To Connecticut, for Easter!
Two tartes tatin in hand — one apple, one pear — I sleepily descend; out of the building and into the waiting car. Today is brilliantly sunny, unlike yesterday, which was a downpour.
One man awaits: Nantucket Reds; blue blazer; embroidered tie. It is my old life, in my old car, my old man, on his way to do all of the old things from our former life. Another lurks: screaming that I didn’t say that I was going with that man; that I had said Metro North; that I was supposed to be doing this thing, at this time, at this place. That I was a liar.
I realize I don’t owe anyone anything — except maybe a bit of gratitude to my ex-husband for the ride, and I offer it up on a platter, in caramelized sugar, and pears with ginger and a pastry crust. And I realize, too, in my offering to the only man who has the right to call me a liar but never really did, that I am through with being punished for my non-lies by people who cannot tell the truth.
We drive out of the City on the FDR, and we talk. Talk talk talk. About funds — mutual and other; about our mutual hatred for our shared banker; about the same things we talked about when we were married, mostly. Except now he spices the chat with references to speed dating — and how his playlist on the stereo gets him girls. I find this hard to believe, because the playlist contains ABBA and Enya, but I concede in my head that there are lots of different kinds of girls in this big world.
We drive the route we always drive, because this is the way we do things. We are creatures of habit. Our driving routine takes us up the FDR to the Major Deegan over to the Cross County on to the Hutch out to 287, and finally, on to 95. It is not direct; nor is it the best way to go; it is not always the least trafficky. But it’s the way we go, and the way we have always gone. So we go that way.
We are the same — nearly identically — as we always were. Darling and Dear, driving the Jag to Mommy and Daddy’s. Except nothing is the same. He is perhaps the same as he ever was, but I am different. It feels in these moments like he has everything, and I have been emptied — taken for all I am worth.
He is dating four women and has been actively dating for a long time. Date date date. I am not really interested in dating, I say for the umpteenth time. I am not really interested anymore in the many variations on how cruel and awful and demeaning to women men can be. I’ve had my fill of humiliation for a while, thanks.
He looks at me askance when I say these things; knows they are not because of him. Despite our differences, despite our mess, we had managed to treat each other mostly with respect. We had been fragile and human, and had sometimes called names. But we were always in it for better or for worse, as promised, until the day the clerk stamped the papers.
Now, we are free to laugh. Because we are free.
It’s funny, he says, sometimes girls think New York guys are afraid of commitment…but not me.
You practically show up with a U-Haul on the first date, I laugh.
He drops me off in Norwalk; he continues back to his family in Darien. We part ways with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Always cordial; always civil. He did nothing to me; I did nothing to him. And I am left outside the home of dear friends, wearing a halo of nothing, down one tarte tatin, rearranging my Easter face.
The Easter is lovely; the friends and family are lovely; there are endless pitchers of drinks, and heaping plates of spinach salads studded with roasted strawberries, a fritatta filled with leeks and zucchini; there are cakes covered in sugar flowers, and candies, and there is my caramely tarte tatin.
Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen!
We, however, may never rise from this table.
And then, without warning, the day is ending and Andrew sends me a message asking if I want a ride back to the City. But arrangements have already been made and the clouds are rolling in over the Gold Coast. The gloriously sunny Fairfield County day has been assumed by April Showers again. I take it as a sign. It is time to go back to New York — back to my New York life with my New York things. To begin again, on the ending of this new day.