean, I got flown out to Las Vegas to attend a toga party at a nightclub. (People, they literally had a toga sent up to my hotel suite). For some reason I kept getting invited to Vivid Entertainment parties (yes, the porn company).
Which is all to say, when my husband and I got together, I was riding high. He was more than happy to be my plus-one at the porn star parties. Within a year, I moved in with him.
Eventually The Black Table outgrew itself and shut down, but I kept on writing The Week In Craig column for Animal New York. When that ended, I started doing The Week In Yelp for Eater. I got a column for Yankee Brew News. I did a few little one-off reviews and things. But what I kept telling myself was that what I really wanted to do more than anything – the thing I needed to focus on – was writing “the book.” And as the years went by, and eventually the writing jobs dried up completely, that was the lie I kept telling myself. I was writing a book. I had bits and pieces of it written. A partial outline. A concept that bounced around inside my brain. But the truth is, we moved out of the city. We had a couple of kids. I got a boring job that I was never particularly good at. And eventually I stopped writing completely.
I’m not saying this to be needlessly cruel, but for the entirety of our marriage, I honestly cannot think of a single dream my husband had beyond his daily desires. He wanted to ski more often. He wanted to eat barbecue and watch a college football game. Meanwhile I was crushed with the weight of regret for what I had let slip away, every single day. And I resented the shit out of him for this bogged down life, and I resented the shit out of him for failing to want more. He resented me for my failure to live up to what he thought I would become. And he never understood the sheer weight of abandoned dreams I carried, because he never knew what it was to dream big.
Look, this is not the thing that ended my marriage.
But one of the things that nerdy English majors do, is we spend the entirety of a marriage turning over a few lines of poetry, and maybe in this way I make sense of things. For me I am always thinking of Langston Hughes asking what happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I’ve had this fucking poem rattling around inside my brain for what feels like a lifetime, and I think now I’m only beginning to figure out what it means. For years, for an entire marriage, a dream deferred can sag like a heavy load. But here’s the thing. When it blows up, it doesn’t just explode. It erupts, and then it burns like wild fire. And it doesn’t extinguish.
Here’s a Song.
I think what I was trying to say is I’ve got dreams to remember.
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