The phone rang this morning at 8:05 a.m.. It was a call timed as only someone who knows when I drop off my children at school can time it, because he sometimes shares the chore.
“Good morning,” I answered.
“Good morning,” said my ex-husband.
“You know I talk to you now more than I did when we were married,” I quipped.
He ignored the joke and launched into whatever order of business he wanted to discuss today, which was different than it was yesterday and the day before. He has called me every morning this week. If the me of 2009 could see this, she would keel over in her chair. (If the him of 2009 could see this, he’d probably kick the him of 2015).
The calls are short, usually, and to the point. (But, then, they also were when we were married. He was never one to wax poetic about politics or life). I have just built the website for his new business, and he has a page he wants to add. The kids, inscrutable and difficult to shop for as teenagers can sometimes be, only communicate their very specific Christmas lists to me and he wants to know what they’re thinking. He wants me to buy all the Christmas presents and he’ll give me his share of the money. He wants a ride to a car-rental place. He wants to drop off dinner later. Can I use new Christmas lights? A few weeks before Halloween, he dropped off a propane tank that had been cut into the shape of a cylindrical pumpkin and wired with light. Every day it’s something different.
He wants to be friends.
My friends tease me that he wants more. (He doesn’t. And neither do I). But there’s a certain comfort in the rapprochement, a reminder that even the harshest of opponents can lose their anger and boil things down to the essence of being human together in a common cause. We’ve got kids. I know how to build websites. He’s a great cook, far better than I will ever be, and has a restaurant kitchen at his disposal. He knows how to source wacky holiday decorations. We could hate each other, sure. God knows we’ve both done enough to justify it. But it’s just easier to like each other instead.
I have no energy for holding grudges anymore. I let it all roll off me, old angers, questions why, and just exist in the moment.
Some Sundays, when he’s worked too hard to see the kids all week, I drive us all up to the restaurant for dinner. The place is beautiful, his hard work evident in every nook and cranny. This is where he shines, in his million-dollar surroundings. I like for my kids to see their father this way, in charge, surrounded by something he’s proud to have built. Not because it erases our past, but because it supersedes it. There is always a way to write a new chapter just when you thought the book had been shut.