#5 Plan the End

This one time I went to a divorce party.

I know. It’s kinda difficult to keep going–I mean, what else could I possibly say to follow that up? I feel like anything next will be a let down, but I’ll press on.

It was my first semester after I transfered to Michigan. I was noncommittally dating this really nice guy Ethan. Really nice. Deserved better than my certifiably crazy self that semester, but that’s another story.

Ethan was a really nice guy. In the military. But not a prince.

Ethan had a friend a few years older than us who was a grad student. This guy got married right out of college and was getting his first divorce at 26. Ethan and I were standing in the middle of the student union, checking our email, when he goes, “Hey, do you want to go to a divorce party?”

Ethan had received an e-vite. It was trying to be very light-herated about the situation. At the bottom it read, “Yes, we’re being serious! [Because I’m sure many people thought they weren’t. This is a no-joking matter, people–it’s a party matter!] Feel free to come with a friend, significant other, or get in the spirit of things and bring an ex!”

“Do you want to go?” Ethan asked me.

Someone was electronically inviting people to a celebration of the demise of their marriage–if guests really brought their ex’s it could be a whole showcase of failed relationships! Heck yes I wanted to go!

Sadly, I could not bring my own ex because he and Ethan were friends [oops, my bad, I know] but Ethan and I went. When we got there, there weren’t a whole lot of other guests. I don’t remember if it was because we were just not cool enough to be fashionably late or if the rest of this couple’s friends just weren’t as comfortable with the idea of a divorce party as I was [not that I was at ease with this couple’s break up. More like I had a writerly morbid fascination with it.]

If I didn’t feel awkward at the beginning of the party, I quickly fell into it. Despite the couple’s assertions that this was going to be a fun, light-hearted event, it was definitely no such thing. The couple had split into their two separate camps, the girl on the couch with her friends, the guy with his buddies by the makeshift bar.

I found it, as someone who didn’t know the happy couple very well, pretty difficult to make small talk.

“So…how long were the two of you married? What was that final nail in the coffin? Do you have plans to date again soon?”

None of these question would work. But then again, it didn’t seem appropriate to ask about his grad work or where they were originally from, all the while staring at the cake topped by bride and groom figures with their backs to each other. And as delicious as the cake looked, I wasn’t about to suggest that anyone should get a knife. I was worried one of the ex’s would decide to cute the tension by cutting the other’s face.

Ethan and I did not stay long.

Look, I’ve [clearly] never been lucky enough to be married. I’m not even going to get into marriage here, let alone divorce. I have zero judgement on the lives of these two people. But I know that no one goes into any relationship hoping for a break up. I’m not saying people don’t get married knowing they’re going to get divorced. I think some people do. But people don’t take a deep breath on their wedding day and say, Well, if this doesn’t work out, there’s always divorce. And you know what? That’s kinda scary to me.

Please believe me–I’m not judging this couple. Relationships dissolve for a myriad of reasons. Ethan and I eventually fell apart because I could not commit. I accepted the end from the beginning. I think this couple was  brave, trying to be upbeat about their divorce. You shouldn’t go into marriage anticipating its end, and I don’t think they did. In the end, I just feel bad for them. It hurts.

Maybe Ethan and I should have brought a gift.

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