The courthouse is an awful place.
I decided this today as I went through the metal detector to stand in the center of a tall, square, bustling room with courtrooms on each side, a stairway at one end, a hallway at another and no clear sign telling me where to go.
Eventually, I found it. I went up and looked around and then asked for help.
Finally, I handed over my papers, my hands shaking, and I tried to offer the woman a weak smile. Really, though, I looked everywhere but at her. And I tried not to lose it, right there in the middle of a normal afternoon for everyone else. But an absolutely abnormally awful afternoon for me, no matter which way I keep trying to twist the kaleidoscope.
Filing for divorce costs $157. I made a photocopy of my Wonder Woman check before I turned it in. I don't know why. I don't ever want to look at it.
I tried to listen as the woman told me to hang on to certain papers I'd thought I needed to turn in today and I tried to look at her as she told me where to go next - but it involved more than one step and I had to ask her to repeat the directions and the name of the place and even then I'm surprised I remembered.
I thanked her, quietly, and then I walked away, out of that dreary, cubicle-laden, messed-up customers office. And I went downstairs, papers all out of order now, took a left as she told me and found another office with another office worker who I also couldn't look in the eye.
After 15 minutes with her - and her supervisor, who maybe could tell I was just about to lose it - it was all I could do to make it to the bench outside the door without my grief escaping in guilt-ridden sobs.
And then I couldn't move. The people - the lawyers in suits, the elderly woman in a wheelchair, the tattoed black man, the women who passed as if they didn't care nobody ever noticed them - moved quickly past me, in both directions. Time, for me, seemed to stand still. It was one of the most surreal moments I've ever had. It was as if I was in a dream, or that I wasn't actually even me.
I went home, and the house smelled like cat pee. For the first time ever. I don't know what to do about it.
I went to the gym where I went through the motions of a workout. I never found my groove.
I went to Hy-Vee where a man was cleaning the carpet in the entryway where the carts live. The smell was pungent and harsh, and I held my breath on the way back out a little bit later.
At home now, there is too much quiet. Rye is with Dane. Paige is asleep. Every now and then, her breath catches tiny, soft moans. Right now, the sound of the portable heater is hissing through the baby monitor.
Daphne is sleeping next to me on this old, tattered couch that I wonder if I'll always have.
I am so tired. And so is my broken man. Now, he says, he can find happiness.
I hope - someday - I can find peace.