My ex has clearly taken a trip to the Land of Oz, or the Land of Us, that mythical terrain where everything is moonlight and roses and we get along like new lovers because he recently mentioned that he misses living with me and the kids. Now, I understand if he is lonely or nostalgic or even romanticizing me, but I am truly floored that the part of “us” that he misses is cohabitation. I mean…that was the worst part of it for me (except for the way he kept our house spotless).
My divorcee friends and I often talk about how one of the most enjoyable aspects of divorced living is having your own space again, or at least part-time because we have the kids with us a lot too. It’s nice to call the shots around the house, to leave things where you want to, to not have to worry what someone else will say, to listen to the music you like (or keep it quiet) and to know that no one will eat the ingredients you purchased to make a special dish (or drink the last beer). I love having the bed to myself (of course when the kids aren’t in it with me). I’d be eager to hear my readers’ tales of domestic bliss because I just can’t get excited about the notion of cohabitation at this time because I adore having a house of my own.
I used to love living with my husband, but Virginia Woolf is right. A woman needs a room of her own to think, write, dream, scream, do yoga and talk on the phone to her friends in peace. And a man needs a “man cave.” I have a 55-year-old bachelor friend who is renovating his condo, and he showed me pictures of where the man cave is going to go. When I asked him why a childless bachelor would need such a space, he said that every guy needs a man cave. Well, that was a contributory factor to the downfall of my marriage. Hugo didn’t have a man cave. And we knew it. At the time we discussed how we could add just one room somewhere, like over the garage, so that he could get some peace and quiet. My dad suggested that we buy an Airstream trailer and park it in our large backyard, an idea that we humorously scoffed at. Now I realize that it was a brilliant idea, but like many of my dad’s creative notions, it was an idea before its time.
Now I fantasize about sharing a duplex with a partner (or maybe a really good friend). I could have the benefit of proximity and intimacy but with the opportunity to retreat to my own space when I need it. Wasn’t there a time (the Medieval days?) when men and women had separate bedrooms? That might be a good idea. Somehow, in some way, the independence and identity of each partner must be maintained, and physical space is an essential part of that equation.
So when Hugo said he was “kind of” wishing that we still lived together, I told him that he had to rethink that. If he harbored any serious thoughts of reconciliation (which frankly, I don’t think he really does), he would at least have to date me first, just like any other suitor. He hadn’t considered that point. This is the edge that the new guys have. Unlike my former husband, the man I was with for thirteen years, they know that they have to woo me to get anywhere. A girl can’t rush into sharing her space with someone, now can she? Start with a sleepover for Christ’s sake. And, if you really do want to cohabitate with me, you’d better bring an Airstream.