Sunday, September 29, 2013

Driving My Ex-Husband's Car and Dumping the Memories

If you had the option to own something that you strongly associate with your ex, would you buy it? Could you disassociate the memories of the ex from the object you want?

I did in the name of getting a car I like for a price I love.
My new ride!
Max no longer needs his car, a 2002 Honda in very good condition. I drive a 2005 Sentra with an irritatingly small trunk and no sunroof. I’ve always coveted the Honda, so we discussed having me buy his car off of him.

Max was willing to give me an excellent price under two conditions: I get a small dent repaired (mishap with a pole in Lillian’s garage two years ago that he never repaired) and buy new tires. In his words, “I know the dent isn’t a safety issue, but I just don’t want you driving around in a dented car.” I thought that was sweet -- he's always wanted me to drive a nicer car.

I was chatting with my brother about this impending deal, and he asked me a good question: “Are you sure it will be OK to have Max’s car? Like will there be any issues with memories with that car?”

Fair point.

I do in fact have many memories of Max and me in the Honda since 2005.

We took our first roadtrip together to Bangor, Maine, to spend a weekend with his college friends. It would be at least 12 hours in the Honda, just the two of us. I remember saying to Nora, “I’m either going to come home more in love with him or I will have dumped him!” Max and I returned even more smitten with each other.

Countless times, we went to visit his college friends and their two children, who live about an hour away from us. We loved playing with their kids. Max and I would drive home talking about the adorable things the kids said and how much we admired his friends as parents. “When we have kids,” I used to say, “we will do team parenting, just like them.” 

In the Honda, ae drove to his parents’ in New England house for my first visit. I was nervous but so excited to see Max’s hometown and the house where he grew up. When we would visit, he loved to take me out in the car, sunroof open, and just cruise around. He’d tell me that was where he had cross country practice and over there was his old buddy Tom’s house.

Sometimes on our drives to New England I would read to him. We laughed together as I read Me Talk Pretty One Day. I shuddered and he playfully called me a wus as I read The Hunger Games.

But then there are the sad Honda memories.

We took his car the first time we saw a urologist about his lack of libido. (I knew he’d never go straight to counseling, so I suggested getting him physically checked first.) The climate in the car was cool, to say the least.

Then there were many trips to therapists, often in the Honda. The rides there and back would just suck. I always desperately hoped that the therapy session would get Max to open up to me on the way home, but it never went that way. Any sign of progress in the session would disappear as soon as we were back in the car, back in regular life where he would hide from his demons.

I will never forget the drive Thanksgiving 2010. We were driving to Max's parents’ for the holiday and his depression was in full swing. He was cold and distant. I can’t remember what he said (or didn’t say), but I ended up crying. In fact, I cried in that front passenger seat for almost three hours straight. Not once did he reach over and touch my hand or tell me it would be OK. I said to him, “What the hell is wrong with you that you can sit next to your wife when she crying like this and you don’t say a word?” Silence. Through my tears, I gazed out the window as the bare trees on the Mass Pike flew by.

He drove us to the last therapy session that we had together, the one when I knew in my heart that there was no hope left for us. I cried so hard after that appointment that I couldn’t speak.

He drove me in that Honda to the train station when I left him for a month in hopes he’d figure himself out and come get me. I rode in that same car a month later when he came to pick me up. We were both quiet on the ride home, unsure of how to interact with each other. I tried to look busy with staring out the window.

And finally we rode in the Honda to the courthouse on the day we got divorced. We sat in the car after a judge declared our marriage was over, and we both cried. I wiped my nose on Dunkin Donuts napkins I dug out of the glove compartment. We promised to always love each other.

So, yes, Little Brother, the Honda certainly is full of memories. 

But, my divorce has made me really good at detaching emotion from things of monetary value. Our condo quickly became an asset to unload, not my married home. My beautiful engagement ring, which I took off almost a year ago now, would help pad my savings account and fund my right hand ring, not a sign of the promises and future that were not meant to be. Our king size bed is a good quality piece of furniture, not The Bed of Constant Rejection, as I once called it, and I now love sleeping in it alone. Inanimate objects have no soul, no luck, no intentions. They are just things. When I need to, I now know I can strip objects of my feelings so I can make practical financial decisions.

As of today, I officially own the Honda. With the sunroof open, I will drive and enjoy my new purchase.

Do you have things that belonged to your ex? Do those objects make you think of your ex, or are you able to detach the memories?
Super Sunday Sync


  1. It's really great that you can detach yourself from things. I always get emotionally attached to people and to material things and that's why it's hard for me to get rid of stuff...I've been selling things that I associate with the X since we decided to break up and it is hard, but feels great at the same time.

  2. My memories of things attached to someone are different than yours, but powerful just the same. For example, I wish I had my grandma's dishes. Not the ones she used for good meals/company, the ones we used commonly. Those remind me of her. I have one thing of hers, the sewing machine she taught me to sew on, and I haven't opened the box it was mailed in years ago. I hope it is in one piece, but I can't bring myself to open it. Still, I am so very glad to have it.

    Enjoy your sweet new ride! And thank you for linking up to Super Sunday Sync.

  3. I really used to be like that, but age and the divorce in particular has made me change. Though, I admit that I still have some things, like jewelry, from my ex that I know I'll never wear or use, but I can't quite get rid of them yet.

  4. I have plenty of things that I have strong emotional attachments to. Some things though it's best to get rid of -- your grandma's sewing machine totally not being one of them!

  5. All of the furniture I now have was once "ours" but I don't have any strong memories attached to them. I have our bed and, frankly, I haven't thought of it as "our bed" or "our marital bed" in many years so it's been easy to dismiss any memories or feelings that may have been there. I'm more inclined to attach to memories of sounds, smells, and physical feelings (warm sun on skin, cool spring/fall breezes, the way snow looks & sounds when it's falling in fat flakes, etc) than I am toward inner feelings. The detachment feels good. I dislike clutter and don't like to save things that have no purpose (which is why I genuinely do not like receiving stuffed animals or non-useful gifts).

  6. I read someplace that after a divorce you should even get rid of stuff like your bed sheets. I'm like, that's crazy, my sheets are nice! What's harder for me now is driving through the town that we used to live in or going to restaurants we used to like. For me, the most of the "stuff" that was ours is just "stuff."

  7. you write beautifully!

    It's not the marital "stuff" that gets me, it's the shared music...
    I miss having him to see my favorite bands with. Most guys in my age group haven't heard of them, or gave up going to concerts years ago

  8. Thanks Sharona!
    Music can be so powerful for stirring up memories. Oddly, there's very little music I associate with Max. He had this thing about not wanting music on when were were in the car together (weird, right?), and otherwise our music tastes were fairly different.