What if we are all Most Likely to Be Divorced?

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I read today that Vanessa Trump, who filed for papers five to seven minutes ago vs. the evil-who-shant-be-named's eldest child, was named "Most Likely to Be Divorced" in her high school yearbook. Oof. And she was named "Most Likely to be on Ricki Lake." Also, oof. I am guessing that wasn't to talk about natural childbirth and grinding placenta into pills. (More oofs.)

The designation in a yearbook felt stabby, maybe because it was created by asshole teenagers who self-elevate by putting others down. And even if that's something she exuded or even aspired to out loud, putting that to paper for all time feels like a bad message to the universe (and not just about Vanessa). 

I was a kid who believed at one point I'd be married a few times. That wasn't because it sounded like fun. It is because all of my aunts had been divorced and several of them had multiple husbands. The aunt I was closest to, whose sweeping style was luxe and polished, was brash, glamorous, independent, fun and funny, and cussed like a goddamn sailor. I wanted to be like her. In my growing mind, that included having several husbands who could make things like Jaguars and box seats at the horse races and ridiculous Christmas presents and a condo in the same building as Oprah, all come true. The glamorous life, I thought for a time way back then, required marriages plural.

I didn't know a lot back then. Like how my aunt's marriages that seemed healthy, wealthy and happy in a ten-year old's flashing pictures of memory were really laden with abuse, infidelity and addiction. I didn't consider that my aunt, who never graduated from high school and was a teenaged bride and mother, rose up over and over again on her own. She blazed her own path into careers that we know would insist require a master's degree or venture capitol or something else she surely didn't have in the last few decades of the last century. She became a buyer for a national furniture chain, did interior design, owned a high-end children's clothing boutique, proclaimed herself a shaman, moved across country and opened a fine arts and jewelry store, chaired galas, raised lots and lots of money from socialites and business owners for major nonprofit organizations. She had her own luxury sports car when I was a kid (a convertible at that) and a stunning apartment overlooking the city, and she wasn't married at all then.

She wasn't and isn't an easy person. She has her own demons. And in blazing that path, she burned past and through people I do believe she greatly loved or respected or wanted near her despite what she said and did. She's old now and there's no longer a need to rehash our own difficulties or emotions. We also connect, mostly over being ambitious and fiercely our own women, but also over divorce and dating stories and single mothering. 

Where we don't connect is politics (that is all I will say on that) and, interestingly, in that package deal I once bought into about attaching one's self to a rich husband (or just, man) in order to live your best life. I was young and impressionable and swayed by the intoxicating haze of Oscar de la Renta perfume that surrounded her when I thought being like my aunt meant marriage/divorce/marriage/divorce/marriage/divorce. Perhaps she, as a beautiful, brash young women in Southern Illinois in the 1940's was indeed "Most Likely to Divorce" and maybe I would have been, too, had I continued seeing only half the picture of my aunt and others who I idolized. 

But I didn't. The image got clearer, quickly. I am not sure exactly when or how, but what crystallized for me was something that I've really known my whole life – I am on this planet to be a writer and a mother. 

I became both. I didn't want to be divorced, but I am. And (as wrenchingly painful and also expensive in all ways as it was) it has probably been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime. I've protected myself from being divorced another time by intentionally opting out of marriage for now, but I no longer see it as the worst thing that could happen in my world nor the key to grasping the glamorous life.

Whoever Vanessa Trump was in high school, whoever she is today and whoever she will be long after this divorce is finalized, I can say with assurance that her own glamorous life has been expensive, too. The more important story for her – and for each of us – is not what her yearbook "predicted" about how her life would unfold, but what images and intentions she's placing on the blank pages she's turning to now.

I hope I have the chance to talk more with my aunt about what she really wanted for herself, what she learned, what advice she has and all of those things we want for big, influential personalities in our lives to share before their own lives end. I want us to meet there in the middle of our stories, where the glamour takes different words and shapes and pathways, where there is no one way we think we have to be just because it is all we have seen or someone too long ago told us that  is who we are. 

I wish us all well, Vanessa and my aunt and even me, as we keep deciding for ourselves what we are most likely to want, to do, to find, and even to be.