Summer 2014

It was hot, and I was wearing flannel, like I do often.

I pulled up to the Champion Motors in Englewood. I’ve passed it a million times on the way to the beach.

This can’t be right.

I checked the address, and then I saw him.

Who gets divorced at a small car dealership?

He would.

After yelling at him, like I would often, we walked inside, and I saw the chalkboard with a list of services.

The wife of the dealership owner has an office in the back, where she did all kinds of things.

She was a notary, she filed paperwork for people, and apparently she did divorces.

It was $50 cheaper than going to the courthouse.

After nearly two years of asking for the divorce, he finally agreed to pay, so I sucked it up.

I wasn’t paying because I didn’t cheat on me, he did. 

She explained her title and all of the paperwork, but I couldn’t stop looking at her long, red hair, and thinking how did we get here?

Do you have any shared assets?

Does a broken heart count?

Do you want to ask for anything?

Yeah, three years of my life back.

And I am pretty sure he was high then too, I could always tell.

I couldn’t wait for this day. This was the day I was cussing at him over the phone about for years now.

You cheated on me, I want my last name back.

But as I was sitting there, I wasn’t so much relieved. I was mad, angry, upset, near tears.

I am 21 years old, and I am getting a divorce.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.

I am smart. I go to college. I have never been in trouble. I am kind. I loved him with everything I had.

When I said “I do” nearly three years before this day, I meant it.

When I thought of divorce, I always used to associate it with cheaters, liars, or people that couldn’t handle it. These people were quitters. Maybe it’s because my parents have been married for 33 years, and they aren’t the “norm” anymore, but I have always had these beautiful goals and standards for relationships. I wanted to be like them.

I wanted forever.

Once things started getting rocky, I realized it is okay to leave.

It’s fine to realize you deserve better.

It’s fine to walk away from abuse.

It’s fine to stand up for yourself.

Walking away doesn’t make you a quitter. In most cases, I see it as strength.

If you can look at a situation and realize you need to get out, go, and don’t look back.

You tried, and life doesn’t ever go how you plan it to.

I definitely wasn’t planning to sit at the Champion Motors next to the Denny’s on 776.

Don’t get me wrong, this is what I wanted all along.

I had a new boyfriend that treated me right, and I was happier than ever.

But when you are there, signing away, that your marriage is irretrievably broken, or something equally as haunting, it’s surreal.

We had an apartment, we had the same last name, we had towels with our names on them, we had plans. All of that seemed like a million years ago.

I said bye, thanks for paying.

How do you say goodbye after a divorce?

We were both different people now, older, wiser maybe.

Who was Marla Cooper?

She seems like a dream.

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