This is a falling out of love story. It happens slowly, incrementally. It happens so slowly you barely notice it.
It happened to me after 28 years of marriage to the boy next door.
His name was William. He was witty and smart and wrote poetry. We would sit on our front lawns talking long after the sun went down. I asked him out first — to the Queen of Hearts dance at my all girls high school. But our first date was to to the movies to see Easy Rider. It was 1970.
We were very hippie-dippy, very crunchy granola. William and I both had long hair down to our shoulders. We both wore “granny glasses” with wire frames. We both bought our jeans and flannel shirts at Sunny Surplus.
We spent our Saturdays at beatnik bookstores and cruising head shops. We’d go to foreign films at the Biograph Theater and drink pitchers of beer at the Tombs — a bar so loud you could barely hear yourself speak.
Just a year older than me, William was my best friend not just my boyfriend. And being just a year younger, I skipped my senior year at Immaculata so that we could matriculate together at Catholic U.
William and I got married in a little civil service at the courthouse. We set up household in a tiny little efficiency on Connecticut Avenue. We even worked together at bilingual daycare center in Adams-Morgan.
It seemed we were meant to be.
I was happily, happily hyphenated for 28 years as Joani Peacock-Clark. Together we juggled jobs, school, three children, friends, family, vacations, church, and just about anything else that you can think of. We juggled things beautifully for a very long time.
William was a stay at home dad and a fabulous cook, and he did all the grocery shopping. I was the career mom who was very good at doing the dishes. And when it came to parenting Zach, Colleen, and Jacob, we were very simpatico — at least on the things that mattered most.
But the last two years of our marriage were bloody awful, god awful. All the things that we had been juggling came crashing down on our heads. And just like Humpty Dumpty, we couldn’t quite put our marriage back together again.
“I love you.” became just something we said but no longer did. Some might consider my marriage a failure. I certainly felt like a failure for a very long time. But it was death that we were dealing with. Our marriage had died.
Marriages die. Relationships die. Some by neglect and some by design. Some by both.
In 2003, I signed the divorce papers. And this Peacock, after 28 years, uncoupled herself from the Clark.
Uncoupling is a railroad term. Circa 1985, The Potomac Yards in Alexandria were the largest railroad switching yards in the country. Struggling to fall asleep in our Delray Bungalow at 212 E. Windsor, we could hear the train cars crashing in the middle of the night. We’d hear the cars coming together and being pulled apart. It sounded like bombs going off. It sounded of wrenching, tearing, coupling, thrashing, and crashing. Passionate and tortuous lovemaking and hearts breaking in the middle of the night.
Now I have only been married once but I have been divorced many times.
I uncoupled from William in 2003.
I uncoupled from a soul destroying boss in 2005.
I have uncoupled from two different life depleting congregations.
I have uncoupled from my toxic and twisted younger sister.
I have uncoupled from a dark and dysfunctional friend.
I have uncoupled from a therapist who thought she knew me better than I know myself.
I have uncoupled from a lover who loved me in words but never in deed.
And I am happier for it, healthier for it, and stronger for it.
Uncoupled, I am on on my own but not alone. And I am not at all lonely.
Uncoupled, I am free to fall in love again and to be loved again. I am open to love wherever I may find it. Professional, personal, playful, passionate or platonic.
I am not looking to get married again. (You could not pay me enough money to get married again!) I am looking for someone who might like to try and keep up with me. Someone who drinks as deeply from the well of life as I do. Someone with a sense of adventure, a desire for intimacy. Someone who reads. Someone who laughs. A partner in crime.
Should this someone come along, that would be lovely. Should this someone also like to share my bed from time to time that would be lovelier still.
Maybe we will find one another walking the Rock & Roll Half Marathon, or drinking coffee at Killer ESP, or hiking Roosevelt Island, or campaigning for Hilary. Maybe we’ll meet at a Story District 2nd Tuesday show, or in the stacks at the library, or in the pool at the rec center, or standing in line at Trader Joe’s. Maybe on a road trip. In March, I am headed to Austin, in April to Denver, and in October to Ireland. Who knows?
I’m game. I am open.
Sometimes you have to fall out of love to find it again.
Sometimes you have to fall out of love to be free.