Long after our marriage died, the woman who had once nearly nagged me into an early grave sidled up to me at a local dive bar. On her finger was a tan line where her band used to rest. She slid the divorce papers like a birthday card across the bar. With that out the way, we toasted to new beginnings.
The evening became more colorful with each passing round. We spoke at length about life and love and relationships, which, like an aged Irish whiskey, I prefer poured over rocks, never neat. She pointed that out, the last bit about rocks, while using her newly naked finger to stir her drink. Tequila Mockingbird—a literary twist even in her choice of cocktail.
As my editor, she’d never passed on an opportunity to correct me. As my girlfriend, then fiancé, then wife, the same had been true of her.
But this here, this was a forgotten side of her.
Carefree and light.
It occurred to me that perhaps I’d been the cause for the stick she carried up her keister for the duration of our doomed union. It was entirely possible that, all along, her need to overcorrect had been caused either directly or inadvertently by the haphazard manner in which I’ve led my life.
Over the years, we’ve created memories in that bar. Our initials are carved somewhere on the corner stall of the women’s bathroom. It was where we first met. Where we shared our first kiss. Same night, actually. With a hint of agave on her breath, she’d spoken in earnest about discovering and bringing to market worthwhile literature. I hadn’t bothered to mention that I was shopping my first manuscript.
And later, after she’d read and fallen in love with my aforementioned story, she slid a publishing contract like a love letter across this same bar top. And we toasted to new beginnings.