At the end of the arbitration, I was able to keep the house and most of the items I wanted to keep. I have to pay him some money out of my retirement account. I’ve also agreed to turn over about half the home furnishings to him; most of what I am keeping are things that I either inherited or acquired during my first marriage. I’m happy enough with the agreement.
Maybe happy isn’t the right word. Satisfied, perhaps. Relieved.
The next day, my father and I abandon our plans to continue fixing things around the house, and hop in my car – my car – and drive down to Southcenter, where I spend an hour looking at sofas, choose one, and buy it. My sofa. Then I spend an hour trying out mattresses, find one I like at a laughably good price, and buy that, too. My bed.
The bed and sofa they are replacing each took over a year to select; they only thing they say in terms of style is “compromise.”
We go back to my house, and I leaf through a catalog and find a coffee table, which I order a few days later.
The compromise table my table will replace took two years to select.
Last summer, in a fit of fury and desperation, I had packed up a lot of belongings with the idea that I would move them to a new home; that plan lost steam when The Departed refused to reply to our inquiries about whether he wanted the house and The Lawyer persuaded me that it was unwise to potentially be on the hook for both mortgage and rent in the event The Departed continued his uncooperative stance. In retrospect, it was sensible advice, but at the time I found it incredibly frustrating. The net result of that episode was that I’ve been living with piles of boxes since then.
So, the evening after arbitration, I decide to unbox some things. I hadn’t actually marked any of the boxes, so their contents are a bit of a mystery.
The box in the family room contains DVD’s and Wii games. The Child and I go through them all, one by one.
Look! I say. We got custody of Harry Potter!
I found The Holy Grail! squeals The Child.
We kept Wallace and Grommit in the divorce!
And the Raving Rabbids! Huzzah! she trills. Is the Wii in one of these boxes? We should visit the Rabbids!
You should walk around the house every so often and touch things and say mine, says my father.
I plan to, I tell him. But first, I’m going to make soup for dinner.
In my kitchen.