On a lovely spring evening in Fayetteville, I was on the University of Arkansas campus and near the part of the Senior Walk with my name on it. UA grads have had their names engraved on the sidewalks of the campus since 1905. I love that my name is engraved on the Class of 1990 strip of walk near Old Main, the building used to represent all things Razorback. It’s beautiful, and the arboretum in front of it is stunning at twilight.
I tried to take a picture of my name on the walk. I’m sure I must have done that many years ago, but if so, I don’t have evidence of it. No matter which way I turned, moved, manipulated, or gyrated, I couldn’t get my name on the sidewalk without my ex-husband’s name right above it.
Then it hit me. Of course I can’t get my name alone. I was reminded that right there, written in stone, are our names together. We are tied together by a child, but also by our history. We transferred to the University of Arkansas from our Iowa colleges when we got married after our sophomore years. We started our adult lives together at the U of A, and we forged a good life for ourselves there. We saw each other through our bachelors’ degrees and later through masters’ degrees together. In many ways, we grew up together. We have history and many years of it.
Our fifteen-year marriage ended in lots of heartache and pain, as most breakups do. Even after all of that, even after ten years of him being married to someone else and two children with that wife, we are tied together. He is still just about the only person in the world I don’t mind being my most humble in front of. He has picked me up when my car broke down on the side of the interstate. When I was in a car wreck, he sat with me in the ER for many hours while I cried through a broken hand and totalled car. He is the only one I don’t mind sharing my financial woes with. When I lost my job he was remarkably supportive because I had seen him through the same sort of loss many years ago. Now with this teenager of ours, we parent together and do our best to keep this willful child on the straight and narrow.
We started our lives apart pretty hostile, and then over the years we became friendly but definitely not friends. After ten years I believe we have finally arrived at friendship. At least we are friends enough that I can look at our names on the walk together and be nostalgic for our early years, for our time together at our alma mater, and I can do it without thinking about some of the ugliness. Time is interesting in the way it helps us remember and forget.
It is written in stone. We are together, forever. Til death do us part.