I received the text just months shy of our tenth anniversary. The divorce process being what it is, the marriage persisted after the ten year mark. The wedding was never the year we marked, however. We always added six to go back to when we started dating. So, by the time it was over, we had been together for sixteen years. That was half of my life.
It felt like my life odometer had been abruptly and violently forced back to 000000. It was painful, but it was also frustrating. It felt like those were miles wasted on a pointless journey that was aborted before its intended destination. The consistent rolling of the numbers indicating the length of the relationship felt purposeful. They spoke to where we had been and where we were going to go.
When my boyfriend and I reached the six month mark (an important period that frequently delineates casual dating from more serious partnerships), he commented on how long we had been together. I remember scoffing internally. Six months was nothing. I had been with my ex thirty two times that! I didn’t get it yet.
Then, one year came, again commented upon by my boyfriend. I still didn’t get it. I can be a slow learner at times.
It wasn’t until two years when I finally understood. First, due to the magic of ratios, it was now only 1/8 of the time that I spent with my ex. But, more importantly, I viewed my entire life odometer differently. I had been viewing it as the primary and permanent wheel in the center of my console, quietly ticking away through the journeys of my life. I saw the divorce as an assault on the dial, overriding the system.
Then I realized that life is rarely that linear. Our lives are perhaps better marked with trip odometers that are reset to mark the beginning of a new journey. These parallel journeys should not be quantified; the distance is not what adds to the quality. Rather, each trip should be accepted for what it is with the understanding that the odometer can be reset if needed.
I now don’t worry about sixteen years. I don’t compare times together, creating ever-improving ratios. Now, I just roll down the windows and enjoy the ride 🙂