Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
THE ONLINE PROFILE
I am a cliché. A stereotype. A cautionary tale.
Those phrases run on the gerbil wheel of thought as I stare at the mostly blank computer screen. I have my name written: Anna Waite. My description: brown hair, hazel eyes, 5’5” (no weight–I’m not a masochist). And my age: 40. Barely. Not that I could add the qualifier on this app. There’s no exception space to say, I turned 40 three months ago, right around the time I started thinking about breast exams and my divorce finalized.
My head flops against the plush couch cushion, and I stare at the ceiling. A perfume of Febreze hits my nostrils, something like Warm Cider Goodness or Crunchy Dead Leaves. An artificial aroma announcing the impending arrival of Fall. Which makes me think of my fall. The one where I went from devoted and loving wife to a sucker single mom of two.
“How are you doing?” The cushion next to me dips, and my friend, Kira, sits. I turn to meet her concerned gaze. She looks beautiful, as always, and put together, a stark contrast to me. Her shiny black hair belongs in a Paul Mitchell ad, and her flawless, pale skin would crown her queen of the porcelain dolls.
“What scent is your Febreze thing?” I ask, absolutely not avoiding her question.
“It’s a Glade PlugIn, Apple of My Pie.”
“Ah. I should have guessed.” The tassels of the red throw pillow brush my leg, and I nudge it away, probably messing up her Feng Shui vibe. “Why is your house always clean?”
“Because I have a Korean mother who calls, and the first question she asks is how much I weigh. Followed by a request to Facetime and see my home.”
“Right. Mrs. Song.”
Mrs. Song retired to California several years ago, after her husband passed, but her presence still looms large. Literally. A huge portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Song hangs above the fireplace, right where they can continue to look down in disapproval.
“Enough avoiding. Let’s see what you’ve got.” Kira pulls the laptop from my grip and glances over the page. “It’s a little…minimalist.”
The blinking curser mocks me with its lack of movement. “Why am I doing this?”
Setting the computer aside, she turns and takes my hands. “Because you’re divorced. Not dead.”
“I would prefer dead,” I mutter.
“No, sweetie. Don’t say that.” Another thing about Kira, she doesn’t understand sarcasm. I often need to clarify.
“Joke. Just a joke.” Truthfully, though, death would have been easier. Between fighting, court dates, and the other woman, resting in a coffin sounds downright enjoyable.
“Well, it’s not funny.” She nods and picks up the laptop. “It’s time for you to get back out there. We’re going to finish your dating profile and start swiping through some prospects.”
“You’re bossy for a tiny hundred-pound woman.”
“That’s one hundred ten, Mrs. Song.”
“Whoa! Did you just banter?” I find my first real smile since shuffling through her door to set up an online dating account. “I’m so proud.”
“Which proves if I can change, you can, too. Now,” Her delicate fingers line up on the keyboard. “What are you looking for in a man?”
Inhaling a deep lungful of fortitude, I try to take this seriously. Or at least on the plane of serious that Kira lives on. “Okay, I want someone who’s kind. Someone who doesn’t mind I’ve put on an extra ten—” or twenty—“pounds in the last year. Good looking would be nice, but I’ve been married. I know attractive comes at a cost.”
Eight months before Mike walked out the door, he decided to “focus on himself,” which meant endless hours at the gym, better eating habits, and night runs where he disappeared until I fell asleep. Once his stomach slimmed to the point of being able to see his toes, and his arm muscles shaped to pre-marriage definition, weight wasn’t the only thing he dropped.
Kira stays as still as the cursor, not writing my response. “Courteous and cute? You just described a dog. Or a cat. This is more. This is your second chance at love.”
Love, hah. I used to be a believer. Once upon a time and happily ever after graced the corridors of my consciousness, but not anymore. Now my psyche cries get through the day and don’t commit homicide.
“I don’t know, Kira. This feels like a waste of time.” Slumping back into the sofa, I breathe in the Apple of My Pie and think about Prince Charming. My imagination disappoints me, and the guy who comes to mind is Mr. Clean. Probably because I used the Magic Eraser to wipe down some wall Sharpie before I came over. I would like help around the house, though. And he knows how to rock a tight white tee.
Oh, no! I’m one pair of leather pants away from a mid-life crisis.
“It’s time for me to go Mrs. Song on you,” she says, pulling me from my thoughts.
“Do you think things will happen if you don’t work for it?” Her voice falls into an exaggerated accent. “Magical life fairies do not swoop in and compensate for your failures.”
“Does Mrs. Song really say those things?”
“That and more.” She tips her head, her brown eyes daring me to dispute. “So, let’s make a profile.”
“Fine,” I growl, sounding more like my ten-year-old, Devin. “A spontaneous guy would be great. Mike used to schedule out the details of our lives.” The exciting anniversary when he taught me how to sync our calendars will warm me on cold nights when I dare to consider missing him. “Also, no Diet Coke drinkers. That’s when things really went off the rails.”
“Never trust a man who cuts sugar from his life.” Her black hair bunches with her shoulder shrug, and she tucks the strands behind her ears.
“And I want a music lover. I’m over long car rides listening to NPR.”
“What’s wrong with NPR?” The tapping keys click, click, click as she types.
“If you’re asking, you’ve never traveled across Texas wishing for some rock, pop, or country. Maybe 80s tunes or hip hop. Instead, it’s droning voices over an endless countryside.” Naps replaced music, the boring news chatter putting me to sleep. Which led to Mike’s complaints about me being a terrible travel companion.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Our fifteen years of marriage brought a lot of joy and love. Like how he used to massage my feet after a long day. And the way he’d open his arms, knowing I needed a hug. Those moments catch in my chest, a blossom of pain blooming and clogging my lungs. The ache catches me, as it often does, and my attempt at “functioning adult” crumbles. Tears well, my eyelids drooping to keep them contained. A sob escapes on my shuddered breath.
My marriage crashed and burned, every shared experience cast away, piles of garbage hauled to the landfill of broken dreams.
“No, you’ve given him enough of your tears,” Kira says, shaking her head, not an ounce of sympathy on her beautiful face. “He doesn’t deserve them. Think of the picking.”
Oh, yes, the picking. Mike’s habit of criticizing everything I said or did. Like I was a giant, unwanted scab on his life. A memory floats to the surface, a time when I met his colleagues at a work function. I made a comment, words he felt were irrelevant to the conversation.
“You’ll have to excuse my wife,” he said with a deprecating smirk and an arm around my shoulders. “She prefers naps to the news.” The loud laughter took aim, shots of embarrassment making a direct hit. A blush warmed my cheeks, and I kept my smile, no matter how tight it felt. I made an excuse and walked toward the bathroom, hoping to hold my composure until I made it. The door was in my sight, only a few steps away. Then, “Anna, wait.” He always found it amusing to use our last name–Waite–as an order. The solitude called to me, a quiet break in the bathroom to catch my breath and my dignity. But I turned and accepted his open arms. “I’m sorry, honey,” he whispered in my ear.
The bitter flashback leaves a vile taste in my mouth—no more of his picking in my life. I look at Kira. “You’re right. I’m better off without him.”
“It’s time for you to find someone worth your while.” Lifting the computer from her lap, she sets it in mine. “How does this sound?”
The once empty profile is now crammed with words. Flutterings of our conversation twisted in a beautiful spiral of how she sees me. A fresh swell of tears tickles my eyelashes, but these come from a different source, a happier place where I realize how lucky I am to have Kira.
Anna Waite; Brown hair; Hazel eyes; 5’5”; Age 40.
PROFILE WRITTEN BY A FRIEND: This is your lucky day! Recently back on the market, and bound to be in high demand, meet Anna, a rock star woman with serious marriage potential. Are you looking for someone funny? Personality paired with pretty? Then look no further. This girl has it all, as much humor as she has heart, and even your parents would approve. Don’t let this lady slip between your fingers. You better swipe right and grab her up before she’s gone for good.
Requirements: spontaneity is a must. If you prefer watching the news to living life, this girl’s not for you. Be prepared for adventure, jamming to the radio, and more fun than any adult should be allowed. Diet Coke drinkers need not apply.
Sarcasm might escape her grasp, but my girl Kira knows a sales pitch. Setting the computer aside, I wrap her in an awkward couch hug. Throw pillows crowd between us, and Mr. and Mrs. Song disapprove from the mantle. I don’t care.
“What do you think?” She asks when I let her go.
“I think…” The cursor hovers over the post button. Wiping my eyes, I look at the words again. I stand on the edge of change, fear tainting the possibilities. Do I want to put myself out there? To date, which I haven’t done in a decade and a half? Mike’s voice haunts me, the negativity and criticism threatening to unwind my confidence.
No. Not anymore. “I think this Anna is done waiting.” Profile Posted.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash. Edited by Debbie Hibbert