Today, of all days, was my court day. I am officially no longer bound by the bonds of matrimony. And although it was not humiliating for me, an expectation I worried over, it certainly was for most of the cases that came before mine.
I sat in a small court room, number 11, in the center of the city of Camden. The female judge began her day with a case of a lesbian divorce. I had just slipped my book out of my purse when the word “she” kept getting tossed around. Sitting there, my eyes growing very wide as the term “sexual relations” came up as the reason for the dissolution of this marriage. I bit my tongue before I blurted out the question burning my mind, “Did she cheat on you with a guy??”
The good news was that the universe threw me a bone, on a day I was uncharacteristically nervous to deal with. I was really worried that I’d cry like a girl or tell the judge to fuck off if she, in any way, was nasty to me. Worried that it would just be really hard on me. But having a situation that piqued my curiosity, which trumps all of my other emotions, was a true blue blessing.
The case right before mine was really sad. The defendant was this pitiful man who although he was not fat, had man boobs. Ones I could see through his sweatshirt, the sort of man boobs that want to sit under armpits, I guess to hide or keep warm. Well this poor chap, who has been clinically depressed for three years, unable to work, claimed he had made $10,000 in the last three years. The judge asked him what he did all day. This was the sort of thing I was afraid of for myself, a judge who lacks the compassion to see that she is publicly evaluating, well, judging, a stranger’s life. He answered her and said he picked the kids up from school sometimes. His wife, who had a lawyer, just wanted to be done with this guy. She clearly had enough of his depression. Their whole thing was sad, it was low. In a way, made even more sad by the fact that neither had the strength to fight. They both seemed like life, and all its joy and sweet desire and dreams, had just been removed from them completely.
My turn. My ex was not present, as he didn’t need to be, so it was just me, no lawyer. I was last so I had no audience. I was asked about 35 questions, all yes or no answers, and then she granted the divorce and said I could have my name, my identity, back. In the end she said I presented my case well and wished me good luck.
A couple of hours later I was taken out to lunch by friends, who happened to be two married men. A lunch complete with a bottle of champagne, us toasting my future. This was certainly an odd, or rather, characteristically Ingrid, way to celebrate. My family and female friends all called or sent texts of encouragement. Two dropped off flowers, white tulips with a beautiful card and a handwritten Dorothy Parker poem inside. I felt very loved and supported. But mostly, today I felt like me. Hopeful, lonely, curious, and mischievously excited that I have my whole life in front of me again. No longer held back by bonds or guilt or fear anymore.
My romantic dreams can breathe again.
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