Stay Out

I had a funny conversation with Mackenzie recently. She and I had been hanging out with my folks that evening and were presently in the back seat of their car.

“What was your old boyfriend’s name again?” she wanted to know.

“Ummm,” I stalled. “[The Egyptian]?” I wondered, trying to think if she’d ever met him. (She hadn’t).

“No … I think it was, Nick? Or something like that.”

“Kevin,” my dad interjected from the driver’s seat. “He was her husband.”

The kid turned to me wide-eyed.

“You were … married???” Mackenzie would only have been four or five when Kevin hit the road back to Pennsylvania so it’s not surprising she can barely remember him, although at the time, they had been great fans of each other.

“Yep,” I said.

“LEGIT, MARRIED?”

“I know. It’s hard for me to believe, too,” I said.

The conversation reminded me of an e-mail exchange I had with Lisa a couple of months ago. I wrote to her to tell her I had reached a certain post-divorce financial milestone, the final critical piece I required to leave my shared past behind.

Lisa replied: Now you are finally free! Good riddance, X Bowman!

I thought calling him “X” was a clever little way to dismiss this unfortunate blip in my life. But it turned out she just couldn’t remember his name. I totally understood. In fact, even to me, the whole episode has the fuzzy edges of a dream. It would almost be possible to believe it was, if I hadn’t realized some hard truths about myself over the last few days.

It started when Lisa e-mailed me with some information about a condo development. She’d been telling me about it for a while – I could do it, she said – but I wasn’t on board with the idea. Owning anything in this city doesn’t just seem out of reach, it IS out of reach. There is only so much a single girl can put away while also paying rent and living. But Lisa is persistent, and this e-mail included some important details – a timeline and a budget. She’d calculated the monthly amount I’d need to save to achieve a downpayment, and it was totally feasible. Just as Lisa found this apartment for me, she has found my next home.

Four years until they break ground, she told me, and another two until move in.

It didn’t take long for my imagination to start firing on all cylinders. Let’s just say that I knew where I’d be working out and grocery shopping within about an hour of reading her e-mail. I have a six-year plan. It feels pretty awesome.

And that’s where the hard truth is. When I think about that condo, my condo, six years from now, I think of myself as living in it alone. Not for any woe-is-me reasons. I feel pretty confident I’ll find someone eventually. But because I cannot lose my assets again. In six years, I’ll be 42 and there is no way in hell I will start over from scratch financially at that point, particularly if I fund the condo myself. I just can’t. Perhaps there is a remedy in law to protect the condo – make sure it’s mine – in the event of relationship ruin. A pre-nup? I haven’t looked into it yet, and maybe I should, because the only way I can think to avoid that devastation, is to keep people out.

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