Life Story: In Spring, After the Winter
The day I moved back in with my parents, into the spacious upstairs bedroom with mountain views and a wall of windows, I dropped to my knees beside the bed and told myself one very important thing: If you never, ever get married ever again, you are still a being of great worth.
And with that decided, I carried on.
The gigantic pool of support I felt everywhere I went encompassed me, buffered me. It felt like heaven had descended to hug and hold me. I remember getting a phone call from one of my dad's oldest friends who said to me, "It's like you've walked through the valley of the shadow of death." Yes, it did feel so much like that--and in that valley I walked with God feeling strength and power. There is no other explanation for what saved me, it was a divine intervention completely.
My sister Page who had told me she would be there for me when my marriage ended (she predicted the fall at the same time I told her I was engaged) followed through with her promise. We went to Paris together and discovered the city of lights using my sloppy French and her money. It was on that trip I started to think about the beauty of the female body as a flawed, fleshy subject and the curiousness of the form when left to wildly grow about rather than controlled with diet and exercise. It was Paris and the women of marbled art and luminescent paint that inspired me to start seeing my own body as a work of art.
Without provocation or prodding, my body released pounds of weight. It came off without my cognizance. I was surprised when my pants fell off my hips. I guessed I didn't need the protection anymore.
At home I continued working at Sunset View Elementary School as a reading aid and an after-school program teacher. I looked forward to my job almost daily and thought myself lucky to work in a place where I heard the voices of children singing, playing, laughing. My co-workers became good friends and some of my greatest support. They gladly called me by my maiden name (Miss Clark) the minute I broke the news.
A generous family friend offered to be my attorney in the legal proceedings for free. She was so sweet to me and as we sat down for the first time to start the paperwork she told me, "Some of the greatest people I know have been divorced, I want you to know this isn't the end of your life." Then she meticulously explained all my options and gave me her best advice. The divorce was finalized in February without incident.
School became my life. I was in my last semester in my Behavior Sciences courses at UVU and I dug in with all my soul. Learning was my power. The more I learned, the more I became stronger in spirit. I loved my classes and professors, I loved my fellow students and the windowy top hall of the Gunther Trades Building.
For a couple months my ex-husband showed up at school or in the parking lot next to my car on campus. Sometimes he was angry and wanted to yell at me in the halls. I'd see his head appear in the window slot on the classroom door with a pointed finger at me. My stomach would drop and my face would flash red but I'd get up and meet him outside. Every incident became easier for me to shrug off. I started to feel physically stronger in his presence.
Then in April I graduated. I walked across the platform in my billowy black robe and tasseled-hat and picked up my degree. I was elated. So proud. I felt like I was the champion of my life. I remember hugging my parents after the ceremony. The three of us, we all did it together.
As a graduation present to myself I took off to San Fransisco to live with Page and her family for a month. We sat on her sunny balcony looking out at huge coastal trees and distant fog discovering truth through our lenses. Some of the best discussions I hope to ever have happened that month of living with five beautiful, smart children and the memory of a life left behind.
But before all of that, before Paris and body-awareness, San Fransisco and graduation, before the divorce was even inked, only a week after I had shut the door of the apartment building that led to my marriage, I was at a New Year's Eve party and looked up to meet a tall, handsome man Christopher Kendrick He was the man next door, the one I had heard so much about, the friend of my brother Topher, and the great love of my life. Only I didn't know it.
Except, I think I did.