April 19, 2008

To my new friend.

It sucks going through a divorce. There’s nothing pleasant about it and it’s a tough row to hoe no matter how you slice it.
Bucking up and keeping a smile on your face when dealing with your ex-partner and keeping it together for the kids is the real tightrope act and doesn’t make any of it easier. In fact, it makes it so much bloody harder.

A little story.
I remember the first few weeks on my own. My little house was nearly empty. I let my ex take nearly everything. Not out of martyrdom but because she had the kids, I wanted them to have as normal a life as possible and I had the house (way too complicated to go into here).
I think I just had a couch, a little tv from boxes of stuff that had been in storage during our marriage. In those first bleak days, I remember turning my little tv up really loud to drown out the echoes of my kid’s voices that I heard when they weren’t around.
I turned their room into a little stuffed animal shrine in anticipation for their semi-weekly weekend stays. I assessed my material needs and slowly started to buy necessary items while licking my financial wounds. But it seemed like the emptiness was vast. I spent a lot of time out with friends before coming home late at night and turning the tv up loud to chase away the silence.

One day, I was rummaging through the storage items and ran across my ancient reel-to-reel recorder and a stack of tapes. I hadn’t thought about it in nearly a decade. I used to make audio tape collages and would experiment with sounds and tape manipulation. I had thought I had gotten rid of that stuff and also the desire to make audio art. Dads don’t do that kind of stuff, do they?
Out of boredom and curiosity, I spooled up one of the reels – the oldest looking one. After years of storage and neglect at my ex-inlaw’s storage room, the old tape machine didn’t seem to want to come to life again. It slowly came around as its vacuum tubes started glowing.

Suddenly, from the tape came a glorious noise that I thought had been lost nearly 10 years earlier. It was a bizarre, one-shot improvisational recording I had made with a guitar and digital delay device, played over the top of some audio from the tv. It was perfect and could never be duplicated in a million years, but over the ensuing years I thought it had been lost or accidentally recorded over. I used to lament the loss of that particular recording and subsequently quit doing audio art altogether. But here it was! It was music to my ears and filled the seemingly-cavernous empty room with gorgeous noise! I remember jumping around my living room with idiot-glee.
I found my lost self on a piece of oxidized 1/4″ tape.
I had reconnected with my past and remembered who I was.

From then on out, I knew everything was going to be alright.

You’re going to be alright, too.



  1. What a beautiful post. It resonates a lot with how I felt during the initial stages of my separation and divorce.

    I add my voice — you are going to be alright.

  2. Chardman – thanks for that story. I’m reading a novel about a similar subject right now, family breaking apart, divorce etc., Anne Tyler’s “The Amateur Marriage”. Don’t know if she is very famous in the US (she once won the Pulitzer Price), and you know her work. First heard about her in an interview with film director John Waters, he’s from Baltimore like Tyler.

    Your find of that tape seems like a symbol for something different – if it were a dream (and I would be a Freudian, which I’m not!)… now – any chance for us unluckilies to hear that tape? Krapp’s last tape? 😉

    Wish you more jumping around like that!

  3. Thanks Lucky, Dolph!
    It’s still tough after all these years to see someone going through it.
    It helps to tell them that you do find peace and happiness again and that – if you and your ex-love keep your heads – your kids will be alright, too.
    Lucky, a good chunk of what I recovered on that tape was included on my album/dumping ground that I have on the page of this blog entitled “Casual Contemporary Page“.
    I would tell you which song, but I can’t remember for sure and it would be anti-climatic anyway.

  4. I’ve never been married but I know exactly what it’s like to rediscover who you are. By the way, if you need any blank reel tapes just let me know – I’ve got a few hundred that came with a deck I bought and they’re going to wind up in the trash.

  5. I think a lot of people find themselves at similar points in their lives when they are in a major transition or chapter marker in life.

    I’ll bet anything you’d have on tape would be pretty damn interesting!

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