Last night took a detour. I was excited and filled with Anticipation. It started when the kids were picked up by the ex. He kicked me to the curb, down the gutter, and for months I couldn’t even get out of the manhole. He seemed shocked in saying I looked good. I wasn’t expecting the shock or the rage that seemed to fuel it. He wanted to talk child care and I told him to go ahead and use his girlfriend. The agreement we drafted was made pointless by the loophole he immediately saw, and I decided to stop fighting it when I decided I wanted a divorce. I’ve told him to divorce me several times, but I decided to do it myself mid-February. I let him know in February. Last night he asked why we have to go back to court and I reminded him about the divorce that is coming. He asked if I was divorcing him because of my new man. I told him it was none of his business.
I went to visit my childhood friend that we named our firstborn after at his job and he showed me the rooftop. The sun was starting to set, and it fell between two buildings. It’s right in front of the Deloitte building which has always been my favorite because of the football shape on top of the building. When I find hilltops in my neighborhood to look at the Downtown Los Angeles skyline, I always look for that building. The sky slide on the US Bank building was on the side we couldn’t see, and I could see the Library but know it’s much more beautiful inside, and I’m due to visit the fountains in the courtyard because it’s been too long. I can’t remember the names of all the other buildings he pointed out. He took pictures of me because I looked like I cared and that is a good look on me.
As I headed out, my date night became a date myself night. I started heading home, but ended up taking the streets to Santa Monica. I had a pair of jeans and my Uggs in the car, so I threw them on under my dress in the parking lot as teenaged girls were flirting with the Bubba Gump staff enjoying their breaks. Walking up the stairs on the north entrance to the pier, I got a face full of strawberry e-smoke and an apology. I told him I was fine. When I smoked it smelled like tobacco, and not like fruit. He told me the e-cigarettes helped him quit smoking and I told him I quit cold turkey but it didn’t make me a nice person. He told me that took a lot of mental strength and his observation made me smile as I hit the pier.
I thought I’d dine at Maria Sol and rewrite an old memory with someone else. They were closing and I ended up wandering around the pier. As I was walking, a vendor stopped me to ask where I’m from. I’m a native Californian, but he couldn’t imagine me being from Santa Monica, because he would have remembered me. He takes pictures of people in front of the lit up Ferris Wheel and sets them one of top of the other for a holographic dual picture effect. He offered to take a gratis picture of me to make me smile. It did make me smile and I thanked him and admitted I was having a rough night at that point. Years of being gaslighted made me start to believe I was divorcing my husband so I could date and that it had nothing to do with the times he told me he was done, or the many times he cursed me out at the top of his lungs or by text, or the time his girlfriend texted me from his phone to tell me I was a horrible mother, and physically unattractive. He was negating his responsibility for the other times my arguments with him became her fight to battle. I think the photographer’s name was Martin, but he offered me coffee or tea, and told me I was beautiful. He asked me about my day and gave me words of encouragement. He handed me a free picture without a hologram and asked me to visit again sometime.
I walked away feeling better because it had been a few months since a stranger handed me something free just for the opportunity to see me smile. Then it occurred to me that most people never have that happen to them and for me it has happened a few times a year for much of my adult life. I truly live a charmed life when I remember to look past the drama. I walked the shoreline and passed couples in the icy water, or huddled on the sand. There was a beachcomber with a metal detector and sand trap, sifting for the day’s lost treasures. The sound of the crashing waves is energizing and it just makes me happy.
Walking the pier, there were several men that looked at me and smiled once I acknowledged their looks. I was being friendly but I wasn’t feeling like a shameless cougar. There were two men old enough to be my grandfather. Some were young and in groups. One was female. Two were chasing kids or holding hands with someone else. Then there were the handful that were purposely avoiding any glance in my direction. They made me laugh. Earlier in the evening I had joked with my friend about finding a self car wash near a high school in my dress to boost my mood, but that is really disgusting and something I totally would have done in my early 20’s.
I left and took the streets home again. Driving past Hollywood High School I remembered the junior high graduation I was late to. Our auditorium was too small so we borrowed theirs. I barely made it in time step into the moving procession and make it to my seat on stage with the rest of the graduating Leadership class. Years later I was sitting on those steps as an ex boarded all over them, grinding the rails. I don’t know if he wanted me to watch him, or if he didn’t care that I was bored. He skated and I lit up one cigarette off of the butt of the last one. It might have been both. I realized I shouldn’t skip dinner even if I wasn’t hungry, so I stopped at the Denny’s near Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles were I had my very first set up date. It was my 10th birthday and my sisters took me out with one of their friends and his kid brother. I sat and tried to rewire the thoughts running through my mind.
I can’t be the whore I felt like for divorcing the ex. You can’t blame a divorce on a person that doesn’t exist. I reminded myself that I waited. I waited over 10 months after he threw his wedding band in a parking lot to take mine off. It’s been over a year and it’s okay to decide I am done. As I was leaving the restaurant, the security guard asked where I am from. That’s a common question because I look uncommon. I’m mixed. I don’t fit the standard categories. He called me beautiful too. I thanked him and told him I was having a rough night and it definitely made a difference. I believe taking a chance that a compliment wouldn’t bring out my crazy should be rewarded with gratitude. He said I had a glow about me and he couldn’t see how I could be having a rough day. I get that a lot. I had just eaten a Denny’s pot roast, with tepid and not hot tea because I forgot I prefer IHOP’s pot roast and I had a waitress doubling as the hostess. I didn’t send it back because I was trying to focus on not feeling like a whore for reclaiming my future from a dead past. I smiled on my way home and this morning emailed a friend about my cover up tattoo. I’m ready to look at designs and ideas.