A 5lb Bag of Potatoes


I have friends that have been married a long time with varying degrees of happiness and have grown into what I call a "comfortable stasis." In other words, she's allowed to wear a stained pajama top with frayed sleeves around the house in the middle of the day because he gave up on his pot belly a long time ago and stopped caring how it looked under an oversized superhero T-shirt.
I get it. I was married once. I started to wear big girl undies and practical bras about a year in.
I now know why people cling to bad marriages. Like me, they get attached to that iron-on designer label of inclusiveness. That thin gold band on the right-hand ring finger that declares, "I belong." You are part of a "thing. You are lovable and, though this may not be accurate, we all know the emperor has no clothes and that "seems to be" can often trump "how it really is."
Marriage can be a false qualifier but sometimes I miss the label.
That's because single doesn't carry the same prestige. It's a throwaway word. Doesn't belong to anything. One plus zero equals one. No my husband or my wife. Just my-self. Divorced is a tad more acceptable because it implies you were loved - once.
It took a while, but I realize now that comfort eclipses happiness almost every time. It's nice to know someone will be there when you slip in the bathtub and break your hip but is that enough to stay in a marriage in need of a wrecking ball?
My former in-laws seemed comfortable but I'm not sure they were happy. They only vacationed once; a weekend in Bar Harbor they won by entering a mail-in contest advertised on the side of a 5-pound bag of Maine potatoes.
They did like to visit the mall though. At 7AM every morning, before the stores opened, they'd walk from one end of the mall to the other ten times and go home. 
One day, not too long ago, I was walking down a suburban sidewalk with my former husband. Our pace was quick. Like his parents at the mall, we were going nowhere fast except we were heading to a nowhere I didn't want to go. I turned and bolted. 
Two days later he asked for a divorce. I let him think he was the decider. He didn't know I'd already exited the mall. There was nothing there I wanted. 

A Hollow Leg

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He was prepared for our date and I loved him for it.
We sat at the bar and he pulled out a list of questions. Fun questions like, "who would you rather be? Bert or Ernie?"
“Ernie, of course!”
He knew I loved games and we'd just met. 
He said he had a wooden leg - just so you know - while what he meant was a hollow leg and we laughed at that even though he did - have a hollow leg.
We sang television theme songs from our youth and corrected each other when we got the lyrics wrong and I nursed my wine while he drank his drinks and drank another and, just one more, and we got punch drunk for different reasons and I was happy and he was happy. Too happy. Close to out of control happy.
And, we left and we kissed and I never saw him again.