Summer's gone, and the couples lurking in the courthouse hallways, hoping the court will grant their right to marry, have drifted away, disappointed at the maddeningly slow bend of the arc of justice. I have heard all those couples, sharing their frustration on the news, explaining their sadness, and I get it. But I can't really feel sorry for them.
I, too, spent the summer lurking in courthouse hallways, waiting for my name to be called. Filing petitions and declarations and stipulations and motions and every other "-tion" my attorney could think of, all in service of a different goal: dissolution. A "Dissolution of Domestic Partnership," is the sad end to my 10 year marriage which, in conflicted California, isn't a "real" marriage but a domestic partnership with all the rights and responsibilities of marriage except that -- well, you get the idea.
"Dissolution," sounds like some sort of organic, painless process, like honey disappearing into my morning tea. So different than "divorce," with its image of the "broken home," where children traipse from parent to parent dragging sad stuffed bears. "Divorce" sounds so much more, painful.
Good friends have walked with me through this devastating process. But with each, there was a moment, early on, when their good intentions gave way to curiosity about the breakup of my family. "Yes," I answered the hesitant question. "We can't get married, but we still have to go to court to split up." When our collaborative legal process broke down, we ended up fighting it out, just like so many other good, sad people we've known. Nothing about it feels like dissolution, except the periodic dissolving into tears. Divorce by any other name still hurts as much.
So, to those couples who keep returning to the courthouse steps each time a decision seems near, I wish a heartbroken good luck in their quest to get married. I, too, hope their wish is granted, but most of all, I just want my divorce.