In the State of Texas, community property is split 50/50 in a divorce. It’s great in theory, but in reality it often means on-going bickering and a prolonged divorce date, followed by inevitable resentment. Over stuff. You know how they say that one man’s sh*t is another man’s treasure? Well, in a divorce, all of your sh*t becomes treasure when it comes down to dividing it up. That chair that he thought was hideous and wanted to get rid of? Suddenly, he can’t live without it.
My divorce took 14 months to finalize, but stuff wasn’t our issue. When my ex moved out, he had already pawned or sold all of the things that had value, so he took almost nothing. Not even his clothes. He was dating someone who was twenty-something and our old stuff seemed outdated, including his attire. (Ladies, nothing spells trouble than a husband that suddenly dons trendy jeans and smells like an Abercrombie & Fitch store. And where did your chest hair go? Did you shave it or something? ) Anyway, my point is that he walked away without wanting a thing. I was still in denial, so I left everything sitting in its place, awaiting his return.
When he moved into an apartment near his girlfriend six months later, I had gone from denial to the bargaining stage of grief. I was trying to be the best soon-to-be-ex-wife anyone could hope for Then he would change his mind and come home. (Don’t judge. I see how crazy that is NOW. A short five years later.) I lovingly packed his clothes and other personal effects into labeled boxes. I divided up kitchen utensils and furniture and stacked it in the front room for him to pick up.
“What is all of this crap? I don’t need any of this. I’m in an apartment. I don’t have room for any of this.” Translation: “I want to buy all new stuff for my new apartment with my new girlfriend.”
Off he went with some of it, and the rest went into the garage awaiting his return. (Or my death which I was quite sure was imminent in my grief-stricken state.)
So in the State of Texas, there is usually a statement in the divorce decree that says that whatever you have in your possession on the day you sign the final papers is yours to keep. You might fight about the crap for over a year, but once you come to a decision, that’s it. Move on.
Suddenly, my ex remembered that he had stuff. “What about my stuff in the garage? I want it, but I need to get a storage unit for it.” I told him to come get it.
Until after the divorce when I started dating again. He literally had a meltdown. He called me hysterical about his stuff. Not about me, mind you, just his stuff. He didn’t want another man in his garage using his stuff. Ummm…I’m pretty sure that he has his own garage-o-stuff and isn’t interested in your crap, I mean Budweiser neon signs. But whatever you want, come and get it.
This time he did. And not only did he take his stuff, but everything else that wasn’t nailed down. In fact, he tried to take the pegboards that were nailed to the walls, but that’s where I drew the line. “Hey, hey, hey, you can’t take those. They came with the house. They’re attached.”
“Just by these screws.”
“Yes, thank you for proving my point. That’s pretty much the definition of ‘attached.’”
Other than the pegboards, there were only a few things left in the garage. Pegboards minus the pegs because he pulled those out and took them. “You don’t need these because you don’t have any tools left to hang on them.” Idiot, you don’t have any pegboards. After a brief argument on who had a yard to mow (me) and who didn’t (him), he left the lawnmower. But once again, he showed me. He took the extra lawnmower blade. Sigh.
To be honest, there was one item that I didn’t want to see go. For Christmas that year, his father had given us an outdoor fire pit. He had asked me what we wanted for Christmas, and I told him that we would love to have one for the backyard. I envisioned having friends over and sitting around a fire. I envisioned the kids roasting marshmallows over a fire. It never happened, of course. It was still in the original box on the day that The Ex came for his stuff. Even still, I wanted to fulfill my vision. And he totally did not want me to. “It was a gift from MY father, so you can’t have it.” GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! And that was the end of the stuff retrieval.
Or so I thought. Since that time, there have been more than a few occurrences when my stuff has gone missing.
Ring. Ring. “Hello?”
“Have you seen my iron and ironing board? They’ve suddenly disappeared.”
“Oh, yeah. Do you need those?” [Insert my eyes rolling back into my head.]
Now you see why I have a need for a security system. Not necessarily to keep strangers out, just to keep one strange man out.
In 2012, when he decided to rent a house, I was once again nice and boxed up some towels and blankets and kid stuff to give to him. (And perhaps a knife set. Hint. Hint.) He had lost his storage unit and all of the stuff in it, so I knew that he was moving into this house (as stupid as it was) with nothing more than an air mattress. One night, after taking the boys to see the new house, he followed them into their rooms at MY house with a tape measure. “I’m just going to measure the boys’ bunk beds. I think one of those would fit perfectly into a nook in one of the bedrooms.” I can’t tell you how many times I had to repeat, “You can’t take a bed. The boys sleep in them here.”
And that’s not all folks! Last night, he sent me a text that said, “Can I come get that gun safe out of the spare closet?”
No, I’m kinda using it.
“For what? What guns are left in there?”
“Did we get remarried?”
He didn’t get it. He sent several texts and left messages to harass me to find out what guns were in the safe. I’ll tell you what guns. The none-of-your-business kind. The guns-that-you-didn’t-find-valuable-enough-to-pawn kind. To be even more specific, the guns that before your father died, he specifically said not to give you because he wants his grandsons to have them. And you, my dear ex, have been known to pawn a gun or two or four.
Alas, I doubt its over. I’m sure that there will be more harassment at the boys’ soccer game on Saturday.
More than that, it doesn’t seem that there is an end in sight for this division of property thing either.