This week I was in Tucson, Arizona for a funeral. Tucson is where I grew up from fifth grade through college. I have friends there that I’ve known for 35 years. It’s where I had my first kiss, my first job, and my first car. It’s where I left the innocence of grade school behind and started becoming a young man.
It’s also where I proposed to my wife.
We met under a strange set of circumstances. She was going to marry a friend of mine and I was going to be in the wedding as one of his groomsmen. Their relationship, along with the wedding plans eventually fizzled out, but she and I kept in touch. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, doing stand-up and working two jobs. We both ended up in Tucson at another mutual friend’s wedding a few months later. I liked her instantly.
She did not reciprocate.
After the weekend of the wedding, I went back to L.A. and she returned to Oklahoma. Despite her initial lack of interest, we kept up regular contact on the phone and AOL messenger (yeah, it was that long ago). Eventually, she began showing interest in me and our phone conversations had gotten pretty serious. We made plans to meet in Arizona again – and this time I was bringing a ring.
We attended a Pearl Jam concert in Phoenix, then headed to Tucson to see some friends. I proposed at an Italian restaurant called Gavi. It’s called Piazza Gavi now and it’s in a different part of town, but it’s the same restaurant. Once we were done with dinner, I got down on one knee, and with everyone in the place watching, I proposed.
She said yes!
And now, fifteen years later, she’s divorcing me because she says she was never really in love with me. She said she married me because she thought I would make a good husband. She hoped the romantic feelings would grow and we’d be fine. But a decade and a half later, they still haven’t and obviously we’re not.
Why didn’t she just say no? Why take such a major risk? Why build a life together and bring three children into her roulette game of emotions? Why?
I wish she had just said no. Yes, it would have stung. It would have been humiliating. But it wouldn’t have been nearly the soul-crushing blow that this divorce has been. I hate her for taking that chance. I hate her for breaking up my family. I hate her selfishness and cowardice. I hate her for making me second guess everything I thought I knew about my life.
Today, to be divorced means to be mystified.