In just a few days, I’m going to experience an anniversary – or, at least, what would have been my 20th wedding anniversary with Rosa Piedra. Twenty years ago, I stood in front of my dad, Rob, Sean and… not a whole lot of people, actually, and vowed never to leave her.
And I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve wanted to get it off my chest – how this is affecting me – but I anticipate that most of my readers with voice their dissatisfaction with me (never in the Comments, though… yeesh!) for even mentioning it… as if I’d forgotten that I am now married to Vicky.
Folks, she’s upstairs in bed. I had dinner with her tonight. I know we’re married.
I wish that wiped the slate clean. It doesn’t.
This is very difficult to explain. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine I was ever married to Rosa. After all, Vicky and I have a past, present, and a future all planned out; how could anyone else have ever existed in my life? But then I think about how Rosa and I had a past, present, and a future ready to experience together. It’s a fragmenting thought and it splits me down the middle. On one side, here I am with Vicky, happily living our lives. On the other side, there’s the part of my that died back then when I lost Rosa. And it doesn’t make sense. How could I be happy with Vicky today if I died back then?
Time doesn’t flow in a straight line. I wish it did. I wish my life was like a list of things and people to do. That way, I could have scratched Rosa off the list before meeting Vicky. But Rosa keeps turning up – thanks to my overly-active mind. Knowing we didn’t make it reopens old wounds all over again and I feel the pain of losing her all over again – and this happens ever so opportunely and conveniently while I’m trying to focus my affection on Vicky, because I really don’t feel like saying to my wife, “No tonight, honey. I’m hurting too much over losing Rosa… nearly a decade ago…” Seriously, how fucked up is that?
And the thing I realize is that the Rosa I loved doesn’t even exist any more. She’s gone. The physical person has changed, even her bodily cells have all been replaced. And the spirit I loved may not have even existed to begin with, as I am reminded when I think back on when she perjured herself in court and tried to hurt me even worse.
So, I am haunted by the memory of someone I may never have known.
I hear her voice sometimes, calling my name, especially in these early mornings when I can’t sleep. I try to remember the ways she hurt me, but it’s harder to think of those things while also realizing how I am forgetting he voice. The ghost is fading. And how weird is it that I mourn losing even that?
I don’t want Rosa. I just want to stop feeling the pain of losing her… and then I realize that the pain is all that makes it real, nothing else exists.
Vicky and I were talking about multiple universes the other day and, with that in mind, I think it’s important to realize that in some other universe, Rosa and I are still together and I am wishing her a happy 20th anniversary. In some universe, she and I never met and Vicky and I still found each other – maybe I’m even employed. Hell, why not? – and this date means nothing to me. This is neither of those places. In this universe, I lost Rosa and found Vicky and I am left to reconcile those two incontrovertible realities on my life. Vicky has brought joy to my life and being with her makes me immensely happy but that doesn’t erase my history. No, that’s just not how life works.
Life works like this: Ken and Rosa, twenty years ago, got married. I want to send them a wedding gift, telling them to embrace every moment of their lives together because they are finite, short, and fleeting. I can’t, of course. Instead, I’ll tell Vicky, just as I’m telling you.
Happy endings are an illusion. Happy Nows are what we should all hope to get.