Sometimes a man longs for the life he had before marriage, the house, and the kids filled his days. Back to the time before everything was about possession (both getting and keeping them). If that sounds like you then I am here to help. I have discovered the secret on how to recapture the days of your youth, a time where the future was still unwritten. Want to know the secret?
It's as simple as that -- you get divorced and all that stuff goes away. Well, not really goes away, but it certainly changes. You still have the kids and you still have the house (paying for, not living in) and you still have the wife (now ex, and still paying for). But much like those early days of your twenties, you have no money, you have no place to live, and all of your clothes are in a duffel bag sitting next to you in your ten-year old car that has fast-food containers stacked in the backseat like a really sad game of JENGA.
After your initial separation, the first thing you will need to do is find a place to live. You may have the option of moving back in with your parents but, if you ever want to get laid again, rule that out. I was lucky in that respect when I separated. A friend had a condo she was trying to sell, and it had been empty for months.
"If you cover the monthly mortgage payments, you can stay until I sell it," she told me over the phone, then reassured me that I would probably be there a long time since, "I'm having a really hard time selling it."
Did I say I was lucky?
Two days after I moved in, my friend called again. She had just sold the condo but ensured me that I had a few weeks before I had to move out. So I had that going for me.
When I was married, besides the house I was now thrown out of, we owned a two-family house in Bound Brook, New Jersey that we were trying to sell and currently rented out. Even though I was soon to be homeless, I did own two homes, neither of which I was able to live in.
Again, I got lucky.
Before moving out of my friend's condo, we did sell the two-family and the upstairs tenants moved out shortly thereafter. The new owners let me move into the now-empty apartment and I was soon paying rent for a house that I used to own.
Since all your old stuff is still comfortable and warm and living with your ex-wife and the kids, you have to get new stuff. And by new stuff I mean someone else's old stuff. I was able to get some of my own old stuff back -- like the 500 pound monster of a television that was living in my basement, under Christmas ornaments and discarded boxes of 8-tracks and high school trophies. This television was actually the one I owned in my twenties. It had no choice -- it was coming with me (welcome back, old friend).
Milk crates are the universe tool -- in the seventies they held my record collection -- this century a half dozen held up my behemoth of a television set.
A few months had passed since I first separated from my wife, and I started dating a woman about the same time me and the television moved into this apartment. She had a very nice house (which her ex-husband was paying for) so I enjoyed going over there if for no other reason but to feel like an adult again. Divorce is like this giant game of musical chairs. Each time the music stops you hopefully end up in a house that some other guy (who's playing the same game you are), is paying for. I'm not looking forward to the day the music stops and I end up standing by the punch bowl, alone, while the game goes on without me.
My new girlfriend also had an almost-brand-new king-size mattress that she was going to get rid of so I immediately claimed possession. We tied it to the roof of her minivan and headed over to my new-old place.
The house in Bound Brook was over a hundred years old. Built well before the idea that at some point you would have to drag a full-size mattress and box spring up the narrow staircase, with the low-hanging ceiling, and the almost impossible to maneuver forty-five degree turn at the top of the landing in order to get that bed into that apartment.
There is a universal truth, one that spans the ages -- if you and your girlfriend struggle for hours getting a mattress into your apartment, splashing it onto the bare wood floor of your empty living room, you are going to have sex.
Enough said, let's move on.
In order to get more stuff, without spending money you don't have, you learn not to be shy when someone says, "Hey, I have an old couch you can have." I got a couch and love seat from my ex-sister-in-law, a dining room table, and some framed pictures from friends to make the place appear livable. I even got more of my own old stuff back -- a bedroom set that my ex didn't want any more since she had just bought a whole new room full of furniture (where does she get the money?).
There is a bright side to all this -- eventually you will have a place you can call home, where the kids can come over on weekends and holidays, and that becomes the new normal. It took me a while to learn that it was not a competition between my ex-wife and me as to what we provided to the kids. Although, I do have a blog where I can air out all my complaints, so I win.
So this is the sequel to my life. If it were a movie I would call it, "My Life - Part II: Electric Boogaloo."
And as tough as it is to watch that movie of my life sometimes, it's still better than Godfather III.