Separating: GenX Style

Recently I reread John Updike’s I think pretty well-known short story, Separating, in which his fictional couple the Maples, characters Updike wrote many stories about, separate. I guess I wanted to see how much of it rang true for me in my current situation. I suppose some of it did. After all a separating must have some very universal qualities, regardless of the people involved. Still, it didn’t really give me what I wanted. What did I want anyway? I’m not exactly sure. I’m not saying it isn’t a great story, because it is, one of my favorites. But my mind these days, obviously because of my situation, is about what happens after the separation, how one forms their life, and their family. Separating ends just before the actual separation takes place, practically speaking anyway — all the children have been told, not its just a matter of the physical move etc.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it strikes me that so many, probably the majority of stories/novels/movies/TV shows that have been concocted about separating and divorce are about the events leading up to. The afterwards is often relegated to the denouement. And I’m interested in is what comes next? Is what comes next so standard and expected and considered uninteresting that it isn’t worth writing about, dramatizing? Maybe not. I don’t know. But it is what I’m interested in, right now anyway. Perhaps only because Im in it.

Anyway. This kind of goes back to a comment that Colleen left on an early (the first?) post about this particular subject. She talked about how she thought this was worth writing about, ie a couple with child separating and attempting to forge a good and positive dynamic in the afterworld of marriage or whatever, unlike so many divorces, which can get so ugly and mean. We did not want ours to devolve into that. I’ve no first hand experience in such matter, although I know people and have heard stories, and I’m always just taken aback by how vicious and petty people can be. I’m not saying I don’t get, because I think I do, how a person’s pain can turn to vitriol. I’m just saying I don’t want to be that way.

I guess I associated these ugly dramatic kinds of divorces mainly Baby Boomer, unfair or not. But the time has come it seems for Generation X to take on separation and divorce. I know that suddenly it seems as if more and more people my age, of my generation, are divorced, getting divorced, and perhaps should get divorced. I freely admit that I have heeped many a harsh criticism against Baby Boomer who can’t seem to hold their marriages together. Considering my circumstances I suppose it would be hypocritical for me to continue in that vein, but you know what, I’m okay with that. Besides, I’m hardly going to feel stung by “whose high and mighty now” criticism from any Boomers, arguably the most hypocritical generation to walk the Earth.

Separating/divorce is a fact of life. I obviously can’t deny that, now can I. But I think that one can work to to forge a better dynamic in the aftermath of separating/divorce, that one can strive to retain more of one’s humanity, to not degrade one’s self along with others by allowing one’s self to slip into petty and demeaning and just plain mean behavior. That’s what I’m working toward. And I’d like to thing that other GenXers going through the same thing are more likely to strive for that as well, much more so than our ego-inflated elders in the Boomer cohort.

But who knows for sure, right? We could be even worse at it. Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yeah… I know. …that was pretty hilarious. How could any generation be worse at marriage and divorce then the Boomers?

3 responses to “Separating: GenX Style

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