Still Standing

You may see only a barn. I see divorce.

About 40 years ago my parents did what 1 out of 3 couples did
during the late ‘70s … they parted ways.

Irreconcilable differences.

Perhaps this isn’t the best way to begin a story … so back to the barn.

When my dad moved out he was living in a studio apartment on North San Pedro St., which was walking distance to his old office on the second floor of the old City Hall in San Jose. (Incidentally, his future wife worked on the same floor, but that’s another story.)

I loved his studio. It’s the first time I saw a Murphy bed (a pull down bed that is hinged at one end to the wall so that it can store vertically). His studio was also equipped with an old-school fridge. The type your parents warned you about. I recall having to yank on its handle with the same force I used to start our lawn mower.

He usually had milk, eggs, bread, bologna, and a mini pecan pie for me.

Behind the apartment complex was a barren field and an old barn (similar to the one pictured here). I would often go out back and stare at it for minutes on end. At one point I took my sketchbook with me and drew it. (My dad was so impressed with my illustration that he wanted to frame it.)

It was pretty evident that the barn had seen better days. While it hadn’t fallen, its crimson had given way to seasons of sunrise; it was dilapidated, weathered, and faded. No more occupants or romantic sunsets; just cold lonely evenings. Like the last months of my parents’ marriage, I suppose.

If my dad spent any nights sleeping on the couch prior to moving out, he should thank his lucky stars that we didn’t own a barn. It would have been much more uncomfortable sleeping in there.

For the better part of the last 40 years, my parents have gotten along really, really well. Like the many who have experienced the same thing, my parents realized long ago that their differences were no longer important.

The photographer, Macomb Paynes, who took this photo titled it “Still Standing” — like a marriage that has weathered the storms. When I saw it, it reminded me of a marriage that didn’t.

You may see only a barn. I see my parents … who have not only loved again, but are still standing.

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