The Last time I saw Dick

The last time I spoke to my husband was a year ago, he contacted me- first time since the separation hearing- because he got a letter informing him that he had to pay property tax on our flat, and it wasn’t fair. As I read his name, there was a flood of emotion. Not hatred, not hatred. Just the memory of when his name went with mine, when we were tied up together. His name, his name, the name I was forced to sign after my own on the act of sale when we bought the apartment, even though I didn’t take his stupid name because I didn’t want to, and I already had my own double barrelled name anyway. But they were all men around the table.

There was the ancient white haired notary, impeccable, ivory hands like a pope’s, latest in a long line of king’s lackeys, Oh the money that man skims off the top. The cream of my life’s earnings. Then my father, shaking hands and knocking his fist on the table, asking if it’s mahogany, one piece? What a table. One solid piece of wood. One of these for the office, eh? Waggling his eyebrows at me. So alien to us, the legal, the formal world. He’s a businessman, there’s a certain amount of respect for him even though he’s scruffy and unconventional with bitten cuticles and a battered leather briefcase. Me, dressed up nice, makeup, well groomed for an Irish woman but not quite up to Italian standards. I was just a little girl to them, playing house, peering over the shoulders of the men. And there we were, my dad, my Papi, who was getting more estranged from me every day, and my husband, and then the owner, a weasly man waving his hand sickly to indicate all the properties he owned, who regarded our odd little family with some disgust. Foreigners, and an Italian who didn’t drive or dress in the style he could clearly afford to. Those men, they just looked at me blankly as I said I didn’t want to sign his name after mine on all the documents.

Why should I?  I elected not to take his name when we married. Isn’t a signature something important, something expressive? How could I SIGN a name that isn’t mine? They just looked at me and said “that’s how we do things in Italy.” I said no, it’s not my name. There were so many pages in that document, each to be signed. Each page. And it wasn’t my name. But my dad said this isn’t Ireland, this is how it goes here. I bristled. The little notary added, trying to help, trying to move it all along, because his time was more money than I could imagine, he said “it’s so we know who you are, who the document is talking about.” Without my husband’s name at the end, presumably, I could have been anyone, anyone. I wonder if an unmarried couple buys a house, how the hell anyone knows whose name that is, with the female name, the name unattached to any man mentioned. Who is she, if not someone’s wife?

But this feminist blather, I couldn’t even begin to verbalise. I was outnumbered, and making too much of it, so I swallowed the bile and gracelessly signed around 80 times, 80 times, like I’d been a bad girl, 80 times to drill it into me, Abby Natascha Di Gianni Flicker in Garcia Ramirez, over and over as the men watched until I had hot tears stinging my eyes, and I fell into a place where the words had a beat, and it drummed through my fingers, Abby Natascha Di Gianni Flicker in Garcia Ramirez, again and again and again and my fingers cramped and seized up, it wasn’t fair, nothing was fair, I was buying a lousy little apartment that needed work, and I was the only one of us with any money at all, and I was putting my every penny into the notary fees, to pay the little man, and the estate agent fees, so Graziella could have her Jimmy Choos, the odious woman, almost deformed by her sense of style. Blue mascara and perma tan and frosted lips, and everything so bright and lifted, a sad caricature of youth.

All my money, my grandparents’ generous gift to me, into this apartment with this man, and I loved him still then, but then I know that I had learnt to love alongside hate, too. Stubbornly, because I didn’t want to let go of love wherever I found it, it was too intoxicating. And I sort of always hated him, from the beginning, when he was awful and cruel and used me. And made me feel stupid, or invalid, or like a silly woman, when I was so much cleverer than him. Perhaps that was why he did it.

So I handed over the money, all those thousands, I never saw money like that before or since, and the notary thanked me but it was nothing to him. It was just some kids playing house, plankton, and he had such big fish. But it was all the money I ever had. And then three years later, a year ago, maybe, he emails me, this man whose name I signed with mine, his name brings me back to that table made from one piece of mahogany and impregnated with the metallics of sweat and money. And after his name, after I let myself float off into venomous memory, it subsides, and I can read the message.

We haven’t spoken in so long, it’s surreal to converse with him. Scary, because for so long he’s inhabited a world that’s unchangeable, fixed- that is, the past, but now he’s writing to me and I remember how volatile and poisonous he became, so I’m very aware that this exchange now is not fixed, this is all being written as I write, as I choose my reply. Choose carefully. He holds some power still, to fuck with my life. So I read and reread, and think before I type. He says they’re asking him for property tax, but it’s not fair, because he doesn’t even live in the apartment, so why should he pay? Oh, fair. That word. What is fair? Who teaches us the word, even? What use does it have? The last time you could judge a thing to be fair, I believe it was a birthday party and somebody was cutting the cake with Pythagoras theorems and a spirit level. I point my index finger at the computer screen and its neighbours squeeze tight into a fist. It’s a strange gesture, I’ve never made it before. But I must be physical, or I’ll burst something in my head. My jaw is clenched too.

Oh you you you… Not fair. Not fair to leave me with the whole mortgage, and all those old bills, and never pay, knowing if you don’t I will, and if I don’t, my father has to, because he’s our guarantor. And all the money I put in, and all the money my dad put in, and then you say it’s not fair I get to live in the apartment.

When I told my lawyer, the bitch with the sexless frame stamped in Versace, when I told her he moved out, and never paid me another cent, she told me firmly, you’re a fool. she didn’t think much of my dad or I. She was polite to him, and talked to me like I hadn’t just got married too young, but more like I’d come over from Estonia and given my passport and money to a man in a van who claimed he was a modelling agent. She glared at me as I spoke, her jaw sharp enough to castrate, and I never knew if I was giving her too much information or too little, but she thought I was a damned fool for not trying to get anything from him when we split, and not just that, but to lose money too.

I asked her if I could sue him for the money he owed me, but she said no, there was no point, it would cost more to sue than I’d get back. And he could just skip the country anyway. That wasn’t fair. Debt is an awful thing, it hangs around your neck like a bag of rocks, and it hurts because it’s heavy but also you remember when you picked up those rocks, and you remember that you made that choice for yourself, back then, and you didn’t care it would hurt now because it was good then. It was hard to be stuck in Italy for a year on my own, with a separation, having lost my closest ally in the country, and custody of all our friends, and with my little sisters wanting to cheer me up but lacking the tools, because they were too young. And with that debt, but it was worse still because it wasn’t my debt, and I hadn’t picked up the rocks.

They were his, him, the man with the name, the name they slapped on me, and he left when he wanted, he moved on as soon as he was ready, he met a new girl, kept the visa from our marriage, met his new girl. An Italian. She’s older than me, less attractive, simpler looking. The kind of girl a man would go crazy to love, because she’d make him happy. Not me. I don’t make men happy. I drag them down, and up, and down again. I’m sweet sometimes but then maybe too sweet, and then I’m all claws and pathos and I need, need need. And I’m not sure of anything but I’m passionate about it all, passionately optimistic, but nihilistic, and obsessive and compulsive and impulsive and lazy and hopeless and full of scorn. A woman like that, all simplicity, grounded, real; god, I’ve looked down on that kind of wman but she could make a man happy.

I don’t feel jealous, no, he’s a stranger now, I look at his face and I don’t even know if I remember anything about him, anything I used to know, his secrets, his face, the lines… Oh yes, but there were lines under his eyes, in a sort of network, I remember looking at them, scrutinising his face and thinking he’s older than me, he’ll die first, and I’ll be so lonely without him. But that was another face, and another version of me. there isn’t a grain left of the girl who loved him or cared if he lived or died. I’m not jealous, not of that petty, greedy, mean bully. I’m not jealous. It just feels sad, sometimes, that the people who aren’t good enough for me, supposedly, well, they’re much more capable of finding happiness. Simplicity, and perhaps humility. I find it harder now,because I want so much, and I start to wonder if all my self satisfaction isn’t just self soothing, and maybe i don’t have anything to offer a man after all.

Maybe I’m just young, and men are attracted to me, and I’m intelligent, so I tell myself I’m this full package, this wonderful woman, too good for most I meet. But I’m lonely, now, sometimes. Not in my own thoughts. It’s the physical space, it starts to feel like time for me to move on, onto someone, try it again, more sensible this time, less of a fool, or a different kind of fool. I’m not jealous he moved on, I’m just sad that he’s better at it than I am, that I’m the one still recalling these moments with anger because he’s the last person to share my life, and I haven’t found someone to fill that space since, not really. And tonight, he wrote to me again, a year since we last exchanged some curt, emotionless words, and tonight he asks not for money, but for information. When are we getting divorced? When can we apply? Can we already? Are we good to go?

It occurs to me, he wants to marry his girlfriend. I tell him October. We’ll need a lawyer. A lady told me we could share one, if it’s amicable. I snorted.

Amicable, like our marriage. He never hit me.

He never hit me. But I took a fucking pummelling.

Tonight I tell him October, and I’m about to say we need a lawyer, but I choose not to. I don’t need to enter a discussion with him now. I can’t bear to let him back into my reality. He’s boxed up, fixed, sealed, he stays the same, in the past. If I engage with him now, I can’t… it’s all old. It’s all been pored over, I’ve woven all my own justifications around the past, processed everything, and now I’m firmly in the right, and I didn’t hurt him, no, he deserved it. And anyway I was hurt too.  And he got a visa, and I got his debt. So it’s all set in stone, and let it rest. Please.

But sooner or later i’ll have to not just engage, but speak face to face with him.

With husband. Dick.

The last time I saw Dick was Italy, two years ago, and I had lost weight and given up smoking and I felt so good and happy to be casting off the things that held me, that saddened me. I wore a blue dress I’d bought before our wedding, that I’d considered getting married in but it was a bit tight and then it got too tight altogether as I put on weight.

I had never worn it before, and he didn’t know it was nearly my wedding dress. But I knew, and it gave me a secret power. I wore it confidently, looking great, looking much better than I looked on my wedding day. I felt better. I felt free, or closer to it than ever. In the pit of my stomach was a little twisted piece of pleasure, because I was wearing a dress I couldn’t wear while we were together, and now I was better, a better version of myself without him. We met outside and walked in, the Palazzo di giustizia, big awful hideous eyesore, reminds me always of the Ministries in 1984. Minitru, Miniluv… We walked past staircase A, B, C… it’s a huge complex. A path runs all around, and it takes ages. Lawyers everywhere. The invisible strings of money and power whipping past as heels clicked neatly. Ball stomping heels.

We made small talk. Waited outside the courtroom, finally were ushered in. An old man, a beautiful old man with crinkled eyes and an appropriately gentle smile for us,  in a little room. He was the judge, apparently. I expected an amphitheatre of a court room. Of course it wouldn’t be that. It was a little office. We sat in rows facing the judge. Mari Angela, my lawyer. Dick. Me. I remembered our wedding day. The stony faced registrar asking do you, and Dick bellowed “ABSOLUTELY.” And I was embarrassed, a little, and annoyed that he did it and not I, and then I was going to be the boring one who said I do.

But the judge read our statement made nine months before when we had really split, and the terms of the separation, which I craned my neck to see because I remembered his tears falling on the page and a sick part of me wanted to see the smudged writing. We agreed and signed, and I signed my own name, and then the judge said you are now legally separated, and I wish you the best of luck. And his eyes were on mine as he said that, and I got a feeling of his wishing me well, specifically me, and his understanding, in those eyes, of what I had escaped from, the sad stifled life. I felt he must see so many couples do what we did, and he must catch these glimpses. But his eyes sought me out, and I thought he recognised me and understood. And I felt the whoosh of freedom, and my mouth stretched out into a grin, and I begged myself to stop grinning, to switch it off, go back to the sombre divorce face, it was so rude, so cruel to grin, god, no, and Dick there looking sad and lost. I couldn’t stop smiling so I smirked, but that was awful too, so I strained and strained and covered my face with a hand and scratched my nose, desperately. But the smile leaked out anyway and I was just grateful my body didn’t break out into a dance, or leap into the air, because it felt like it might have.

Oh, to be truly free. October, October. How long will it take and how much will it cost, to get there?

To finally leave him behind, Dick, his name, his face, his part in my life.

You think someone intelligent made a dumb bitch like this?

Thought I’d do some masochistic youtubeing before bed…

 

I want to smack this bitch upside the creepy smiling face.

 

If she can not believe in evolution because it means humans aren’t as special and loved as she wants them to be…

Can I say calories are a myth too, because if there are really calories in food, then eating too much will make me fat?

 

Really, really stupid argument… dumb broad.

 

Also pissing me off this evening: loads of moths.

Where they come from, I don’t know, but they are in my kitchen up high on the wall where I can’t swat ’em. Every time I streak in for a glass of water (need curtains. Desperately need some fucking curtains) they flutter up around my head like I’m some crackhead disney princess.

Arrghhh gross… I hate moths. They are only tiny moths, I can kill them without feeling too icky, but it annoys be because I can only get one at a time and the rest cop on and fly out of reach.

And also, I have no problem sharing my apartment with a few small moths if they keep to their part of the room (the high part of the ceiling which I am not using) but noooo, they have to swarm around me like I’m their mother and they love me.

They don’t eat my clothes, luckily, they are food moths. They are the kind you find scattered in the flour tub when your stupid husband takes the lid for his lunch tub and he doesn’t think there’s a problem with this, and he doesn’t use flour anyway because all he does is stir fries and bbq.

And then he won’t wash up after I cook, because I dirty so many pots and bowls. YEAH asshole, that’s because I cook shit that’s more exciting than rice with vegetables. Ah it’s ok, I don’t have to deal with him any more and his insensitivity.

I don’t know if I told you guys about this, but towards the end (maybe we were already broken up) he decided to defrost some steaks on the radiator (yes.) and oh guess what was already on the radiator? My favorite soft woolen jumper dress. Really nice dress.

So I had it drying out for the next day, and I get up in the morning and put on my dress and I’m all groggy and brushing my teeth (nah that’s a lie, I have terrible oral hygiene. I was probably trowelling on some slap) and I catch a wiff and I’m like, wtf, why is there a stench of period? And I realised it was me. And I started freaking out that I had developed that actually real disease called dead fish syndrome (I think it’s called that, it is real though) that makes you just constantly stink of something horrible even if you just had a shower. And I was panicking. And then I realised that it was actually blood on the front of my dress. And ugh, where did that come from? And then I went back to the radiator and saw the steaks dripping blood and figured it all out and yes I was relieved but also, really angry.

What kind of asshole does something like that?

Ok I’m getting all uptight about that and it’s ok because we’re not together any more.

I am free.

But also, loooooonely.

 

Oh but wait, before I go down that road AGAIN,

I have actual reason to be in a good mood.

Tomorrow I’m signing up for a pizza making course. And not just some bored housewife kind of evening class, it’s a proper one, that trains you professionally. Like, I’m going to learn how to spin dough up in the air and make proper tasty pizzas and shit.

YAY!

Then I’m really, really going to be able to impress men.

Actually it’s mostly because I really get sick of coming home from Italy and everyone’s all, “ooh you should know how to make amazing pizzas, because you live in Italy!” and yeah, it’s not like you just learn that in due course.

Also, it makes me employable in another sector if I ever get sick of not rummaging frantically in an incredibly hot oven while hungry people grumble near me, and my eyes blink through sweat to decypher blurry short hand on scraps of paper.

And yes, I’ll impress some men, too.

It’s all about building up my portfolio of resourcefulness. Hell yeah I’m still convinced this is where I’ll make my sexual fortune.

I also think I want to learn to play the piano, but I realise if I decide to do that as well, my motivational powers will not stretch and I won’t learn anything, but just pay the full courses up front and stay home miserable and ashamed of myself like what happened with the driving lessons and the sewing classes. (You don’t know about these because they were pre-blog. But yeah I paid for a full course of driving lessons and never went back, and that was a year ago. And the same with sewing classes but I taught myself to sew on my -yeah, quite expensive- sewing machine. Except I’m not very neat, but I was never gonna be so booya, I’m a motherfuckin autodidact. )

So baby steps… baby steps. But I am definitely doing the pizza thing, I SWEAR THIS IS HAPPENING.

It’s not one of those whims like becoming a computer scientist or an evolutionary biologist or a physicist that I quit before I started, those I gave up for a reason- the reason being that the open university had a little test to see if you had enough basic science/maths to go to college… and I don’t.

Damn I used to be good at maths. REAL GOOD.

Fucking differentiation, man. It killed my science career. I just wanted to know what the fuck it was before I learned it off by heart, but no one could give me a straight answer, or maybe my maths teacher did, but I didn’t understand it. I prefer the former reason.

Ok. Anyway. I will keep you posted, like obviously.

And in case you’re wondering where all the people are this week, yeah that’s it. You have literally heard about all my non customer interaction. Except for one or two convos with my dad, that’s it.

Now you see how I churn out so many of these bad boys.

I have no social life.

But hey it’s cool I’m not depressed or anything, I actually really enjoy my own company.

Even my pity parties are off the hook.

Except the sex has gone downhill lately, so I may need to yank out some hairs and get back out there and tolerate some people I don’t really care much for.

Woop woop!

Ok right that’s it I’m getting bored talking to myself now.

Extreme pistachio eating, from an extreme kind of gal

I shouldn’t have bought pistachios.

I went to Lidl on an empty stomach- stupid, stupid girl. Rookie mistake.

Has anyone ever gone into Lidl hungry and not come out with at least one schockoladen snack? I caved and wheedled at myself and bought peanut m&m style snacks for half the price of actual peanut m&ms. I would love to see the jerk who actually buys the brand name m&ms in LIDL when there is NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE except the price. I’d love to give him or her a withering look.

Or a scathing look perhaps? I don’t know if I could actually muster a different look for withering or scathing. I could definitely describe a look I had given as being clearly either one or the other… but it would be lies, because I don’t know how to do a specifically withering or scathing expression. Hmm. Maybe I’d be a shit actor after all…

So peanut M&Ms and a massive bag of pistachios and I can’t stop eating them. (the pistachios) I keep saying, two more… no that one wouldn’t open… two more now, and then… munch munch munch… just a couple more.

It’s like stumbleupon, except stumbleupon doesn’t directly make you fat or cost 6 euros.

Oh man: just got an insane idea for an extreme sport.

Wait for it….

Stumbleupon AND pistachios.

At the same time.

Genius, or retarded?

——–

I started writing this at 7pm.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS.

That was pretty hardcore actually but I honestly feel like the kid who tests if fire really does burn, and what that feels like, and gets a burnt hand, but also kind of understands what it is to be burnt in a more complete sense than the sensible pussy children who just swallowed the fire=bad dogma of their parents. And maybe that kid really, really remembers the lesson he learnt, or develops an irrational fear of fire. Maybe…

I now really, really know that pistachios and stumbleupon are a bad idea. You might have common sense to tell you that, but I have the deep knowledge that comes with experience. Like, I also know you’re a fool to get married at 21, and you might have known that anyway. But don’t be smug, because my experience-knowledge will actually protect me from being blindsided again. You might fall in love and throw caution to the wind, but I damn well won’t pander to my emotions again.

Love- what ever happened to love? Like, why does it become this sappy, cuddly, cutesy bullshit? My world of paranoia doesn’t actually extend to government or corporations or anything… I don’t think Hallmark did it.. it’s probably just what happens to animal instinct and emotion when we’re taken out of the animal environment and have our sexualities hushed up, but still have to publicly find a mate… And it does sell… that brand of love. The giggly schoolgirl love. The stupid teddy bears holding red satin hearts with printed puke-making messages, possibly spelt wrong a-la lolcats.

Real, awesome love is free. It knocks your socks off, and it has nothing to do with flowers. Give your mother flowers to show you love her. She’d like that. Don’t give roses to someone you want to fuck, or I lose respect for you right now. Maybe she wants flowers. Whatever. I don’t care. But don’t get me flowers.

And there, you might get the impression that I’m not romantic. But I am so romantic. And yes, my brain is a little clouded right now with the desire to be swept up in lust, but I do know that I have known love and it was brilliant, and then I strangled it to death with cuddles and pet names and singing and saying I love you. I won’t do that again. I mean sure, I’ll say I love you. But not like some automatic kiss with a closed mouth. Not at the end of a phone call. I’ll say it when I mean it, when it forces its way out of me.

Don’t ever kiss your lover with your mouth closed. Open your eyes, close your eyes… just don’t ever close your mouth.

And here endeth the lecture on love, from the 20 something year old in the throes of a legal separation.

Oh my gourd, why is it night time and I have to be up in the morning?

I have to work, dammit.

Bring home the bacon AND fry it in the pan, thank you women’s lib. (I’m not even using my vote, although I appreciate being free to get a divorce…)

So yeah…… anyway the fridge and freezer was empty, hence the Lidl visit…

It’s a monster of a household appliance. I chose it proudly, I was going to be a hellofa housewife and I would always be able to see all the things in the fridge so I would never have to pull out a jar of jam to find a mouldy wedge of cheese I didn’t know I had left, or a fuzzy beetroot. (I wish I could just buy one beetroot, the other one in the pack always goes off before I feel like beetroot again)

I hate full fridges. And I can’t stand the smell of other people’s fridges. I was determined to succeed where my mother failed, I was going to have an entirely good-smelling, hygenic fridge full of in-date foodstuffs and GAAAAH just remembered I forgot to buy milk. Crap. Knew there was something missing.

Stupid. Anyway. I was talking about the contents of my fridge.

I was recently staying with my buddies in London, and first let me tell you I miss being there in that house with all the sounds of footfalls on the millions of stairs and I miss the constant use of the kettle and the non-stop come dine with me on the tv. But the fridge is smaller than mine, way smaller, and there are like 5 more people using it.

And you can’t find shit in there. Things are stacked jenga-style. The milk sits in the door atop a carton of something or other, and opening the door violently results in milk falling to its death and maybe spattering everywhere.

But in that house you have friends, so you don’t care or think about fridges.

My fridge is now a desperate, solitary monolith in my kitchen. It hums and occasionaly makes strange little noises at the other ridiculous evidences of my brief spell in marital bliss. The dishwasher. The massive fucking dishwasher. The liquidiser that crushes ice, because of all the fucking cocktail parties we were going to be hosting as a fun loving power couple.

Oh man that makes me want to cry, that right there.

Nah not really. I’m not good at sharing power and attention, I can’t be part of a cool supercouple.

I remember the smatterings of parties held in our shithole apartment full of massive, shiny appliances. I didn’t really like anyone very much, and just wound up getting drunk and trying to read which of the men present would have wanted to fuck me if I hadn’t been married to their friend. And eventually getting all shrill and housewifey and yelling at everyone to stop skateboarding in the house, because the neighbours were bound to call the cops. And hiding the big knives from drunk guys daring each other to do the knife dance.

And one time, I got very emotional when one of the guys announced his uptight bitch of a girlfriend had roped him into raising an unwanted baby and getting married, and I hit Amazon and bought them a hardback book on babies by Desmond Morris, my fucking hero, author of Manwatching.

Oh, the not very worthwhile memories of my life as a housewife.

It feels weird now thinking how completely I wrapped myself up in our life. I handed the keys to this guy I barely knew and it took me a year to realise I may not know how to drive, but I’m definitely not a passenger.

It feels like being single, I’m missing something, sure… but filling that gap with another person  (NO I’m not being dirty, I’m being deep now, shut up… oh woah woah see what I did just there… deep… like a VAGINA. Sorry. Sorry. I’m trying to be serious. I’ll stop now.) pushes out a bit of me… so when I was in a relationship, I was complete, but not completely me.

And I know that 50% someone else, 50% myself, is totally shit, even compared to 75% me, and 25% an empty, lonely space.

Or maybe it would be different if I actually used some quality control and got to know the guy first? Nah, I’m just too fucking awesome to compromise.

Anyway… today I put the wine in the high up shelf I always forget about. I have biscuits there that go way back. Ah it’s pointless really…. I’ll remember I have WINE, but at least it’s not on the table every time I streak through the kitchen for some snacks and water.

Feels like progress.

Now if I can just manage to stop eating those fucking pistachios, and maybe get some sleep before this shit becomes a cycle again…

Laters,

MFO