Rare spices permeate the Grand Bazaar. (Istanbul, Turkey)

Spices, and splicing life

by Helen Holter
Rare spices permeate the Grand Bazaar. (Istanbul, Turkey)

Rare spices permeate the Grand Bazaar. (Istanbul, Turkey)

 I BOUGHT NEW SPICES THIS MORNING. My divorce was final one year ago, today.

In an earlier life, I used to cook from scratch, everything. My husband liked that; so did I. I paid attention to my spices, changing them out at the spice shop every six months–Martha Stewart’s recommendation. I even taped dates to the bottom of each jar. Those dates stopped in 2008.

In 2008 on a Seattle Sunday afternoon walking together in the Costco parking lot, my husband halted. I anticipated his familiar leaning into me to share a joke or note some absurdity. No. He suddenly pivoted in front of me, blocking my step: face flush, pupils slit, his voice a voice I had not heard before.

HE SAID, I DON’T LOVE YOU. I haven’t loved you for years. I’m divorcing you. And in that moment he did divorce me, pulling off his wedding ring and trying to force it into my purse. Like so many things. I pulled my purse back – not this time. He said I wasn’t ‘evolved’; none of our friends were ‘evolved.’ None of us were good enough for him, and he deserved the best. Huh? Just two weeks earlier we were vacationing in Turkey, where he professed his perpetual love for me and said we’d return next year.

He did not love me. He did not love me. He did not love me. And then my husband drove off.

IN HIS DRIVING OFF and out of my life in that Costco parking lot on that sunny Sunday afternoon, October 26th, 2008, perhaps it was grace that allowed me not to know the road ahead for the next 2.5 years. Although the divorce was final one year ago today, legal matters dragged on until a few weeks ago. The road, frightening: discovering my husband’s sudden and apparent bipolar mental illness; his secret spending; his private matters of which I knew nothing–usually shared before vowing ‘I do;’ his disappearance; his refusal to communicate except through lawyers, skyrocketing legal bills.

As a trained journalist, I took on ‘legal discovery’ in my own case, uncovering mysteries of the man I married, untangling messes of marital assets. Who knows such things might litter the road ahead when you stand so confidently, so trustingly, before family, friends, pastor, God?  When you say ‘I do,’ forever? ‘I seek your best,’ forever? These sacred vows of a covenant relationship, forever…

It is grace, this not knowing… grace that leans into hope, grace that leads me home.

I am home.

 I HAVE NOT COOKED FOR OVER TWO YEARS.  Scooping them into bottles, these spices are spilling onto my skin, their fragrances infusing my skin. I have fresh spices. I don’t feel like cooking today, but maybe tomorrow. And the day after that.

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