What event or place stood out for you in 2013?

ThinkKit Prompt 12/27

My divorce hearing was scheduled for August 9, 2013. But it didn’t happen.

Originally, the hearing was scheduled for April of this year. My attorney called one day to ask if it was okay with me to reschedule, since she had a conflict. Being the accommodating soul that I am, I said sure, and naively assumed the new date would be in April or, at worst, May. But August?!

I had left my husband in April 2012 and moved with our three children into a two-bedroom apartment where I slept on a futon in the living room. The only motivator for me to file for divorce instead of just remaining separated was so we could buy a house where each of us could have our own bedroom. After being told that I could not buy a house until my ex and I sold or refinanced our jointly owned residence (which he did not want to do), I had found a mortgage broker who could get me into a mortgage provided I could show 1) that my ex had been paying the mortgage on that house without any financial assistance from me and 2) a final divorce decree showing that the court had granted him ownership of the house.

I didn’t want to be a divorced person, the sort who breaks her promises, treads on her own dreams and those of her loved ones. And in the days leading up to the final hearing I was sad, regretful, maudlin, morose — mourning the marriage I was preparing to murder. I dove full force into every emotion I could access. The evening before the hearing, I ran 8 miles, exhausting my body in hopes of being able to sleep that night. On the morning of the hearing, I prayed, I breathed, I felt sick. I went to work and stared uselessly at my computer.

When my attorney and I arrived at the courthouse that afternoon, however, the judge was not there. He had been called away to handle a family emergency. I was not prepared for this scenario; it came out of nowhere and knocked the wind out of me. The judge’s staff announced we’d have to reschedule.

I lost it. Tears, snot, my dignity — it all went running down my face. The sweet elderly court reporter tried to comfort me. “It’s okay, dear, we’ll get another date on the calendar.”

“But I can’t buy a house until the divorce is final,” I sobbed, no longer trying to be an adult about it.

Suddenly, in a rush of uncontrived emotion, I discovered that I was not really all that sad anymore about the marriage ending; I just desperately wanted to sleep in a bed, with walls and a door around it. And that’s why I was crying. It was a relief, to finally be moving toward something I wanted, instead of away from something I didn’t.

The court reporter suggested a few dates. To each one, my attorney replied, “No, that one won’t work for me.” I sat dumbly while this went on for about 10 minutes. Finally, in a voice I did not recognize, with an assertiveness I had never experienced, I said to my attorney, “I’ve been waiting since April because of your schedule. Can’t you move something around to make this date work?” It felt crazy. Not quite rude. Terribly direct. I held my breath and waited for the response, which I assumed would be anger.

“Yes, I think I can do that,” she said matter-of-factly. She and the court reported solidified the time. I wondered for a moment if she hadn’t been doing this on purpose, to try to goad me into standing up for myself. The new date was set for August 20.

On the eve of August 20, I was neither sad nor regretful, nor did I have to run to tire myself out. I slept quite nicely. I was only a little anxious — mostly eager — as I drove to the courthouse. The hearing took all of 25 minutes. As he signed the final order, the judge wished me well. I was elated, breathless, free. A teenager on the last day of school. I thanked my attorney, grabbed the signed document, and dashed out of the courthouse.

Back at my office, my co-workers presented me with a “Happy D-Day” cupcake: white frosting with a sugar bride on top, the groom having been removed. I emailed the final order to my mortgage broker, breathed a sigh of relief, and enjoyed the heck out of that cupcake.

I closed on my house two weeks later. My sons and I each have our own bed in our own room, with walls and doors and everything. Even more importantly, that crazy assertive terribly direct voice? That’s my voice now.