I have a Dan Hicks story

It was 2000. I was living with my aunt posy just outside of Washington DC. I would go to a Barnes & Noble somewhat close to her house every once in a while. I just started listening to Dan Hicks after seeing him on Conan O’Brien.

All of these things together converged into me seeing a flyer in the window for a Dan Hicks performance at that very Barnes & Noble one week later. I took the metro over to that Barnes & Noble and sat in a mostly empty store, undismayed by the dusting of snow fall we had that afternoon and, in my West Virginia ignorance, unaware that Washington DC basically shuts down whenever that happens.

A few tables away a couple of tables were pushed together and a bunch of people were sitting at them. They were talking loudly and eating and drinking coffee. I thought to myself “they must be here to see the band, because they look like they would be fans.”

You can tell where this is going.

So those people at the tables, Dan Hicks and a few of his Hot Licks, got up and played some songs to me and about four Barnes and Noble employees.

I left without saying a word to anyone in the band, or buying anything. I think I regret that, but I was extremely anxious in social situations, and I don’t think meeting one of my recent musical discoveries was even a remote possibility.

This song is still one of my favorite songs in the world, and I am almost positive that this is the performance I saw that made me like Dan Hicks so much. It’s a great album.

That was my Dan Hicks story.

I had to search my email to find out when my marriage ended.

My research led me to this: my marriage ended ten years ago this very weekend. For all the great things Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, I will always associate his day with one of the top five worst days of my life. He would understand.

I had a vague idea of when my marriage ended, I just didn’t know exactly when. The beauty of email is that it didn’t take long to find out — and to relive the whole awful experience.

Actually, reliving it wasn’t that bad. it was bad at the time, but it isn’t now. This is no surprise to anybody who has had time pass since an awful moment in their lives, because life goes on and everybody else’s life goes on and every day is a little different from the one before it and it all clicks together into a lot of emotional acres. I can still see the bad parts, but they don’t affect me. There are cannons firing and disasters happening over there, but I’m far away. I can sit down here and have a picnic.

Today, on the tenth anniversary of the end of my marriage, I’m drinking coffee and writing. You can tell I’m at an impasse in a big project because I’m writing this instead of writing that (but I spent most of the morning on it, so I’m okay). Later, I’ll watch a movie. I’ll have leftovers for dinner and get ready for work tomorrow. My mood is good. I probably won’t think about this anniversary again today, but it’s okay if I do.

My marriage lasted six months. My spouse and I probably shouldn’t have ever gotten married in the first place. I always say it was the momentum that put us in front of our families and friends, exchanging vows. We got married because that’s what people in their twenties do after dating for four years. But there were cracks in our relationship that grew so big so quickly that we couldn’t stay together anymore. The details are irrelevant. Blame is pointless. It’s been too long. We’re not the same people. Thank god I’m not the same person.

When I tell people I’m divorced, I downplay it. Because my marriage was so short, I don’t feel like I got the full picture of what it’s like to have to untangle your life from somebody else’s. The lady I know who had three kids with a man and spent twenty years with him, only to find out he was doing things that married men aren’t supposed to do — I can’t fathom her pain. My divorce recedes into an inconvenience next to the operatic tragedy of hers.

But life isn’t objective. My divorce hurt.

But the hurt faded. It’s no surprising revelation to say that time healed my wounds, or that I feel better ten years after bad things happened to me.

Ten years ago: weeping, rending, terror because my marriage was over.
Today: I had to search my email to find out when my marriage ended.

Things get better, if you let them.