Sunday, June 12, 2011

My day in court

Jim and I went to court Friday to modify our child support agreement, and while he gave some information to one clerk, I talked to another who was gathering other papers.

It was early at Hampshire Probate and Family Court in Northampton,

and we were the only customers. "My" clerk admired my purse. I told her where I got it (
Skera Gallery in Northampton), and she said she got hers at a similar store. We both agreed we loved these little works of art that are always a conversation piece and are a style called Great Bags made by Maple Leather Company.

No, I have not mistakenly set out to write a post hawking purses. So you might wonder why I am talking about my purse.
Because I've been to that courthouse with Jim too many times to count, and not all have been under circumstances so relaxing that I can chat with a clerk about my purse.

The first time, we went before a judge to file our divorce papers in 1997. There have been modifications since then, and sometimes we were so angry that talked through our lawyers and could barely look at each other.

Friday's was a routine visit to decrease support upon Joe's graduation from college. I wasn't  happy about it, but I wasn't emotional. We simply arranged a time when we could both go, and Jim wrote in an e-mail that it was his turn to buy the coffee and muffins afterward.

We didn't know what the exact amount would be; although we could have done the math, we asked the clerk to run the pertinent figures (mainly income and number of children) through the Child Support Guidelines.

Then we waited for the information to print out.

He thought it was going to be lower.

I thought it was going to be higher.

But as we've heard before, plain and simple, "The guidelines are the guidelines."

I sighed.

"I'm going to have to buy less cereal for the children," I said.

"I'll be able to buy more gas for my car," he replied.

With that, we went to Esselon for coffee and blueberry scones.

We've been in a calm period for a long time. We still have two major things in common: the kids, of course, first, and newspapers, second. 

I'm a freelance writer and therefore not directly involved in daily journalism anymore, but I can talk about it for hours. (I've been gone from the Sunday Republican for years, but when I talk to friends who work at the paper, I still say "We," as in "We need to do such and such.)

 Jim – and Ben – both still work for papers, and I can talk shop with them for hours about certain papers in particular and the business in general.

So Jim and I talked in a relaxed and comfortable manner. During these times you remember that the qualities that drew you together – and that kept you together for years – never really go away, and you're lucky to plug back into them. Of course you divorce for a reason, and so you unavoidably remember why you hated your former spouse, but this doesn't happen all the time.

Jim, who lives in Connecticut, slept on our den couch Thursday so that the drive to the courthouse in Northampton would be shorter Friday and so we could go together. He got here after work and watched TV in the den with Katie and Joe. Katie sat next to him on the couch, looking happy as a clam (whatever that means.) Maddie, having been displaced from her normal spot on the couch, didn't look as happy, but she wanted to be in there. Joe was in good form. I wandered in and out. It was all very lively.

When I came downstairs in the morning, Jim had made a pot of coffee.


Nelle said...

I know so many people who are bitter enemies with their former spouses. When you have children it takes such a toll on them. I told my son's father at the time we divorced that although he was no longer my husband he would always be my son's father. He made a lot of promises he never kept, but I still honor that and try to keep as good a relationship with him as I can. I was still hurt when my Dad died in February and he never acknowledged it. That had been his father-in-law for twenty years. At times like that I remember why I couldn't remain with him and am glad that my contact with him is less and less. I am happy for you that the court house experience was comfortable.

Jonny said...

"You are old Father William" the young man said, "and your teeth are fit for nothing but suet. Yet you managed to devour the entire goose, both the bones and the beak. Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said Father William, "I took to the law and argued each case with my wife, and the muscular strength it gave to my jaw has lasted the rest of my life!"

Grit your teeth...but keep chewing.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Runderful Ronni,

i have so many wonderful memories of the early days, you and i raking in the yard like typical new yorkers, doing it wrong...(how can you rake wrong?) -- jim making fun of us...going through your beautiful home and being astonished by the size of the closets! -- ben's first dinner out at the pizza parlor...jim and you and i assembling ben's first tricycle...

thank you, my darling Sister-Friend...
whom i treasure immeasurably!