Cats and Pawn Shops

IMG_2824So much has happened since my last post. I have taken the last few months to think about the rest of 2019. I know for sure I want to continue healing. Yesterday, I manifested some healing in two very unlikely places that made for a deeply intense day that I need to write about. It had been a heavy week emotionally – lots of highs and lows on the life rollercoaster. By Friday evening I was drained and needed to go inward. I took that evening to recharge, to think, and to ask the universe to send me what I need most. I set an intention to be open to receive it when it revealed itself to me. When I woke up the next morning I felt a deep need for a cynical touch point – someone or a group of someones who would just “talk shit” with me about all I have gone through because their feelings of collective indignance towards my situation would be rooted in their love for me.  

I then get a message from one of my favorite cynical friends. The first time I met her, I was late to a sorority meeting. She called me out and talked shit about my lateness in the most direct way I have ever seen anyone speak to a stranger about their values.  She was honest, direct, and funny which I really appreciated. I wondered: if she is this honest with a stranger, how honest must she be with her friends? We’ve been friends ever since. She told me that she had an extra ticket to see Cats at the Pantages and invited me. We made plans to meet up at the theater and that is where things got interesting…

The Musical Cats: just people dressed as cats introducing themselves. 

I’d heard of the musical Cats but had never seen it and was excited to go because I love musicals. I was so excited that even getting there was fun. I walked in the rain to the metro, the rambunctious little girl inside of me splashed in puddles on my way there, I got hot chocolate from my favorite coffee shop, I had Gloria Estefan bumping in my headphones for the metro ride, I admired the fun art in the Hollywood and Vine metro station, I made cat puns about what I was going to do “right meow” – all of it was an extension of my excitement. I get to the theater, we grab a drink and catch up quickly before the performance begins. Still fun, still excited. Then the music starts. Here we go… CATS!!

Through the first song, I was admiring the costumes, the feline movements in the dances, the creepy kitty makeup. In the second song, I noticed the scenery – it looked like a dirty kitchen or maybe it was supposed to be an ally? I don’t know but I thought “they will do some sort of narrative set-up” between songs so we can follow along with the story. Maybe after this song? Nope. It was just another song – more cats introducing themselves, more dancing, still no story. This went on for 3 more songs. I turn to my friend – the look on her face was a cross between confusion and disgust. “Do you get it?” she said. “It’s just people dressed at cats introducing themselves,” I replied. “I mean I’ve done that at work meetings – maybe we’ll get some context about what this cat meeting is about at some point?” She looked at me, she looked at the program, she looked at the stage, and she looked at me again and said: “the second half of this is just more of the same.” We made a plan to endure the rest of the first half, grab our drinks at intermission, and then decide what to do. The last song that played before the intermission was Memory – even though I didn’t get anything until this point, this song was beautiful and moving. I found myself breathing deeply into each lyric and admiring the way the cat moved along the stage reminiscing, grieving, and trying to be hopeful all at the same time.

At intermission, we grabbed our drinks (which we had prepaid at the start of the show – best idea ever!) and continued to debrief our confusion. “I still don’t get it,” she continued, “I just don’t get why people love it.” I told her how the last song felt like it resonated but that like her I too was lost and was ok with leaving. She said “so we’re leaving. What do you want to do after this?” I thought about it. What would be a good thing to do in Hollywood with one of my closest, most honest, and most cynical friends? The first thing that came to mind was the perfect thing to ask a cynical friend to do with you, a thing I was putting off doing alone because I was just not cynical enough. “Let’s go find a pawn shop and pawn my wedding rings,” I said. I had been carrying them around in my purse the last couple days with the intention to do it myself but never did. Then my friend said the most perfect response to that request, one I will never forget: “Down but let’s finish our drinks first.”

When deciding how much you love someone ask yourself: would I sit through the second half of Cats for them?

As we were finishing our drinks, we saw the couple that was sitting next to us. My friend went over to them and said, “Hey are you guys staying for the second half? Because we don’t get it so we’re leaving. You can have our seats if you want.” They looked at us and then the husband responded, “Oh my god we don’t get it either! We were just trying to figure out the story but it’s just cats singing.” His wife was shaking her head and laughing. At that moment we bonded instantly with this nice couple on the second-floor bar of the Pantages. The four of us formed a passionate coalition of collective confusion about Cats. We drank and ranted together trying to come up with an answer for what the hell we just sat through and came up short. Then the husband asked, “so where are you going instead of sitting through the rest of Cats?” I responded, “we’re going to go find a pawn shop and pawn my wedding rings.” This couple’s reaction to what I said was like facial expression equivalent to a record scratch that stops the music at a party. I then proceeded to tell this couple my one minute story of how I got here including all the painful milestones: miscarriage, infertility, depression, divorce, ex knocking someone up, and now not getting wtf Cats is about. The wife hugged me and said, “wow you’ve been through a lot.” The husband said, “well that is a good reason to walk out of Cats.” And just like that, the coalition of confusion came together again, this time to discuss the reasons why one would sit through the second half of Cats. We even came up with hashtags: #SitThroughCats or #WalkOutOfCats.

We agreed that when deciding how much you love someone the most prudent question you can ask is: would I sit through the second half of Cats for them? The couple was going to sit through the second half. Why? Because his mother made a whole plan to watch their kids so he and his wife could have a nice night out on the town alone. They love her and their kids enough to sit through Cats for them and figure out what the hell this musical is about. I, on the other hand, had my engagement right and my wedding ring in my purse weighing me down. I loved myself enough walk out of Cats to go get rid of them right now. My cynical friend loved me enough to walk out of Cats to go with me even though she paid for these tickets.   

So we leave the theater to find a nearby pawn shop. On our way to it, I reflected on the symbolism of being in Hollywood. This neighborhood held deep significance for the beginning and breakdown of my marriage. We took our engagement photos in the colorful alleys of this neighborhood with eyes full of love and hope over being on our way to that whole “I want to grow old with you” and “happily ever after” life. We lived here during one of the hardest years of our marriage where many, many things fell apart. This was a year when I saw my partner having a hard time, taking inconsiderate actions, and making careless choices that hurt me deeply. Choices that crossed the line and pushed me to almost end my marriage. I didn’t do it because when I got married, I did it for life, for better or worse. The year we lived in Hollywood was one of our “worse” chapters. I stayed because I thought our “better” chapters would be ahead. I stayed because this was the person I chose and committed to. Part of choosing a person to make a life with is also choosing to love them when they do things to you that make them hard to love. Part of keeping a commitment is staying the course long after the “nice feeling” you felt when you made that commitment leaves you and all that is left is hurt. I wish I could have said that my partner felt the same way. I wish I could say I had a partner who chose to love me during the hardest year of my life when I was a hard person to love but I can’t. Now here I was driving around this neighborhood looking for a pawn shop to leave these rings and all they represented behind. Before going into the pawn shop, my friend took a photo of me in front of the beautiful bright yellow walls. I thought maybe it was an omen for the sunshine that would be coming in my life after so much rain.

Pawn shops are like purgatory for the belongings of broken people, broken dreams, and broken relationships. 

It was my first time ever in a pawn shop. I looked around at all the stuff. I took in the smells, the music, the protected glass in front of the cashier, and the bars around the displays. It was like I was standing in a place that was a combination of a thrift store and a prison. Like purgatory for the belongings of broken people, broken dreams, and broken relationships. I walked up to the window and gave the man the rings. He said, “how much do you want for them?” I thought about this question for a moment. How could I put a monetary value on my pain, my broken heart, and over a decade of my time wasted? “As much as I can get for them,” I said. “Ok,” he said, “it helps if you give us an amount.” I thought again, I looked at my friend, she shrugged, I shrugged and then said: “I don’t know $800 bucks?” He said he would see what he could do.

He took the rings to the back to where he and his colleague examined them. I saw them pointing and discussing them through the glass barrier. Holding them up to the light, weighing them, putting them under some microscope thing. The man came back and said, “I don’t think we can do anything close $800.” He said he didn’t want to insult me by telling me how little they were actually worth. I said “this was my wedding and engagement ring. I am divorced which means I have already been insulted. I don’t want to keep them. So how much can I get for them?” He looked at the rings again and started to explain to me how the silver they were made of is not very heavy, how the diamonds they each have on them are small and too cloudy, how they don’t really have much resale value as they are so they’d probably just be scrapped to make something else. Everything he said about the light silver and cloudy diamonds felt like it applied to my ex: something that you hope will be valuable but lacking the substance and clarity necessary to actually be worth something. We settled on $50 for the rings. I signed some papers, collected this micro-fortune, put it in my purse, and walked out.

I burst into tears as soon as the door to the pawn shop closed behind me. The tears stopped me in my tracks. My friend held me for a moment and then said, “I might not have been invited to your wedding but I am glad I was invited to the end of your marriage.” Between breaths and tears, I did my best to muster up a hopeful smile as I said, “you’ll be invited to the next one.” Then I leaned against the beautiful bright yellow wall of the shop where she had taken such a joyful picture of me just a few minutes earlier and just sobbed with my whole body. My friend held me, she rubbed my shoulders, and she watched me sob until I got myself together enough to walk to her car.

Being the “bigger person” is a heavy weight to carry.

In the last 6 months, I had processed my divorce on so many levels. I am an overthinker, which is a blessing and a fault, so I had “thought” long and hard about my feelings, my reflections, and my next steps as I ended one chapter and started another. What I never did was just FEEL it all. I never felt myself grieve the loss of the emotional investment I made in this person. I never felt myself be angry at his duplicity, his selfishness, his cowardice in choosing to leave when things became “too much” for him. I never felt the pain at having my substance and clarity rejected. I never felt my rage at his search for greener, easier, and less complicated pastures. I never felt the grief of my family who was as upset as I was about being duped by a person we let into our tribe with open arms. At that moment all of those feelings came out of my eyes and framed my face in tears.

I wish I could say that I left all my tears there in front of that pawn shop but I didn’t. My body was not ready to stop crying and it needed a safe space to fully fall apart. Tears continued to flow out of my eyes the whole way home. I tried to hold them in so I didn’t look like a crazy person on the train and during my walk home. My chest was shaking as I rushed to get inside my house. The moment I closed the door of my apartment, my safe space to fall apart, I started to sob again. I called my bestie on FaceTime and she talked to me as I sobbed over all the feelings I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in the last six months. Feelings I didn’t let myself feel because I was too busy thinking, planning, and executing the tasks of my new life as a divorced, single woman. Feelings I didn’t let myself feel because I was trying to just be the bigger person through all of this. But being the “bigger person” is a heavy weight to carry. I had carried that weight for the majority of my marriage already so I knew it well. No matter how thoughtful, or diplomatic, or respectful I want to be about this whole situation – my feelings still needed to be felt and expressed. 

“You can’t keep walking around acting like he didn’t do you dirty,” my friend said. I know she is right, I can’t keep walking around like that. Trying to reframe all this pain and hurt into joy and meaning is noble but exhausting. My pain, my anger, my tears needed to be expressed and witnessed. I needed to make the time to do it so that my body wouldn’t just take the time without my permission like it was doing that day.  So there in my safe space, I felt my pain, tears, and anger. I accepted the truth that I was married to someone who took from me (took my love, my time, my money, my kindness, my trust) and when it was his turn to give me the same amount effort and time back because I needed it desperately, he bailed on me and that shit hurt. It hurt when he told me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. It hurt when he told me that loving me was too hard. It hurt when he told me that I wanted too much. It hurt when he said that our marriage was too much work. It hurt when he said he didn’t want to have kids with me or ever. Then when he walked away in peace, left me in pieces, and had the audacity to say he was doing this all for me – that shit didn’t hurt it just filled me with rage. 

The day was a rollercoaster just as full laughs and good stories about the rain, the feline-themed musical we didn’t get, and a pawn shop that felt like purgatory as it was full of tears and pain. It was also full of love and gratitude for my friends and my family – who showed up to be my support system and my safe space to fall apart. Because of his duplicity, I walked out of marriage not knowing who the fuck my partner was. But I am proud and grateful to say that I walked out of my marriage and that pawn shop $50 richer and knowing exactly who the fuck I am. 

I will be using this $50 micro-fortune to see the second half of Cats. I love myself enough to do it for me. Plus after reading the lyrics to the song Memory, I have a feeling this musical has more to say that may resonate. I’ll leave them below just in case they speak to you too:

Midnight
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Stay tuned for my reflections on the musical Cats in another post 🙂

Thanks for reading.

-D

2 thoughts on “Cats and Pawn Shops

  1. Take the feelings and continue to let them inspire your fingers to create these masterpieces. Love you my sister!💜

  2. Beautifully said. I am glad that you have allowed yourself to sit in those feelings. You are “doing the work”. #NoPainNoGain love you!

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