Free Zone


I only wish I could wake up like this in the morning and be so entirely exuberant. Unfortunately, every morning I wake up quite the opposite: worried, anxious, a little scared, even.

See, I’m facing freedom like I haven’t in years. And I got to tell you, it’s a little frightening.

Just signed the contract on a house I’m buying and after a little haggling, so did the sellers. It’s only a matter of days before the whole thing becomes final. Then I shake hands with the real estate agent, sign up for insurance, enlist the help of my friends, pack my belongings and move out. It’ll be the first time in years that I have a place to myself. No husband, no kid, no cat…nobody. And while that sounds like heaven, I’m still trying to convince myself it is.

There’s plenty I should be grateful for, and am.

My parents still provide for me, even after death. Selling their home give me an opportunity to purchase a modest cottage for cash, leaving me only with taxes and utilities to pay. My husband realizes his guilt in the divorce and is providing me with a reasonable alimony I can live with.  My sister and friends have been there for me all along, and will help me get the new place in shape.

And I’ll even have peace and quiet to write, although I’m not sure where my desk will fit in the new (tiny) space. My already-published, MFA-bearing sister is line-editing my novel as we speak, an unenviable job if ever there were one…but I’m ever grateful to her for embarking on the task.

But still, I’m faced with daily heart palpitations, worrying me, a vicious cycle since stress causes them in the first place. So what’s causing all this agita?

This might sound like a cop-out: I don’t know.

I’ve gone through the list: I don’t want to reconcile with my husband, I think my son is better off with him at this stage of his teenage life, if I’m careful I can afford the house I’ll be moving into, eventually I’ll find a better job, someone’s bound to publish my book (I hope), I’ll meet new friends, I’ll be happy once again.

Yet, unease ruptures my heart. My chest is burning as we speak.

As I rang up customer’s in Phipps, a woman my age, looking confident and pretty, placed a whole batch of housy things on the belt: decorative mirror, a new chair, sheets, pillows, towels, dishes, pots, etc. “Moving?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said as she added more stuff. “Well, I already did. Need to replace a few things.”

“So where you from?” I asked, doing the cashier chatty thing.

“Oh, I’m from here,” she said. “But I’m getting divorced. This is the first time in my whole life I’m going to live on my own. Went from my parents to my married house. Can’t wait to find out what it’s like to have just me to report to.”

I thought about that for a moment. “I’ll be joining your club soon, although I married late and lived on my own for some time,” I said.

“Yeah? Well I guess you can’t wait to put your life back the way it was, then, right?” she said.

“Maybe…I don’t know…but I’ll find out soon,” I replied.

“You’ll be fine. I am already,” she said as she paid for her goods and left. She wheeled her cart out the door smiling, delighted in her new-found freedom.

Yesterday, a friend of mine stopped by with her daughter, shopping for last-minute things before said daughter headed off to grad school. Friend’s survival is remarkable for her dreadful, awful, hellish experience. Her daughter calls her parents’ divorce “The War.” Battles remain, even though the children are adults and both former spouses have met other partners.

“Hey, I still live in a one-bedroom apartment,” said Friend, “and both my kids shared that space with me. You’re going to have a house. Already you’re making progress.”

As I go about my work at Phipp’s, I consider the expanse of time I’ll have to sit in front of my computer, undisturbed, to write my soul out, no one to bang on my office door to locate the whereabouts of a variety of lost objects, when’s dinner, where’s the cat, why didn’t you pay that bill, didn’t you know we’re out of milk, why do you spend so much time typing at that damn computer instead of watching TV with me, why don’t you want to do anything else except write, and so on.

Everything is perspective. Maybe that’s what freedom is all about.


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