I was walking my dog at about 9:30 tonight when I ran into a neighbor with her two dogs. Since we’re dog people we usually exchange mindless pleasantries, try to keep the dogs from killing each other or mating, and move on, but tonight she asked me something that surprised me.
As our dogs happily sniffed each other, she asked how I was doing. I said I was fine and she said, “But you’re divorced right?” And I said, “Yeah.”
Then she asked me whether I was happy in my apartment and if I wanted to buy a house. And I responded, “Yes, I’d love to buy a house but I can’t afford one right now.” (After all, we are in southern California where you have to either be a movie star or have a successful meth lab to be able to afford anything.) Then she said, “But aren’t you worried? I mean we’re not young anymore, how will you find someone?”
And I honestly had to stop for a moment to realize what she was asking me. It took me a second and, (yes I was a little sad that she didn’t think I still looked young and hot) but I said, “Well, I’m not worried about that right now.” Then she asked, “But how will you do it?” I told her, “Well, I’ll work hard and I’ll make enough money to get one.” (A house, not a man.)
Then she questioned me, “But don’t you think it’s fate or luck?” And I said, “Well, if you work hard enough and prepare for what’s coming, then when good luck comes along in the form of an opportunity presenting itself, you’ll be ready for it. You’ll do great and and things will work out.”
And I’m honestly thinking the whole time, Wow, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation. This is so weird. It’s like having an in-depth conversation with the cashier at the the gas station. You just don’t plan to get into the details of your divorce, or your life plans, you know?
Then she questioned my whole hard work as preparation theory, asking, “But do you really think that’s possible?” I answered, “I absolutely do. That’s why I’m working so hard right now.” And she said, “So you really think you can do it?” And I never even thought to doubt myself before this moment and responded, “Yeah, absolutely I can, so can you.” She seemed so surprised by that thought; I don’t think it ever occurred to her that she could do it on her own.
We talked more about my divorce and why I decided to leave and why I think it was the right thing even though it was ridiculously difficult. I think she had a boyfriend/husband and they must have split up because I haven’t seen him in a while and she’s never been that interested in my life before.
Then she asked, “But how do you know you won’t make the same mistake again?” And I said “Because I really looked at what I went through. I thought and thought about what I did to contribute to our marriage not working out, because as great as it is to blame everything on the other person, I knew I was half the problem. My mistake was thinking I didn’t deserve to be valued,” I said. “I’ve learned that now and I won’t do it anymore.” (Of course the truth is I’ll probably slip up because this whole valuing thing still feels a little weird, but I like it.)
And as I talked more, the thing that surprised me was my answers, because I don’t think I’ve ever been this confident before. It felt pretty damned good to be able to tell her that, not only did I know I would make it, but that she would too.
As we parted, she gave me the biggest hug and told me to stop by next time I’m out for a walk… which I think I will. I like this new attitude… I kinda feel like the Oprah Winfrey of Glendale.