She’d had enough of the marriage. Certainly, he wasn’t doing his part to keep the marriage strong she said – and to a degree she was correct – but there was more to the story than met the eye. Yes, there was someone new in the picture but not truly new; he was someone who had been an obscured image in the diorama for some months but would now be fully colorized. This new man was fully amenable to her way of thinking. Indeed, the spiritual asymmetry and personality clashes with “the old” that were leading to flare-ups like brush fires would not be kindled by this new man. So, after “the old” upset her mother in an argument over politics – an argument that he should have been wise enough not to get suckered into – the perfect opportunity to get rid of him was presented and seized!
Yes, opportunity to be rid of him had finally been delivered to the front door. After all, he can’t upset her mother! So, it was out with “the old” and in with “the new” she decided, and the word “divorce” was hurled at him; hitting his solar plexus with the intensity of a Randy Johnson fastball.
The “D” word came as no surprise and in fact it was a small relief as he was likewise unhappy in the marriage. But, for the sake of their eight year old daughter he would have stuck it out. He would have done the best that he could to get along and find happiness in the little things; the few things that they did have in common.
But why would she choose to drop “the old” now, when the business that was his livelihood was declining and the debt was piling up. Understanding that there would be little hope in saving his type of business, he began his search for a “real job.” To his detriment, the job market was tantamount to a grocery store that was sold out of bread, milk, and beer. The U.S. economy was entering into recession and to cast him out on his own would be cruel, so she mustered up enough compassion to let him stay around for a few months until he could find a place to go. Still, the question remained – how could she be so selfish and cruel to want out at this juncture? Part of the answer to that question was that “the new” was doing A-OK in the financial department and in that he represented security.
She allowed him to stay in the spare bedroom until Spring; the legal separation having been granted and the divorce nearly finalized. She would keep the house and the best of the two cars. They would share custody of the daughter, though her residence would remain with the mother. He got his debt, his dying business, the older, higher-mileage car and his personal belongings. He desired for their daughter to enjoy the stability of remaining in her home and her school, so there was no arguing over what seemed to be an imbalance in the outcome. He would have liked to have seen his doctor as there were stomach cramps that began to wake him in the night – but he rationalized it as stress, considering his life’s circumstances. Alas, there was no doctor’s visit, as the health insurance was provided by the former wife’s employer and it too was a casualty of the divorce.
So, in the spring “the old” took up residence with a friend. There was a spare bedroom in the friend’s apartment that provided almost enough room – but the friend was likewise struggling and was extended the opportunity to move back home with his mother to the house that he had grown up in. The friend did not delay his move and while he was sad and distressed over the situation of “the old” – he could not take him along.
Indeed, “the old” had become indigent and was now homeless. The System placed him into a Rescue Mission shelter, but that was only for a few weeks, due to the high number of homeless men needing to utilize the limited number of beds. This former small business entrepreneur and family man was now on the streets; as an unfortunate statistic and an “un-person” as the homeless have been coldly referred to by those who sit on leather-backed thrones; partaking of the comfort of the ivory tower.
“The old” developed new skill sets: some of those skills included eating out of trash cans and dumpsters, gathering cans and bottles for deposit redemption, and sleeping under a bridge along a busy thoroughfare. He had little left in the way of clothing and belongings, and those were carried along in an NFL ball bag; a remnant of his former business. He had aged in his new lifestyle – now looking like a much older man. The lack of personal hygiene was difficult for him to become accustomed to, but opportunities to shower, shave, and brush teeth were few and far between…
…But his new friends the pigeons did not find him at all offensive.
To get the full story, read The Wayfarers book Walking Dreams and the conclusion of the story, Five Feet From The Cabin Door: