When New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley married Lindsey Erin Gates, "the daughter of Toni and Walter E. Gates of Wichita, Kansas," in 2003, the paper's Weddings/Celebrations section carried a notice. There was no such notice for the couple's divorce, but McKinley has been gradually breaking the news in his stories. In February he wrote a piece about resupplying a home: "For the recently divorced man, the process of renesting can be daunting." In Sunday's NYT he writes in detail about his experience going through a Santa Monica workshop that helps people rid themselves of the personal toxins of divorce.
It will no doubt come in for the usual ragging from the chronically insecure of LA for generalizing about the locals, but hey, it's a soft self-revelatory feature that is meant to be more amusing than literal.
Unlike physical cleanses involving cayenne pepper or emulsified wheatgrass — or, God forbid, both — the detox offered here is accomplished through mental means, including “empirically based psychological modalities, mindfulness, psycho-education and life coaching.” (As well as jelly beans and tissues, both of which were always on hand.)
Seemingly tailored to meet Southern California’s twin passions for self-reflection and serious rehab, the company says its detox program can help with 25 “life challenges” related to divorce, including everything from sleep disorders to the fear of “being alone for the rest of your life.”
All of which, they promise, can help people view divorce as a good thing, not “solely experienced as a negative, damaging and tragic life experience,” as the Web site puts it.
There were also, to be sure, practical pieces of advice, like “Cleansing your physical belongings that no longer serve you” (I now have fewer old T-shirts as a result), as well as more speculative personal prognostications, like “Where will you be when this process is over?” (Well, first, I will probably be at the Gap, getting T-shirts ...)
I had been chosen for this assignment — and opted to come in July — for the simple reason that I was getting divorced. And, you know, that I probably needed it.
Sounds like when he followed his counselor's advice to go for a hike, he drove into the hills and picked up one of those Joe Edmiston camera tickets for rolling through a stop sign in the Santa Monica Mountains. McKinley has been a theater reporter for the New York Times and the San Francisco correspondent.