Echoes in an Empty Hallway

I have been away for a very, very long time.

I don’t think I’m really back yet, either. But I thought I’d poke my head in and say hello, drag my finger through some dust.

The funny thing is that I actually found myself wondering why I disappeared, and it wasn’t until I stared at the date of my last entry that I finally noticed what should have been obvious from the start: my last entry was one week before my wife and I decided to separate.

As far as separations go, it was about the best one anybody could hope for—mutual, amicable, drama-free. We decided to end a twenty-year-long romantic relationship before we lost the friendship, too. And it worked: over a year and a half later, we’re still good friends, and we are excellent co-parents, and we help each other out all the time.

But the thing is, you can’t spend over half your life with someone and then walk away without tearing something, no matter how slowly and carefully you pull. My everyday life changed in drastic and profound ways. Even after all the intervening time, I’m still not used to it; every time I think I’ve got my sea legs, suddenly I discover that there’s no ocean beneath me.

On balance, though, I have no doubt that we made the right decision. We are both very different people in our 40s than we were when we fell in love as teenagers. And despite the difficulties inherent in tearing a life down to its foundations and rebuilding, the alternative of watching those lives wilt and die by grey inches seems like a terrible option.

Anecdotal evidence: a couple of weeks ago I got pulled over for doing 88 in a 75 (whoops—I swear, it’s because it was a rental car) and the friendly Arizona trooper who stopped me was kind enough to let me off with a written warning. When I looked at that warning later, and saw the information copied down from my driver’s license, I noticed that my weight as noted was off. Way off. Turns out I’ve lost over twenty pounds in the three years since I got that license renewed.

I guarantee that I dropped most of that weight since the separation, without even trying. I’m just happier now. I’m no longer trying to fill any metaphorical voids with all-too-real food.

So, yeah. Starting over at 40 has not been the easiest thing to do, and I suppose that’s why I’ve been absent. But it’s been a net positive for all of us (yes, even the kiddo), and I’m finally starting to get back to business. I’ve written some poems since last I checked in, and a bunch were published, so I’ve tried to get all that content up to date on this site—check [a small dead tree] for publications and [a lyre, I suppose] for the poems themselves, if you’re interested.

I may not be all the way back yet. But at least I’m waving while passing through.