Sunday, September 8, 2013

Closing on the Condo, Opening a New Chapter

With just three weeks from receiving the verbal offer to signing the closing documents, I no longer own and share a home with my ex-husband. My marriage is really and truly over.

Homeownership wasn’t really something I was all that keen on from the beginning. I never particularly cared for the town we lived in. I pretty much only associated that condo with heartache and rejection. So why did I cry almost every day that I saw Max from offer to closing?

You often don’t know that something is occurring for the last time as the moment is happening, but I was acutely aware the last few weeks. My last time making pesto in the kitchen we remodeled. My last time having pizza with Max on the couch that he’s going to sell. My last time going for a run in this neighborhood. My last days sharing an address with Max. I tried to pause and really take it all in. This was a rare experience where I felt a chapter of my life closing.

Over just three weeks, we had to find a lawyer, juggle realtors, find new apartments, sign leases, get boxes, pack boxes, write checks, and answer about a million emails. You would think we would’ve been at each other’s throats from the stress and emotion, but no. In the first place, Max and I were never ones to fight (says something about the absence of passion in our relationship, no?). But I think these past few weeks, we both wanted to continue our peaceful cohabitation. We’d survived this long, why start screaming now?

But there were plenty of tears.

We divided up everything, many of which items were wedding and shower gifts. We spread out serving pieces on our dining room table and picked through our belongings like we were at garage sale. We raided our kitchen cabinets and divided appliances and bakeware, his on the left counter and mine on the right. We were so damn polite through it all, like somehow it might hurt less if we minded our manners. I felt like I was living the Sugarland song "Already Gone."

We divided the furniture, and the result is that each apartment would be properly furnished. And yes, I got the king bed.

I sorted through drawers and found cards and letters from Max back to 2005. I wanted to just throw out everything but I knew better. I carefully read through his promises to love me forever, his assurances that he would be the best partner to me that he could be, and observations that I make him a better person. I sobbed on the floor of the guest room as half the cards went in the trash and the other half got stuffed back in a drawer.

I took these down, one by one.
I finally took the wedding photos off the wall. We never took them down because we didn’t want buyers to know that we were divorced. For a year, those framed blissfully happy wedding day smiles have quietly tortured me as I came to terms with the end of my marriage. I asked Max if he wanted to go through any of our wedding photos. He said not yet, that he wasn’t ready, but won’t that be a good reason to get together another time to go through and divide them up? I said sure. I don’t think we’ll ever do it though. I wrapped framed photos in newspaper and sealed them in a box.

On the closing day, we scrambled to pack those final boxes (and why do those always take the longest?!) and do a final cleaning. At 1:30, it was time to lock the door and head to the lawyer. Max stopped to look around and take one last walk through. Sun was streaming in through the windows and reflecting off the hardwood floors. Nothing of ours was left in this echoing 990 square feet of space, but I felt the stinging presence of three and a half years of longing, disappointment, and acquiescence. I told Max I couldn’t be there and I had to go. In the hallway, he silently grabbed my hand and walked me to my car.

I started driving to the lawyer’s office and then the tears really came. By the time I got to the lawyer’s office, I was sobbing. Here was my moment to finally get rid of this damn condo and Max had to find me a restroom to pull myself together. I finally walked in to the lawyer’s office, my green irises creepily bright thanks to how red my eyes were from crying. I signed my married name over and over, and before we knew it, everything was done.

We went to lunch at a restaurant we used to frequent when we first started dating. We got spinach artichoke dip, just like we used to before I discovered Weight Watchers. After lunch, we took a short walk and reflected on the towns we’d lived in over our eight years together.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

The worst kind of goodbye is when you don’t know if or when you’ll see the person again. It was the kind of goodbye you never think you’d say to the person you married. We embraced in the parking lot. I told him that I loved him. He said he would always love me and would be there anytime I need him, even if it was just to get something off a high shelf. There wasn’t much else to say, so I told him to drive carefully.

And now, I’m officially in my new one bedroom apartment in the town I’ve wanted to be in for years. My apartment is a complete mess of boxes but it’s MINE. My friends have a welcome back party planned for me in two weeks. Everything is falling in to place. It hurt to have finally said goodbye to Max, but I’m so very happy to be really and truly on my own and in my own space.

The new view out my bedroom window.
(And in case you’re wondering, Jason and I are still seeing each other. He’s coming over for dinner tonight.)

What were your final days living with your ex like?


  1. Wow, that really touched me. I kind of went through a similar thing when we had to move out of our apartment. I loved the apartment, even though it was old. It was an awesome location, big kitchen, on a greenbelt. And it was also very pricey because of all that. Justin lost his job and I couldn't afford to pay the rent on my own... luckily the lease was up in two months. And our marriage was done. I did all the packing myself. Justin had completely shut down. I had to rent a storage unit myself to put all the extra stuff in because I had to move in with my parents in the interim and they had no room for all the stuff. Because I was the one ending the marriage, mostly out of anger and pain, it was mostly numbness as I packed everything up. I needed out, is all I kept thinking. But gosh I was going to miss this place. I decided to miss the PLACE, and not the 3 years of hell inside. The place itself was not at fault. If I could move back into that complex, I would. I'm not entirely sure if the memories of our marriage would bombard me or not. It's just a place. But I'll probably never know. Good luck with everything, Kat. I know it's hard and I'm rooting for you!

  2. It's painful, isn't it? On the other hand isn't it better to go your separate ways and finish everything in a friendly way?
    I'm seeing my X this week and we will say good bye to each other. I'm kind of dreading it, but I know it's for the best.
    I can't wait to read more about Jason.

  3. Oh wow, you're about to go through it too?! I wish you well with that.
    More to come on Jason...!

  4. It's a really weird experience trying to extract emotion from objects. I really worked on that in the past year as I worked up to this point. You're right, it's not my old condo's fault that my marriage ended there!
    I'm rooting for you too!

  5. Nice view! I'm glad that you're finally able to close that chapter and open a new one in your own place.

    My final day living with my ex was the day before he asked for the divorce. June 12th was the last full day we lived together. June 11, 2012 was our 7 year wedding anniversary and 2 days later on the 13th he sat me down when I got home from work. He said he wasn't happy, wanted a separation followed by divorce then said he was going to go stay at his parents' house in the basement from thereon. He already had a lot of his stuff packed earlier that day. He said that he packed his computer because he wasn't sure how I would react - if I would scream and break things... or if I would sit immobile in stunned silence. It never occurred to me that he would fear my reaction.

    I don't quite remember the last time I actually saw him in the flesh with my own eyes. It was maybe late July or early August 2012 when we divided up our stuff or when I had him transfer my iTunes stuff from our shared account to my own account. He hurt me pretty badly by having an affair for 6-8 months beforehand and how he went about asking for a divorce (telling his parents, coworkers and a few friends before telling me) so I feel like I am justified in not feeling too kindly toward him. By that point in time the fact that we didn't love one another was glaringly obvious. We packed things separately - he would come to the house for his things while I was at work. We didn't want to fight about things and we went through everything pretty numbly yet civilly. There were definitely tense moments where we were both clamping down on some pretty severely unhappy emotions toward one another.

    It's crazy and I feel foolish when I to look back at when I thought "we'll always be together" and when I thought our relationship could stand the test of time and tribulation. I realize that I need to have my own life that is all mine instead of depending on someone else always being there as a part of it or someone else to define my life. I have my independent life now and any relationship I have (such as with Tony) should be in tandem with my life and not defining my life. It's great being with him [we've been together 2 months now, holy cow] but we have lives apart from one another and that feels good.

    I know that I no longer love my ex and I haven't for a long while. He's not the person I initially fell in love with and married. He hasn't been that person for at least 2 years. I might be sad if he got hurt or died but there's no love.

  6. Well your post made ME cry, and I'm not even there. Leaving someone you love is bittersweet, even if it's the right thing to do.

    I hope you and Max stay lifelong friends. I think handling things politely does save hurt feelings, you 'did good.'

    Thank you for linking to Super Sunday Sync.

  7. Thank you. "Bittersweet" is just the way I've been describing it to my friends and family.

  8. I have been through this kind of thing three times now. No I wasn't married all three times only once. They were just long term live in relationships. It is never easy saying goodbye. Glad you both were able to maintain civility. Good luck in your new life.

  9. Ugh, three times! How has your heart taken it. :(
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your good wishes.

  10. Not well even though I was the one choosing to leave each time. I knew it was over so why stay in a dead relationship that was only driving me crazy. It ripped my heart to sheds knowing it didn't work out again. I think I cry more than they do. Sometimes I think I am just meant to be single even though I have been in this current relationship over 11 years.