Julie Does Wichita Falls
Before leaving Puerto Rico, Julie somehow wrangled a part-time teaching assignment at a state university in Wichita Falls, Texas, a site chosen solely because it was in the same area from which the postmarks on Philip’s most recent letters originated. The letters themselves offered little beyond a recurrent theme: Philip’s life had been ruined because Julie “forced” him to leave.
Once ensconced in her own apartment, removed from the perpetual noise and confusion that had been her Puerto Rican experience and equipped with a reliable phone operating on cheap local rates, Julie made short work of discovering that Philip was working for a utility company in a nearby town, the latest of a series of temporary jobs our former English Literature professor had held. To her surprise, Philip, when she contacted him, readily agreed to meet.
Happily Ever, After Divorce
Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.
From Jonathan Franzen
It required less than an hour for Julie to conclude that if Philip had a coherent reason or purpose in leaving their relationship, he was unable to convey it to her and that neither of them wanted to continue the marriage. They agreed to a no-fault, self-filed divorce, each keeping whatever goods and cash then in his or her possession.
[Narrator’s Note: My apologies. I can’t stop myself from crashing through the fourth wall to ask, Is there anyone except Julie who doesn’t already know that the Philip is going to use the divorce to somehow rip her off? OK, I didn’t think so. Read on.]
On the day Julie was to file the final divorce papers and make the obligatory court appearance, Philip threatened to contest the proceedings unless she loaned him $600.
[Narrator’s Note: Again, my apologies. We are all sardonically chortling over the needless pretense that this money would ever be repaid, aren’t we? Just checking. There’s still more.]
Rather than forestall the divorce, Julie paid what she and I would later label her $600 Redemption Fee.
Then, while Julie was actually in the courtroom, Philip stole her car. Yep, Julie had lent him her car, ostensibly so he could return some of her belongings he had accidentally taken when he had left a year ago.
[Narrator’s Note: Once again … Oh, never mind. What could I possibly add to the obvious?]
Philip did leave a scrawled note explaining his motive for committing grand theft auto: he needed the car more than she did because he lost his job due to the divorce. The bad news: the car was never seen again. The good news: neither was Philip.
Ob-la-di ob-la-da Life Goes On
Fortunately, as it happned, Julie’s part-time teaching salary proved inadequate to support life in Wichita Falls, let alone make bad loans and donate her car to her now ex-husband. So, to support herself, Julie found a job, with a dramatically increased salary, as Assistant Director Of Marketing at a local bank, a position with the chief responsibilities, according to her predecessor, of assuring that the clock on the side of the bank building displayed the correct time and scheduling local school choirs to sing Christmas carols in the bank’s lobby. Bored after the first eight minutes on the job, Julie began taking on additional work for her boss, who was was delighted to have an eager, quick learner on board and gladly assigned her more interesting tasks as she learned the business. This was to prove important in the future so keep it in mind, but for now, let’s meditate on …
Julie – The Best Of EST
Post-divorce, Julie began dating and, during a momentous weekend she spent with a psychologist, she mentioned that he reminded her of a guy (this would be me) she had known long ago in a land far away. Rather than graciously accept this compliment, the psychologist spent the next 20 minutes informing her that (1) her discontent stemmed from her refusal to let go of the illusion that she could somehow recreate that relationship, (2) she had to “let it go,” and (3) the means by which that letting-go could be best accomplished was attendance at a EST workshop.
He was quite persuasive. Julie agreed that perhaps she had idealized our relationship and that perhaps it had affected her in ways she hadn’t realized.
Ever diligent, Julie indeed signed up for the two-weekend EST course, but also began, more than three years after we had last been in contact, searching for me.
At the EST weekend a month later, despite the Trainer’s specific admonition that the EST experience was noncompetitive so that, he joked, there was no “Best Of EST,” Julie was, naturally, acclaimed – by the Trainer, the staff, and the other clients, the Best Of EST.
The highlight of the weekend was Julie’s impassioned admission to and surrender of the pathological hope that she and the man she hadn’t seen in years (that would still be me) would make a life together – followed by a (literal) standing ovation.
And As For Me
As it turns out, I was also doing silly things during this same period of time. Those confessions comprise the next installment.
Note: Originally posted April 27, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com. The text has been modestly updated.
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.