Monday, December 30, 2013

The Failcrum



If there isn't a word in our vocabulary for having been divorced exactly the length of time you were married, there ought to be. And if a word like that did exist, it occurred to me (at this particular time of year, the end of the year, with December dripping slowly away the way it does, complete with the existential stew of seasonal exultation and dissatisfaction and regret and nostalgia), then that word would adequately describe where I am at this point in my life. A point exactly in the middle. A point where I can look back equidistance either way I choose--to married life and to post-married life.

It's an interesting place to be. It's an odd place to be, in a way. It's a place that begs an awareness of how time both moves and yet, strangely enough, doesn't seem to move at all. It's a place that steers home the unavoidable conviction of not only how far one has come but also how far one has been and--perhaps most revealingly--how far off the mark one is from where one had hoped to be.

I have recently come to realize, with the year closing out in the waning days of December, that 2013 marked a watershed moment for me, a midway point-of-no-return, of sorts, marking ground covered in ways I had probably hoped to never acknowledge: My marriage lasted for nine years, and now--with the end of this year close at hand--I have been divorced, and single, and alone for nine years as well.

[Aside: Is that even possible? And when, exactly, did that happen? And how, exactly, did that happen? And just what in the hell kind of social pariah does that make me, anyway? Am I to be banished now, forthwith, to some uncharted island off a South American coast somewhere, like some emotional leper unfit for human habitation of any sort?]

How did I get here, this midway point of "relationship-stasis," this failed social experiment, this odd, uncomfortable anniversary for which no word in the English language has even yet been invented?

In fact, I don't know if that grim realization has fully sunk in: There is no word to describe me and the place I've found myself all of the sudden. There is no definition, no term, no fanciful turn-of-phrase--like a beloved "golden birthday"--to mark the place where I am now. I am a man without definition. A man without meaning, without a lexical heritage to add support and weight to my oddly-explained existence.

What can you say about someone, after all, who has found himself here? What can you say about someone who has found himself--either by stubborn "selective" choice or by what has to be one of the unluckiest losing streaks with the ladies ever recorded--single for as long as he was married?

Exactly what word or phrase best describes this maudlin anniversary? What wording would most accurately define the situation that I find myself in, this moment of being caught halfway, balancing both ends of a history in decline?

How about the word failcrum? If we need to invent a word to take the place where no word exists, I offer the invented word failcrum. (You know...something cute like that. A play-on-words sort of thing, combining the words "fail" and "fulcrum," to form its own creation: The pivot point which balances between failures.) As in: "Oh no, I suddenly find myself at the failcrum of my life. What am I going to do?" Or, "Hey, what time is it? Oh, that's right. It doesn't matter; it's time for my failcrum!." Or, "Look out! I think I just failcrummed myself!" (which obviously jumps ahead to the notion of the word morphing from being simply a noun to a verb, that venerable word of action, as in, also, "Why don't you just go failcrum yourself!"). Or better yet, one more: "Holy shit, buddy, Happy Failcrum!"

[Aside: Which begs the question--maybe--will there ever be a market for such a thing as a "Happy Failcrum" song, played at just such an anniversary? Will there ever be a world which would support such a thing as a line of greeting cards devoted specifically to the celebration of someone reaching his failcrum? Is finding oneself at the failcrum, in fact, a point to be celebrated? Does it deserve acclamation? Does it deserve our condolences? Does it deserve recognition at all? Or is it better observed, perhaps, by not observing it? Does the failcrum--like the poor son-of-a-bitch living it out in full display--even deserve any attention whatsoever?]

Like all watershed moments, finding one's self divorced for exactly the same amount of time as one was married is a weird moment that calls for inspection and introspection of matters both large and small. Life in the macrocosm and the microcosm. The things that have not gone as planned and the things that have not gone right. The things that have failed absolutely and the things that have not succeeded at all.

[Aside: This actually isn't as difficult as it may sound.]

And it could be, perhaps, that I've already--in a relatively short space--devoted way too much time to discussing or even acknowledging such an anniversary as the failcrum anyway. Perhaps it is above, or below, any mention at all. After all, it will be over very, very quickly. With the coming of the new year, and the subsequent passing of 2014, the balance will soon be shifted, and I'll be on the other side of the middle-point. Weight will have moved. Gravity will have intervened. Inarguable laws of nature will have kicked into play. And all will be as it is supposed to be. Perhaps as it always was. And life--failed or not--will go on. Maybe not as planned, but...it goes on.

And the only memory of this unnamed moment in life will be discovered years from now in a box of memorabilia marking the unmentioned milestones of my life, buried beneath stacks of other flotsam and jetsam--a bent-eared, faded, and half-torn greeting card with a simple wish encoded in its single fold: "Holy shit, buddy, Happy Failcrum!" it will read. And I'll be the only one who knows what it means.

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