It was a normal Thursday. Nothing special about the date. Just a random date chosen off of my calendar at work.
I didn’t pull my car into the garage the night before. I wasn’t prepared for the rain. Not a sprinkling. Or a gentle, soothing rain. Torrential, windy, flooded streets and parking lots rain.
I couldn’t find the papers. I looked everywhere. Stood out in the pouring rain looking in my car. Searched all through the house. I’d almost given up when I saw them. Right where I’d put them so I wouldn’t forget where they were. Sitting in the bedroom. In plain sight.
Safely tucked in my purse, my newest Kate Spade I picked up at Christmas at the Branson outlets because my friend said he liked it and it suited me – the one my oldest said looked like a cloud…I had almost changed purses that morning because I wasn’t sure I wanted this particular moment in time to pop into my mind every time I picked it up. Until I remembered the day I bought it and how strong I had been that day, how I had chosen to be brave and vulnerable and hadn’t let honest words that were so hard to hear break me.
I ventured out into the rain to my car. Stopping first for a front door selfie to remind myself of this moment. How hard it was, but also that despite everything, the smile that’s on my face, almost always now, isn’t forced or a mask anymore. Trying to hide under the umbrella I picked up last summer on a trip to Conroe, TX, where I window shopped at Tiffany’s for the first time. Where I had started to learn how to be silly and in the moment again…
Bank for cash. Calling a friend for a little boost of bravery. Starbucks for energy. Dropped off a prescription. Any small thing to put this off, just for a few more minutes.
Only a few people knew where I was going. My boss, because he is amazing and we overshare and he’s become such an incredible… I don’t even know the word…encourager, supporter, cheerleader… 2 friends I texted that morning. 1 friend on the phone. Several important people I didn’t tell. I still don’t know why.
Except I do. I knew how supportive they would have been. They would have dropped everything to go with me. And I had to do this on my own.
I typed the address into Waze and headed out. Playlist going strong. The rain beating down. Driving through town. Into the country. Remembering the last time I had made this drive. We had made this drive. I hadn’t been alone the last time. I had been as emotional. Unsure. Sad. Happy. Afraid. But I wore the mask well back then. I had convinced myself as soon as we did this…12 years ago…things would be better.
I pulled into the same parking lot. Alone this time. Dressed up. Heels. Which I wear almost every day now because I can and they make me feel good. Thinking I would just go in the same side door we had years ago, I hiked up the pants legs of my slacks so they wouldn’t drown in the deep puddles covering the parking lot. Thankful for heels that kept them from dragging on the ground. The rain had slowed a little so I didn’t take the umbrella. Seeing the sign on the side door saying everyone had to use the front entrance. Covid changes I suppose. Walking as quickly as I could to the front.
The steps. The front of the building. Not a side door to slip into. To quietly find my way and do what had to be done. No. The big front steps to walk up. Walk through the big double doors. More steps. Reading all of the signs. Telling the security guard why I was there. Hearing her say she’d be right back. Standing there. Waiting. She’s back now. Telling me that someone will be out in a few minutes to help me.
Thinking in my head that they’re just coming out to escort me back. Patiently waiting.
Then she’s there. With a form. Pointing out what to fill out. Taking the papers that had been safely tucked away. Scanning them with her eyes. Handing me back the last few pages, telling me that I’ll bring those with me on my court date. Not asking me to walk with her. I turned to the side where I had noticed a pen. Next to a clipboard of marriage license request forms.
Not here. Surely she didn’t expect me to do this out here in the open. Tears spilling out. I look at her but she had turned away already.
Standing in the hallway. The main overhead light was out. So dim. No sunlight coming through the glass in the double doors. Of all the things Covid has taken away, this is just one more moment that I thought would be in a more intimate setting. Not out in the open for anyone to walk by.
Wiping my eyes. I can do this. No one is watching. I can wait to fall apart. I can do this.
Turning on the flashlight on my phone so I can see well enough to write in the tiny boxes. More tears. Looking over at that clipboard again. Thinking about the jokes my friends would have made about the irony if I had let them be here with me. Trying to stop the tears before I had to face the paper girl again.
Digging in my purse for my wallet. Checking. Double checking. Filling in something I had missed at first.
Walking over to her. Handing her the paper. Counting out and handing her cash. Like the last time. Except the opposite. The last time we were in an office. Together.
Hearing her say she’ll be back shortly. Walking down the inside stairs to a bench. The tears. Demanding to be set free this time. Letting them pour out. Silently. Thinking about how I had become so good at crying silently next to you so you wouldn’t notice.
She’s back. I’m not sure how long it was. Too long. Not long enough. Giving me a receipt. Copies. Telling me to call the number she’d written on the receipt Monday for a court date. Remembering all the questions I had asked when I had called the day before. Asking again today, he doesn’t have to be here does he? No. Just bring your witness.
Watching her turn away. Tears again. Focus. Steps. Find keys. Look up. Open the door. Start walking. Hike up pants legs. Look up. Smile at the woman running up the steps in leggings and tennis shoes talking to me about how cold the rain is. Agree and look away.
Walk down the big steps. Rain so hard my clothes are soaked through before I step off on to the sidewalk. Walking as fast as I can. Around the building. Through the parking lot where the puddles are even deeper. Unlock the car.
Get in the car. The inside of the door is soaked from being open for a few seconds. My clothes are heavy and cold from the rain. Turn on the car and crank up the heat. My hair sticking to my head, dripping down my shoulders.
I can’t tell the tears from the rain. Mixed. Playlist back on. Not that song.
Driving away. Texting a friend, asking him to call, not knowing if he can. The one who just went through the same thing. Knowing he understands these conflicting emotions because it’s so fresh in his memory.
Not ready to go to the office. Decide to surprise a friend for her birthday. Distracting myself with busyness.
He calls and the tears come again and he tells me again that he was the same way two weeks ago. Reminds me of all the things I needed to hear. Gives me the permission to breakdown and ugly cry that I couldn’t give myself. Validates with his words that we will both always love them and do anything for them and that’s what we move forward with when we can’t move forward with them anymore.
I go to the wrong place and he laughs because he knows I always get lost. He knows so much about me. He’s given me back to myself…supported me, boosted my confidence, told me over and over that I deserve more.
Then the conversation turns to his dating life as it usually does. I love how we can talk about anything and everything. Funny story. Sarcasm. Laughing at each other with each other. Then more serious and I’m giving him advice and, at the same time, learning more about myself. He’s my best guy friend. After an hour on the phone, we both need to go. Telling him again how glad I am that we’re friends. Reminding him whoever he ends up with will have to be my best friend too, so make sure she’s prepared for a package deal…
Now the sun is out. Because that’s what happens. After the storm. The sun comes out. It’s hot. And the AC in my car stopped working a few months ago. Windows down. Hair and clothes still not completely dry. Run by Sonic to grab the daily Dr Pepper for one of the guys at work. It started as a joke and now it’s our thing. Doing the normal things helps.
Walking into my office. Sitting in the silence for just a moment. Pulling the papers from my purse and setting them on my desk to remind me to call Monday. Walk around the office to catch up with my people.
Back in my office. Returning calls and emails. He walks in with the Dr Pepper I’d brought him and sits down to talk. We talk about work. My morning. The weather. I mention my AC isn’t working and he tells me he’ll fix it when I get back from my Kansas City trip. I realize how lucky I am to have found another work family that takes care of me.
Finally texting my best friend that I hadn’t told to let her know. Texting my oldest. Plans for dinner at my house with them.
The afternoon goes on. More calls and texts. Dinner with T and D. Listening to T tell me about her first day at work. She doesn’t even know how proud I am of her. Chinese takeout. Their treat. Cookies and chocolate milk because that’s who we are. Hugs goodbye.
Cuddled up in my bed. Feeling…undone. More tears. Exhausted.
Then it’s Friday morning and I’m awake before my alarm again. Crank up the music and start the day. Still undone. Wondering how I’ll feel in April when it’s actually undone.
Now it’s Saturday morning. I’ve been awake for hours. Shower. Laundry. Coffee. Texts.
Realizing I’m okay. This undoing isn’t my undoing. I’m still going. My life is still good. I am still happier more often than I’m sad. I have so many good things planned with so many amazing people.
Monday will come and I’ll make the phone call…getting that final date of undoing…
Then I’ll get in my car and drive to Kansas City for the week and I’ll keep moving forward. I’ll keep being thankful…for the people in my life…family…old friends…new friends…work family…a job I love…travel I love…
The undoing will eventually turn into new beginnings. I’ll keep the good memories. I’ll let go of the memories that broke me. I’ll keep working on me. I’ll let go of what other people say about me…about the undoing.
In case I forget…I’ll keep myself surrounded by my tribe…who will forever remind me when I doubt myself, that I tried…I stayed…until I had to choose between drowning or surviving.
The undoing was necessary for me to stop just surviving. So if you see me around, remember that I’m more than this undoing.
I’m also undoing the pieces of me that were locked away and learning to love all of me. Broken pieces, healed pieces, new pieces…