This sad equation came into being after my son was born but before we left Portland for Minneapolis and a speedy separation followed by a slow divorce. It was the only way I could process the end of my marriage, a tragic certainty I was powerless to stop at the time for reasons I am only now beginning to understand and accept. We could still be a “family” using this alternative math. I could become the dad and partner I’d never been. I achieved that goal, mostly, though the resulting status quo was anything but perfect. We fell into a respectful truce. Volumes left unsaid.
We tried to change the equation back to 1+1+1=3 from time to time, but I hadn’t come to terms yet with my starring role in everything shitty that already went down. I claimed only the “good” parts and left the rest on the cutting-room floor. I was a ruthless editor of painful and embarrassing facts in real-time. Anything that led to dark paths and a final reckoning with my devil was to be avoided. Anything that distracted from the man I wanted to be was boxed up and stored away forever. Or at least until September 29, 2019, when my ex unfriended me on Facebook for the first time since we connected in 2008 (my only friend, of course) and sent me hurtling further down the rabbit hole.
Even though I’m struggling to process that unexpected move, it was the best thing she could have done. Her strength continues to amaze, delight and sustain me. The weekend before that confusing turn of events, she responded to my heavy-handed critique of her parenting skills with a blistering allusion to wrongs never made right despite the email being focused on the current drama. It was legitimately the first time she’d been so passionate and forthright in her own defense. I felt her anger, pain and resignation to the depths of my soul. It unlocked memories I didn’t know existed. I thought we found peace. Ages ago. Nope. Not even a little.
1+1+1=4 may be an equation etched in stone now. A Universal constant no longer subject to the quantum forces that seek to reattach like particles across space and time. I’m trying to Nikola Tesla my way toward an innovative solution most men in my situation never seem to consider. Tell the truth. Take responsibility. Ownership. Be the better man she hoped I could be. She wasn’t trying to “change” me all those years. She was trying to help me heal. Help us heal. She always wanted the best parts of me. The writer. The lover. The dreamer. The activist. The friend. What she couldn’t stomach was the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde show. How could she? Why would she?
The final season of that show led to an abrupt cancellation and sacking of everyone involved, from the writers to the producers to the leading man. It was a bloodbath. While the cast delivered Emmy-worthy performances, they are better left to the archives. Our hero’s ultimate redemption lay waiting in the bitter ashes left by his bonfire of vanity, however, and a new studio came calling for the rest of their story. The last episode didn’t have a happy ending. Just more unanswered questions. Audiences hate sad endings. They especially hate cliffhangers.
A sequel is being considered, but details remain sketchy and unconfirmed. Stay tuned for developments as they emerge.