Discover Paul has downloaded a new iPad game and has been playing some weird equivalent of Risk for hours as I slept. He shouts at me because I wake up Not Hungry, and he is afraid of me becoming a monster.
Truth: I haven’t had much of an appetite in weeks. The only thing that tastes very good is clementines.
Maybe he is not afraid of me becoming hungry. Maybe he is afraid of me remaining Not Hungry.
We bicker. We fight about his silly computer game, and the way the women get dressed up for each other in Dublin, and how I just want to spend my Saturdays in running clothes but in Ireland, that is not a done thing. We argue about breakfast and brunch and whether to go into to town or stay close.
We decide to stay nearby and go to the place we always go where we have the same things we always have, regardless of which city or country we are in: eggs and smoked salmon for me; whatever the special is for Paul.
Paul needs his hair cut.
He says: I won’t bother; I will wait. But I tell him that he isn’t coming out for Easter with a shaggy head of hair.
Let’s go get your hair cut.
We drive to the center of town and we are early for the haircut. So we go to buy Paul a new pair of jeans at Brown Thomas. The heavily made-up, spray-tanned salesgirl tries to interrupt me as I am asking Paul about which jeans he likes.
I know I have unwashed hair, and I have been in Amsterdam, London, and Dublin since Wednesday. I know I am not wearing any make up, and have topped my fancy jeans from LA with an old cashmere sweater. I am wearing hot pink flats because I had nothing else. I know no one is looking twice at me. I know I left all the hallmarks of worldly success back in New York — the big handbag, the sunglasses, and the other Wealthy White Chick accoutrements.
I was in the c-suite by 30. I’m here on business. This is hard. Sometimes I just want to wear running clothes on Saturday and not be bothered.
The girl keeps bringing Paul jeans, and I know it’s just her job, but she’s bringing him brands that don’t fit him, and the one thing I know is my ultra-premium denim. He buys the pair I have suggested, because it’s the pair that fit him like they were made for him.
I may not be anything special to look at, but I know my denim.
Paul goes on to get his haircut and I walk around.
Walk walk walk. What am I doing.
I haven’t had time to consider anything that has been happening. Should I feel guilty about Andrew? Should I apologise for the tough and consequential things I have been tackling — and succeeding at — in my career?
Should I apologise for being who I am, where I am?
Everyone loves an underdog; everyone reveres a hero. But what happens to you when you’ve survived the worst of the underdog days and you’re just slogging through the middle part? When you’ve picked up the pieces of ten years of constant catastrohpe, and you’ve managed okay, and you’ve survived humiliation, and heartache, and you’ve finally met a nice guy, and you’re doing well in your career, and you’re just trying to be a good person and get on with life?
What I’ve discovered is that nobody likes that. That’s a shitty novel that doesn’t sell; a pilot that doesn’t get picked up for the full season.
Should I buy tights? I think I need to wear tights to this meeting on Monday. I should stop at H&M and buy tights.
I buy tights. In one pocket of my jeans is Sterling; the other Euros. That’s the same for most of my coats, and bags, and I don’t remember the last time I could find a US Dollar. This isn’t to say I’m fancy, this is just to say my life has changed.
Paul’s haircut is finished.
I go back across the street to meet him. My hair is still unwashed; I am still not wearing any makeup. I thread my way between the tourists and the natives, and find him at the appointed meeting place, texting me.
We buy smoothies, then walk across St Stephen’s Green back to the car — the morning’s bickering forgotten; the afternoon light filtering between the trees.
I am thinking too much; I am thinking about nothing at all. I am thinking only that my sense of relief is palpable — the same thought I have been having for days — the only thought I can muster.
I had believed for so long that I had done something terrible by getting divorced — that I had ruined or broken Andrew and scarred him for life. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him — I did — but circumstances were such that our marriage was never going to work. I knew it, and I knew that I did the right thing, but the guilt of the last five years has been…crushing.
Some of my divorcee girlfriends struggle when their spouses remarry because they feel inadequate, or they become nostalgic, or the pine for what could have been.
I didn’t ever feel that way. I just felt the weight of the world, and the Catholic church, and a man who still called his mother “Mommy” on my shoulders.
We walk through St Stephen’s Green, where we laid in the grass last summer on my first visit to Dublin, and I think: For the first time in five years, I can finally breathe.