Divorce can mean different things in different circumstances. When I accepted that we should get divorced, my assumption (initially) was that I would just rent an apartment elsewhere in the same city, and that we’d continue co-operating in raising our child, at least for a significant period of time, or until one or the other of us had a better idea. I assumed I would still be seeing my wife 6 or 7 days per week, partly just because she would need my help (on a daily basis) with caring for my daughter, and in helping with a range of trivial duties (that become difficult when your hands are always busy with a small child).
There was no such period of time. I agreed to the divorce on January 10th, and my wife was on an airplane (with my daughter) on January 14th.
So we arrived in Canada with a plan. Soon enough, we’d leave without one.
In writing this, I’m aware that I’m writing a story that isn’t interesting, but I don’t dare make it more interesting. As I warned in the first chapter, all of the parts are extraneous, and (unlike fiction) they don’t add up to any kind of greater whole.
What I thought of as my long-term future in Canada disappeared as soon as my wife decided to quit her job there. I’ve already discussed this in my Youtube video, “Why I Stopped Learning Cree”. My wife made the decision that she would quit her job and try to get pregnant more-or-less simultaneously.
In many ways, that was a smart idea: if you’re stuck in a job that you want to quit, then the period of unemployment between the job you’ve got and the next one you’ll get provides a long pause to devote yourself to taking care of a baby. In terms of the timing of maternity leave, the process of relocation, and many other boring details, the plan was smarter than it seems, especially for two parents who don’t have an extended family to help them with the baby (and who both need to be unemployed, at least for the first year, due to the lack of any other hands to help take care of the infant).
I couldn’t come up with a good way of putting this into a video, and I’m reluctant to post reflections of this kind online as text, partly because the written word may lack the same sense of sincerity, and partly because I’ve really lost my faith in anyone having the ability to read without adding to or disregarding what the text really says.
I also lack the most basic conviction that helps egomaniacs become great entertainers: I just don’t think that my own story and experience are significant for much of anyone else, and I’m not really motivated to make an impression on anyone, one way or another.
However, there are two strong motives that shape what I'll now say, and what I don’t say: I’m aware that one day, eventually, my daughter could be seeing this, and I’m aware that (even now) my ex-wife could have co-workers and bosses seeing this --and so if I say too much, it could cause problems for her.
For the sake of my daughter, though, I don’t think I can say nothing at all.
The question might be asked by her (or by anyone) of how she ended up being born, and then separated from me a little less than one year later, and why she grew up without me, while I was (strangely) learning Chinese, all alone, in Taiwan.
The answer is interesting, but like many stories that are true, it’s composed entirely of extraneous parts that are not drawn together by any single theme or direction.
So, what follows here is a set of autobiographical reflections that may be of interest to only one person many years from now; however, it explains the circumstances of that one person’s birth, and of my separation from her.
"...we can't always understand the character better by breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces; sometimes, instead, we have to put the atoms together into molecules, and figure out what the relationships between them might be."