The last Thanksgiving I spent married to my first husband, he fried the turkey. He researched deep fryers, visited several groceries at the last minute to get enough peanut oil. For some reason, it had to be peanut oil; I think it had to do with smoke points…or something. Anyway, he gathered all the information and ingredients, and we had fried turkey. I don’t remember if I liked the turkey fried or anything else about Thanksgiving 2001, except that he fried the turkey in the backyard, and then he left the fryer there.
I was a lot like that fryer. Untended. That’s how I felt at least. My then-husband felt that his obligations to me ended after providing a very comfortable life and his commitment to being a good Christian husband and father. In many ways, he was both, but for the entirety of our marriage, I’d had emotional and sexual needs that went unmet. For example, aren’t Christians allowed to be freaky in the bedroom? I’m pretty sure there’s a Scripture that says that… At any rate, I felt untended. I was lonely and married, and I can think of few worse combinations.
After announcing that I wanted a divorce, followed by an announcement that I was willing to try counseling again, followed immediately by a bout of depression that left me unable to get off the couch except to tend to my kids’ most basic needs, followed by a gradually increasing dosage of Lexapro, followed by enough mental and emotional clarity to understand that I would die inside if I remained married…we separated in January 2002. He left the house…and he left that deep fryer in the backyard.
The year 2002 was quite the bullshit year. My best friend was in a near-fatal car accident that February, I briefly dated a con artist sociopath in September, and in October, my father died after a long illness. In November, I spent a week in Vegas with a guy three years my junior who was amazing in bed but not worth my time outside of bed. And my brother attempted suicide in December.
In early 2003, I decided to take a break from dating…sort of. During this hiatus, a friend came to visit over Memorial Day weekend and help me out with things in the house that needed to be fixed or thrown out. I asked him to properly dispose of the grease in the deep fryer in the backyard and then get rid of the deep fryer. He did this efficiently as he did all the other jobs I asked him to do or help me do. But when he dealt with the whole deep fryer situation in a matter of minutes, then came back and asked, “What next?”, I burst into tears.
I had become complicit in the shame of leaving the deep fryer in the backyard. My ex had technically only left it there for 2 months. I figured I had picked up where he left off and left it outside for a year and a half. I was pissed off at him for leaving the deep fryer and for leaving me alone, emotionally and physically, during the marriage, always promising to get around to us, but never doing it. I was pissed at myself that I couldn’t get my shit together enough to do a simple thing like dispose of the goddamn oil, and clean and put the deep fryer away.
And I was pissed that I stayed and allowed myself to be taken for granted as long as I did.
So I cried and cried. My friend was confused. Between sobs, I told him about feeling untended for so long, and he nodded and held me.
Then I slept with him. A beautiful man, originally from the the Dominican Republic. It was underwhelming.