Tonight I'm coming to you live from the first floor of my new apartment, a.k.a. Box Central. (I can see the carpet between the boxes, but only just.)
Earlier today I stood in the empty, echoing kitchen of my old apartment, next to a gutted hole that previously held a stove, and laid my keys out in a line on the countertop: screen door, front door, garage door. With the final key, the transaction was complete, and I no longer lived in the place where P and I spent the last five years.
I came home to the new place, but it didn't feel like home. I'm having a hard time believing that we really live here now, just me and G. I keep thinking that I'll wake up tomorrow and P will still be alive, and my real life will resume. Because that's how I feel, how I've felt for the last two months -- as if everything I'm doing is temporary, a stopgap to fill in the time until this mad dream is over.
None of it feels real. I don't feel real.
I don't know who I am anymore.
It isn't that I derived my entire identity from being married to P -- I've always had a job, and my own friends, and pursued various interests as far as time allowed. Plus, I'm G's mother, and that role hasn't changed. When you spend 13 years with someone, though, part of your sense of self becomes wrapped up in that person. It's inevitable, and it isn't a bad thing; it just is. The problem is when the person is taken away, that chunk of your self, your ego, goes too. It's like -- oh, I don't know -- it's like being a nuclear physicist your whole life, and then going to the lab one morning and finding that the entire profession of nuclear physics has been eradicated. Now you have to be something else, but no one's told you what it is, and you haven't been anything but a nuclear physicist in so long that you've forgotten what it was like not to be one. And what then? What do you become? How many days, weeks, months, years before your life stops feeling like it belongs to a stranger?
I can't go back to being who I was before I met P. I was only 22 then, and too much has happened since; too many things I can't forget and wouldn't want to if I could. And I can't carry on being the person I was with P now that P isn't here anymore.
I don't know what will happen to me next. All I know is that I miss nuclear physics. I miss it a lot.