Di­vorce Diaries

When you’ve met your ‘ideal man’ but the ro­mance fails, how do you even know what to look for any more?

NEXT (New Zealand) - - Contents - by Sarah Quigley

Get­ting up early is one of my least favourite things, up there with fly­ing long-haul and fil­ing tax. I’ve set two alarm clocks five min­utes apart, to make sure I don’t sleep in, but I’m so dazed from the first one that I for­get about the sec­ond one and I’m al­ready in the shower when a gi­ant ham­mer­ing starts up in my hall­way. Dr Now, my iras­ci­ble neigh­bour down­stairs, has been wo­ken by Alarm Clock Num­ber Two and is thump­ing on his ceil­ing with a broom.

“Sorry, sorry!” I sprint from the bath­room to the bed­room, and then from the bed­room to the kitchen, and drink a pot of cof­fee in un­der four min­utes while I stash keys in bag, and bag in book bag, and exit the house five hours be­fore I would nor­mally.

The sun is blaz­ing and I wince my way to the park on the cor­ner, where Tiny is lolling on a wall, face turned bliss­fully to the UV rays. “Beau­ti­ful morn­ing!” he says with the pos­i­tive at­ti­tude of those to whom early ris­ing comes nat­u­rally.

Our lit­tle cob­bled-streeted neigh­bour­hood seems to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its own ver­sion of morn­ing rush hour.

“Where are they all go­ing?” I ask, be­wil­dered.

“God knows!” Tiny looks blank. “They’re all cre­atives, after all. It’s not like any of them have real jobs to get to.”

Soon it’s clear that ev­ery­one is headed to the same place as Tiny and I: the new bak­ery that’s al­ready so pop­u­lar no one can get a seat but ev­ery­one hangs around any­way, want­ing to see and be seen. “Bo­hemian Ber­lin isn’t what it used to be!” Tiny snatches up the last two or­ganic wal­nut rolls be­fore they can be bought by a well-groomed hip­ster with hands full of gleam­ing Ap­ple de­vices.

We take our break­fast out­side to a bench, giv­ing Tiny am­ple op­por­tu­nity to eye up the pa­rade of ur­ban males: shaved heads, mas­sive beards, but­toned-up shirts, rolled-up trousers, acres of man-an­kle. “Not my type…” he muses a lit­tle too au­di­bly. “Def­i­nitely not my type… That’s my type… And that could be my type…”

“But none of your types look any­thing like your boyfriend,” I say at last.

“That’s right. I have var­i­ous types. A street type, a club type, and just one AtH­ome type. Don’t you?”

I’m at a loss for words. After di­vorce, how do we re­ally know what our types are? Ob­vi­ously we think our type is the one we marry – un­til di­vorce proves con­clu­sively that it’s not.

I catch a tram far, far away from Hip­sterLand into the depths of a Ber­lin sub­urb, feel­ing in­creas­ingly con­fused. So the good-look­ing, volatile, Scan­di­na­vian artis­tic man I mar­ried wasn’t my type. Nei­ther was the busi­ness­man who knew a lot about the share­mar­ket but had never heard of Vir­ginia Woolf. Nei­ther was the nervy yet con­fi­dent youth­ful ac­tor… Should we try harder to iden­tify our type, so we can ac­tively seek them out? Or should we al­low Fate to choose and de­cide on our type ret­ro­spec­tively?

Thoughts rat­tle in my head, the tram rat­tles to a halt – and there’s the vast grey school build­ing, look­ing as invit­ing as the row of early starts that lie ahead. I’ve en­rolled for a full-time lan­guage course to take my mind off my re­cent break-up with Glove Boy, whose raw up­set­ness seemed not part of his usual ac­tor shtick.

In­side the class­room are 20 un­knowns. Bearded, clean-shaven; spiky hair, no hair; suits, jeans; Korean, Arab, Ja­panese. “Guten Mor­gen,” I mum­ble. As I head for an empty seat. I can’t help won­der­ing: will all these peo­ple soon re­veal them­selves to be types? Are we just vari­a­tions on a hu­man theme? Curs­ing Tiny and his in­sou­ciant cer­tainty, curs­ing di­vorce and the un­cer­tainty that comes in its wake, I open my blank note­book. I’m as ex­pec­tant and clue­less as the page be­fore me.

Should we al­low Fate to choose and de­cide on our type ret­ro­spec­tively?

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