It’s called a flow state — the condition of total immersion in a project — and I experienced it the other night in art class.
I was working on a piece intensely and after an hour or so, I glanced up at my phone and thought, oh, I need to tell P. that this is great, but that I will be home soon.
My hand was hovering over my phone when I fully remembered that no, P. was no longer my husband, and that our marriage of sixteen years had ended abruptly some eighteen months previous, that we do not communicate at all anymore…within seconds I re-entered and caught up with full reality.
It was really something to remember it all at once, and it left me feeling shocked and sad. Shocked because this divorce has so occupied my mind that I couldn’t believe I was able to totally forget it had happened entirely, even for an hour. And sad because I realized that although I have moved on in basically every single conceivable way, there’s a cellular memory of being married that lingers in my subconscious or unconscious — some deep part of me that has yet to get the memo that the marriage and the relationship has ended.
It’s funny because this happened right after I returned from a trip to Napa — a place we’d vacationed together many years ago, and where I haven’t been since. I couldn’t remember which wineries we’d visited way back then. I’m sure he remembers; that’s the sort of thing he would remember.
I didn’t just shoot a text over to ask him, of course. For one thing, it would be very weird for me to break a brokered and beneficial silence to ask an unimportant question about a vacation we’d taken many years ago.
For another, I still can’t reconcile my memories of that person– the husband of the Napa trip– with the person he has shown himself to be since our separation. These seem like different people to me entirely.
It’s a weird thing to adjust to: essentially it’s coping with a death while the “deceased” is still alive. I’m doing a good job of it, on a conscious level. But apparently it will take more time for the deeper layers of my psyche to catch up with the fact that the version of the man I remember, the one I’d still like to communicate with — he’s simply gone.