Friday 22 November 2013

Lipstick and Courthouses

I went and got divorced yesterday. I didn’t expect to be sad, but I was. The seed of grief was planted when we first headed to the courthouse two months ago, to file the initial request for divorce proceedings; we went together, The Boy and I, and we were joking around, having a lovely time razzing each other, until the clerk called us up. Her quiet, sympathetic voice and pitying head-tilt quickly reminded me that this was a solemn occasion. Suddenly the weight of the moment hit me, the sad ending to something with such a happy beginning…I turned to look at my husband while the clerk disappeared for some paperwork, and The Boy, too, appeared to be lost in thought. I caught his eye, and he looked at me with a pained expression for a moment. My heart constricted, thinking how we were both standing here, the grief on his face so clear…then he relaxed very suddenly and said, “I just farted.”

You’d think that would have quashed any nagging sense of sadness I’d have, but it didn’t. 


I woke up yesterday to head down to the courthouse, an hour late because I’d smacked my alarm and dismissed it. I frantically ran around the house trying to find the paperwork, and when I couldn’t find everything I called The Boy, sobbing, and told him I’d lost things. It took him about six seconds to calm me down, which was strangely bittersweet. The reality is, after you’ve been with someone in a bond as tight as matrimony, time and distance won’t change the fact that you know exactly how to push each other’s buttons—both the good ones and the bad.

From that time I fell down the stairs and thought I'd
die and be eaten by dogs. Fun times, divorce!

I sped down the highway, eating dry peanut butter granola right out of the box, and applying a solid coat of lipstick. The granola was because I’m a bear if I don’t eat; the lipstick was because I only have one source of advice on divorce, and that’s a book called The Grrl Genius Guide to Life. I’ve talked about this book before, because I’m currently helping the author, Cathryn Michon, market her new film Muffin Top. In the Guide to Life, Cathryn details her (tardy) arrival at her very own divorce proceedings. She explains that even during labour, her mother had always had applied a fresh coat of her signature lipstick, and Cathryn now carries the generational lipstick torch. I have learned the value of a good coat of lipstick, during this period of working entirely from home, sometimes in my PJ’s or just a pair of tights and a tee shirt because I couldn’t figure out what to wear and got distracted by Facebook. Between the grief of separation (which I’m convinced is always written on my face), and the hermititude of solo freelance work, sometimes putting on that lipstick makes me feel like I’m part of the human collective again.

Anyway, I swished on a fresh coat before heading into the courthouse, which was a much better idea than a fresh coat of mascara, because I spent the next four hours bursting into tears. The mood was lightened as The Boy and I ate sour cherry gummies and watched the remake of 21 Jump Street on his iPad; between bouts of tears I now had bouts of embarassing laughter, which was much more noticeable in the somber waiting room. When it was finally our turn, The Boy (as usual) charmed the girl behind the counter, who then complimented him on his handlebar mustache. This is something he’s grown post-separation, and I hate it. I shook my head at the girl and assured her, the mustache alone was fair grounds for divorce. We all laughed. Which is strangely creepy, I know, but one of the things The Boy and I had in common was using laughter as medicine.

When it all began: lying on my face was all I did.

Somewhere between the tears, we updated each other on how our lives were going. I guess I ended up raving about Cathryn’s Muffin Top kickstarter, and maybe it was my passion, or maybe it was my pitiful bursts of tears, but somewhere in there The Boy pulled out his iPhone and donated to the campaign.

I wrote to Cathryn last night and told her about this. I knew she would appreciate my tardy courthouse arrival with half-prepared files and a glossy coat of lipstick. I knew also that there was magic in the fact that, as I sat in that miserable place thinking about Cathryn’s divorce story, that story was giving me strength to deal with my story, and then somehow my story got all intermingled with hers again and then suddenly, I had my ex husband pledging money to fund the work of the woman who had made me brave enough to go through with the divorce in the first place. 


The Boy and I went for a sandwich after the papers were all done. He promised to help me fix my iTunes, and I ended up dropping him off at a doctor’s appointment. This is not the divorce you see on TV; I don’t know what this is, but I’m okay with it. I’ve seen plenty of exes hating each other, tormenting each other, and ignoring each other; I’d rather this laughter, support, and kindness.

There’s no right way to wrap up this story because it doesn’t really have an end to it. But the moral is quite clear: wear your lipstick like armor. And always watch stupid comedies in miserable waiting rooms. And also: if I’m shilling my project in the middle of my divorce proceedings, it’s possible I’ve finally found my calling in the marketing field.


  1. Beautiful post.. I know you're sharing the good and bad and in a non-glamourous way, but your words and apparent empathy and ability to laugh with your ex really show a certain grace. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gee, for some reason I have seen a lot of good writing today. Including this.

  3. My daughter and her sweetheart of an ex celebrated their divorce by going to see Leonard Cohen in concert - Together. LC had brought them together in the beginning. Loving good divorce stories. Sad that I don't have one.


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