Dividing the books

Spouse and I decided it doesn’t make sense to live together in our old apartment again. For years we haven’t slept in the same bed anyway, one of us always ended up on the couch. He snores and we both have serious sleeping problems. We also have very different ideas about acceptable levels of cleanliness at home. And now, with non monogamy, it’s hard to imagine living together again. 

Anyway, it’s a decision we both feel good about. Our lease is up in August and depending on how things are we may move into a two bedroom and have separate bedrooms and hire a cleaner. Or, separate apartments in the same building. Or on the same block. Who knows. 

But, I won’t be moving back into the place we built together. So today, I went to go get the rest of my things. Not every last item.. and it isn’t time to divide furniture or anything. 

The process of packing the rest of my things up, alone, was sadder than I expected. Especially dividing our books. Spouse and I both love to read and own the books we love. 

I remember when Spouse and I moved in together after we got married, we had such a great time combining our books. We were so young and totally poor. In fact, we had a pile of blankets in the living room we referred to as our “couch” for months and we could not afford book shelves. So we sat on the wood floor in the sun from the big front window, categorizing and stacking our books, telling each other the signifance of many as we did. It is one of my most tender memories from the beginning of our marriage. 

So today, as I scanned our bookshelves in our fancy apartment downtown, I felt so sad to be dividing our collection. It was also hard to decide who kept what. Some were mine before but became favorites of his and vice versa. Some we bought one another and even harder, the books we bought together because we both wanted to read them and both ended up loving them. 

Even though this isn’t the end of our marriage, it is the end of our marriage in the way it had existed. I tried to remind myself of the months I spent crying myself to sleep out of pain and loneliness in that apartment. I tried to remind myself that this is the right choice for us both. I tried to remind myself that we are happier now. But it still hurt to separate those books and bring them to my new place. 

I also took some things from the walls. I had carefully constructed a collage above our king sized bed of pictures of us, our dogs, our families, our vows written out in beautiful calligraphy and framed, dried flowers from our wedding day, and some of our favorite art. I just took two small things from the collage because disturbing it too much felt wrong. Although our marriage wasn’t working, it also needn’t be destroyed. Just reworked. Which this collage will also need now. 

So I spent a lot of the day crying to sad music as I sorted. But. I finally feel fully moved into my new place. I’m glad I did that alone. I am truly on my own for the first time in my life. I still relied partially on my parents before I met Spouse and then when we got married I took on so much responsibility for our lives. So even though he’s still in my life, I don’t know that we’ll ever combine lives the way again. 

And so, dividing the books was emotional, but as I’m laying here in bed looking at my full collection of poetry, I feel calm. 

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