It was hot, and I was wearing flannel, like I often do.
I pulled up to the Champion Motors in Englewood. I’ve passed it a million times on the way to the beach.
This can’t be right.
I checked the address, and then I saw him. Who gets divorced at a small car dealership?
After yelling at him like I often would, we walked inside and I saw the chalkboard with a list of services.
The dealership owner’s wife had an office in the back where she did all kinds of things.
She was a notary. She filed paperwork for people and – apparently – she filed divorces, too.
It was $50 cheaper than going to the courthouse.
And after nearly two years of asking for the divorce, he finally agreed to pay, so I sucked it up.
I wasn’t paying because I didn’t cheat, he did.
She explained her title and all of the paperwork, but I couldn’t stop looking at her long red hair, thinking …. how did we get here?
“Do you have any shared assets?”
Does a broken heart count?
“Do you want to ask for anything?”
Yeah, three years of my life back.
And I’m pretty sure he was high then, too. I could always tell.
I couldn’t wait for this day. This was the day I had been cursing at him over the phone for about four years now.
You cheated on me, I want my last name back.
But as I was sitting there. I wasn’t so much relieved. I was mad, angry, upset and near tears.
I am 21 years old … and I am getting a divorce.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.
I’m smart. I go to college. I have never been in trouble. I’m kind. I loved him with everything I had.
When I said “I do” nearly three years before this day – I meant it.
When I thought of divorce, I always used to associate it with cheaters, liars or people who couldn’t handle it. These people were quitters.
Maybe it’s because my parents have been married for 33 years, and though they aren’t the “norm” anymore, I’ve always had these beautiful goals and standards for relationships.
I wanted to be like them. I wanted forever.
But once things started getting rocky, I realized it was ok to leave.
It’s fine to realize you deserve better.
It’s fine to walk away from abuse.
It’s fine to stand up for yourself.
Walking away doesn’t make you a quitter. In most cases, I see it as strength.
If you can look at a situation and realize you need to get out – go, and don’t look back.
You tried, and life doesn’t ever go the way you planned.
I definitely didn’t plan to sit at the Champion Motors next to the Denny’s on 776, finalizing a divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, this is what I wanted all along. I had a new boyfriend who treated me right, and I was happier than ever.
But when you are actually there, signing away that your marriage is irretrievably broken, or something equally as haunting, it’s surreal.
We had an apartment, we had the same last name, we had towels with our names on them, we had plans. All of that seems like a million years ago.
I said bye, thanks for paying.
How do you say goodbye after a divorce? We were both different people now – older, wiser maybe.
Who was Marla Cooper anyway?
She seems like a dream.