Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well, who am I to keep you down. – Stevie Nicks, “Dreams”
This was not an easy essay to write, which is why I put it off for as long as I did. But the events of the last few months made the writing of it an absolute necessity; there’s been a lot of gossip, and a lot of speculation, and I’m sure many of you have suspected something like this for some time now. I don’t know how to say this in any way but plainly, so here goes: My husband and I are getting a divorce.
Now, this isn’t as sudden a development as you might think; a wise and perceptive person might have seen the signs as early as 2007, within a year of my retiring from sex work. Maybe my retirement changed some of the subtle alchemy of my appeal; maybe it was just the Coolidge Effect. Or maybe it’s just that, though I’m an easy person to love, I’m damned hard to live with. I have a tendency to be moody, paranoid and set in my ways; I’m also emotionally intense, incredibly stubborn and often unreasonable, and I tend to get my way all the time without directly demanding it. He had fallen in love with a glamorous, mysterious enchantress, and perhaps once the bloom was off the rose he began to realize what a damned thorny plant he was holding in his lacerated hand. And once the money troubles started again the following year (due to the economic crash), I reckon he felt enough was enough; he asked me for a divorce in October of 2008.
To say that I did not take it well would be putting it mildly; “psycho” would probably be closer to an honest appraisal. The only thing I have to say in my defense is, consider how you would feel if you were a woman who had made her living by being attractive to men, and the one man you had broken your own rules for suddenly rejected you. I felt as though I had been kicked in the teeth, and reacted accordingly. He did not expect such an extreme reaction on my part (because men, bless your little hearts, never do understand women even after spending years with one), and backed down from the request; once again I had got my way. We spent a stormy two years until he asked for divorce again just a few months after I started this blog; that time we went to marriage counseling, and for about a year and a half it really looked like things were improving (my interview with him was near the beginning of this stretch of reconciliation).
But by the end of 2012 the relationship started to unravel again, this time in slow motion. We didn’t argue at all; in fact we were generally quite friendly on the phone, and he always enthusiastically supported my work. But he had maintained a second residence (for work) since the summer of 2010, and began to spend much more time there than he did at home. He was here for only two separate one-week periods in 2013, one in April and the other in July; he made excuses about why he couldn’t come home for Christmas that year, and the only time I spent with him in the whole of last year was a single night when I toured through San Diego. So it really wasn’t much of a surprise when he asked for a divorce again about a month after I got home from the tour, and this time I agreed. He insisted on giving me terms more generous than any I had a right to expect; he wasn’t even in a rush, and suggested we do the actual paperwork sometime in the next year (we’ve since agreed to do it this coming July).
Needless to say, I did a lot of deep thinking about what was happening; I was upset and relieved at the same time, and what finally helped me to accept it was the realization that, though I still love him, it was his friendship I would miss the most, and that by being a big girl about it and sincerely wishing him only happiness, that perhaps I wouldn’t actually have to lose it after all. That’s what it looks like is happening; he’s happier and friendlier on the phone than he’s been in at least two years, and I no longer feel the sullen resentment toward him I’ve felt for seven years. As soon as I let go of a failed marriage, I found my favorite client again, and who knows? The stage of our relationship yet to come might actually be the best one for both of us. Since I fully expect to mention him from time to time, I’ll call him “Matt” from here on out; I obviously can’t call him “my husband” any more, and since I now have two exes I asked him which pseudonym he wanted me to use.
After the end of my first marriage, I fended off would-be lovers with the fierceness of Athena until I found myself; this time, the act of letting go was itself an act of self-actualization, and Athena ceded the field to Aphrodite. My trip to Seattle was, as I’ve already said, powerful and transformative; I knew it was the beginning of a new book of my life, and I knew that it was right and good to be open to whatever it brought with it. And one of those things, much to my surprise, was love. I’ve mentioned Jae, a sex worker and activist from Seattle, quite a lot since November; what I haven’t mentioned is that we are much more than friends. We are, in fact, lovers, and a large part of the reason I’ve come to Seattle is to live with her; in a few years, after my business here is done, she’ll be moving out to the country with me. And in the meantime, she’ll be traveling with me on some of my trips, so many of y’all will get a chance to meet her. Yes, we got serious very quickly, but that’s not at all unusual in lesbian relationships (What does a lesbian bring on the second date? A U-haul trailer.) Don’t be surprised, dear readers; it’s not like I’ve made a secret of my bisexuality, and if one excludes commercial encounters I’ve actually been with more women than men.
I can’t say that’s all there is to tell right now, because it wouldn’t be true; it is, however, all I want to tell right now and all that I think I should tell right now. I apologize if the narrative has been a bit less well-organized than usual; it was, as I said above, rather difficult to write. I’m sure many of you will want to express your sympathy for the divorce, and of course I appreciate that. But as I said above, this was a long time coming, and Matt and I are both relieved that we can stop inadvertently hurting each other. In short, three people are happier today than they were in October, and in the big scheme of things that’s something to be thankful for.