We’ve been together a long time. We’ve had a lot of great times and I’ve got many memories that I will always cherish. Remember that time we …? No, let’s keep that private.
But we’ve been drifting apart for a long time. Communication has grown strained and has gotten increasingly angry. Our values and our interests have seemed increasingly different. Heck, they’ve probably always been different. I was sure you would change, and I was sure I could change you. Isn’t that the lie we always deceive ourselves with in these relationships?
I kept hoping the spark I felt in my youth would return, but now I have to finally admit that it’s over between us.
I no longer love you, America.
Some of my friends have been telling me for a long time that you were wrong for me, that I was too blind to see your true nature. I thought their judgment too harsh, and I always defended you: Yes, I know about the flaws but they didn’t know you like I knew you. I can’t bring myself to say that anymore. This saddens me.
That’s one of our problems: we don’t even have the same friends anymore. These days you just want to hang out with your rich friends, and honestly I can’t stand most of them. They have so much yet they seem indifferent to the people who helped them get it. They never seem satisfied and complain if they have trouble getting more. I’m sorry but I can’t take their selfishness anymore.
When I bring my friends over, however – people who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths, people who have worked hard for tepid rewards – you barely make them feel welcome. I’m still not sure how much you’re tolerating my black and gay friends. My God, when I let our immigrant gardener into the house to have a snack or a cold drink of water, you scream, “Get him out of here!” And when my friends are in the house at the same time as yours, the screaming, yelling and name-calling is too much for me to bear.
Yet for all your wealth, you have so many of your family members in prison, more than any other family I know. Somehow this doesn’t bother you. Nor do I understand your fascination with weapons. You aren’t the least bit troubled by the family members that assemble an arsenal of weapons; hell, you even want to make it easier for them. When your nephew shot up a mall, you solemnly said, “What a shame,” and went right back to what you were doing. I wonder if I ever truly knew you.
You always told me that you were special, that you were the best one for me, and I always believed it. But now as I’ve gotten older, my eyes have begun to wander. I’ve been coveting our next-door neighbor for a while. When I told you that their net worth was now greater than ours, you practically spat – “They’re Canadians! Plain and boring. They don’t have the excitement in their lives that we have!” Yet I continue to stare across the driveway, finding myself craving my neighbor’s stability, compassion and basic human decency.
I’m especially jealous of our European friends. They seem so much happier than us. Our Dutch friends are always sending us postcards from their vacations and they never seem stressed. Our French amie had her baby recently and was raving about her paid maternity leave. Even our German friend, when he got sick, seemed content because he had dependable health care, just the opposite of when I needed that surgery last year. I read their emails and I start feeling wistful.
Oh, I remember the good times we had when we were young – trying to figure out Dylan’s lyrics, arguing about the latest Scorsese film, analyzing Archie Bunker and Mary Richards. I still recall the night we popped the champagne when Nixon resigned. Times were a little tough at times – the gas shortage, high inflation and a recession, the crime-filled neighborhood where we lived – but we were sure things would get better because we had confidence in the future and the naiveté of youth. We’d drift off to sleep with wine on our breath and love in our hearts.
Heck, we don’t even watch the same things anymore. When we go to the multiplex, it’s always the flicks with the boring shoot-‘em-ups, the nonstop explosions, the ridiculous superheroes and the apocalyptic scenarios. If I suggest a nice adult drama, you sneer and say, “If I wanted a reflection of life, I’d just stay home and look in the mirror.” When we watch TV, you always turn to those vapid reality shows, which have no connection to any reality I’ve ever seen; I’m usually rolling my eyes after the first five minutes.
So I’ve thrown in the towel.
No, I’m not going to file for divorce. For one thing, I’m sure your high-priced lawyer would crush mine in court. Besides, I’m too old to go looking for a new partner. We have a big property, so we can coexist. I’ll pay my share of the bills and try to maintain a civil relationship. Hell, I’m even willing to consider reconciliation but only if we negotiate on my terms. Until then, we’ll be sleeping in separate beds.