CAT ABOUDARAI walk into my parent’s house, laundry in hand, hangover impaired. I don’t quite register the Post-it note on the rug, at first. All it says is Susan. I put down the laundry and rub my head. "Why the hell is there a Post-it on the rug?"
It's not the only one. I follow the trail of yellow around the house, and see Post-its on everything — couches, vases, frames, beds, appliances, what have you. Some say my name. Most read Susan. Very few say Dad. Everything separate, succinct. So this is what a marriage comes down to: Post-its.
Mom takes me by the arm, and leads me through the house, closet by closet. I am to decide what of my childhood is coming with me. For god's sake, all I want to do is my laundry. Then I realize that this is definitely the last time I do laundry at home.
I'm going to need therapy for this little outing.
Dad comes into the room, pokes his head in to see what is being rummaged through. He and I wear the same exhausted stare. Then he walks away. Mom's energy seems surreal. So much to do you know! I'm exhausted to begin with; by the time I leave, I'm just stupid tired — crying to love songs on the car stereo on the drive home.
The day has been quite painful, and the hangover does not help. The Gatorade and Advil don't begin to alleviate the hurt. They do taste good, though — orange-flavored, bio-engineered energy drinks and candy-coated drugs are good things.
I first heard my parents were getting divorced when I was 3. By 5, I was calling Dad a bastard, much to Mom's satisfaction. I’m now 25. It's taken awhile for things to come to a head, and not for lack of trying. I still don’t believe it's happening. You prepare for something all your life, and it's a shock when you still aren't prepared when it happens. I mean, it's taken my parents this long to grow up; I'm shocked they even took that step to being adults.
I'm feeling really misplaced, too. I've been the parent for over 20 years. I'm out of this job now, and part of my identity has been stripped without my consent or blessing. It's baffling. I don't know what to think, and all I really feel is abandoned and overwhelmed. It's easier to deny the truth, but there it is: the mediation, the divorce papers, not seeing Dad for months at a time. Finally, the house being sold.
Mom thinks a divorce party will bang the door shut on 34 years of marriage. Typical, everything is worth celebrating in our family. Last year, Chris and I tried to do our photo Christmas cards in front of a sign that said REHAB. That's where we spent last Christmas. Mom and Dad couldn't come, so Christmas consisted of me, Chris, my god-sister, and lots of chocolate and cigarettes. We wanted to hold up bottles of root beer next to the rehab sign, just to show change can happen. Life sucks, huh? Well cheers to tears!
Seriously, though, a divorce party? What would the theme be? How about the mood? Would my parents have to give back wedding gifts? I don’t think Emily Post's Etiquette has tackled this topic just yet. I would definitely have to attend, being a central figure of the family, and I would probably have to make a toast. Yes, I would have to be drunk. It would be the only way to make it through such an atrocious day.
I hate the fact that my family is failing before my eyes; the last thing I want to do is celebrate it. If the Post-its are any indication of how upsetting this whole affair is making me, a theme divorce party would surely send me head-long into banshee wails. Fucking Post-its. That's how divorce is etched into my head, fucking Post-its.