I'm a sucker for the Vows column of the New York Times, in which couples enumerate the pleasures and vicissitudes of their particular schlep to the altar. I like the soppy details, the tear-gland-wringing anecdotes, the ever-so-slightly snarky quotes from friends.
It is true that the one time a couple I knew was featured, they were featured so rosily as to be unrecognizable -a shocking, pepto-bismol distortion of themselves. But I still save Vows for last in my Sunday paper perusal, savoring it as the climax of a long and pleasurable liturgy. And if I don't read the column religiously, I do read it with more than a hint of the supplicant's fervor.
It's with some degree of puzzlement, then, that I declare an even greater affection for Unhitched, the column that spotlights divorce. Unhitched is most frequently published on the facing page from Vows, where it looms over smiling brides and grooms like a memento mori: DIVORCE WILL COME FOR US ALL. Or 50% of us, give or take.
I'm all for schadenfreude, but there's very little of that bubbly brew in my enjoyment of Unhitched. Rather, I'm head over heels for the storyboarding. The marrying couples in vows have to pour their stories into a single mold: meet-love-marry; what's more, their individual narratives must cojoin, compress into a single tale of how-we-met.
The divorced couples in Unhitched, on the other hand, have a whole pile of narratives at their disposal, and in many cases, these narratives diverge: one spouse talks of blossoming, while another speaks of getting over the hump. One spouse speaks of fight, another of flight. Divorce is, after all, a fracturing of narrative- one person's tale splitting from another's in the telling.
Ergo, more story -and often though you might not think it, more love. There are so many splendors, Unhitched assures us- and only some of them require you to stay.