Photos of us in a variety of settings, dressed up, dressed down, her hair changing. Tapes and demos she recorded, and presents she bought for me. Inexplicably, her wedding dress was left at my mom's house, and came into my possession when Mom passed away. Oh, and a divorce decree.
These things are the only tangible proof I have that i was married.
Memories, too, of course, growing fainter as the time we spent together recedes farther into the past. Not so much memories anymore as anecdotes, the bad things I did, the bad things she did, spun over and over to women I date, so they'll understand, or told to friends, to explain a mood. The tales are told by rote now, there's no longer any pain, no new revelations, the details never vary. Sometimes I wonder, as I recite the stories yet again, did it really happen this way?
My marriage doesn't feel like something that actually happened to me anymore. It doesn't feel, period. Would I remember as much as I do if I didn't talk about it? Do I have actual memories of us as a couple, or memories of talking about us? We did things, went to nice restaurants, saw a lot of movies, went for walks. We made love, we fought. That we did these things I know, but the little details that can make this shared past come alive, those are gone. The whole time we spent together is blurring into vague feelings, contentment or resentment, happiness or pain, joy and sorrow--yes, I remember all those things from my marriage, but I can't recall the context. I considered myself happy with her, but I don't know why.
It's good to let it go, and necessary, but troubling, too. When all the wounds were fresh, I could hear a song or read something or see something that would make me think of her, and I would burst into tears. I don't do that now. Is it the pain that has diminished, or the clarity of the memory?
I'm calmer now, less angry, better able to keep my temper in check. Depression is still an aquaintance i know all too well, but I function. I wasn't like this when we were together, but I know this because she reminds me, not because I can recall my foul moods. Does the person who was married even still exist? Or is he just a shadow, whispering in my ear vague warnings that the past could repeat itself, preventing me from enjoying my life in the present? Would I be better off now if I had never known her? Or worse?
We talk still, two or three times a week, because we still enjoy each other's company. Her voice on the phone is abstract, I can't even visualize the person who goes with it. The vibe is that of talking to an old buddy you haven't seen in years, not someone I once loved with all my heart and soul. And I did love her. That part, at least, I remember.