"I'm organizing an event for the Divorce page based on the popular slideshow on our site, 'The Moment I Knew', and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions of who I might reach out to for it...we'll be featuring 4 to 5 people sharing short (3 to 4 minute), first-person essays based on the moment they knew their marriages were over--funny, poignant, honest, revealing--kind of like the slideshow itself. Is there anyone you can suggest I reach out to?"
I'm not sure how to feel about the fact that my friend immediately thought of me. "You'd be perfect!" she said.
I am divorced. I can finally say that now, after three years of trying to be divorced and not succeeding. (Until very recently, New York had the most prehistoric laws about divorce in all fifty states, including Louisiana.) But one of the reasons our negotiations took so long was because my ex tried very hard to get me to sign a legal document swearing I'd never write about the divorce OR the marriage, effectively eliminating ten years of a memoirist's material. Of course I refused to sign such a thing, never ever ever!, but the implicit threat of his anger and outrage at any public disclosure of what happened still hovers over me. Yes, I knew I had to write about it one day. But I figured I'd write a novel and have done with memoir for good and all -- especially in light of the irreversible irony of the title and subject of my first book, "I Do But I Don't: Why The Way We Marry Matters." (Please don't tell me the sequel should be "I Didn't." Because you'd be the eight millionth person to have that original idea.) And then I got this email. Just a short essay. Three to four minutes. About the moment you knew your marriage was over.
I immediately said yes to Sara, without really thinking it through. I was thinking more about She Writes, and what a great subject this would be for all of us to tackle together, at least those of us for whom it's relevant. The fact that I'd agreed to talk about my divorce in public, and not just in public but in the Huffington Post, did not fully dawn on me until Sara and I spoke by phone and she peppered me with probing and thoughtful questions about my marriage and its end -- an old story with a fresh twist given my status as a "wedding" expert after publishing my first book.
"Are you interviewing me?" I asked her, gripped by a frisson of panic. She wasn't. But that doesn't change the fact that come Tuesday, April 5th, I will stand up in a bar in New York City and tell it: the moment I knew.
Will you stand with me? Do you have a story to tell? Share it here, and your entry may be one those selected for a special "She Writes" slideshow to be featured on the Huffington Post after the event. Enter the Huffington Post #themomentiknew contest by emailing your 600-words-or-less essay to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, April 1st, and maybe you will read with me in New York, or at an event the same night in LA.
Don't live in New York or LA? No problem -- you can organize or attend a Huff Po meetup in your hometown and invite fellow She Writers to read their short essays over coffee or drinks. Even if you never had a marriage end, you probably have experienced a moment when you suddenly saw, in vivid technicolor, the end of something you thought was never-ending. Write about that.
I hope you do one of these things. Because that moment on the phone with Sara was the moment I knew I needed the courage of your convictions -- and your willingness to tell it, and tell it true -- to see me through.