Man, I don’t know (Part 2)
It’s 1am and she’s not home. I only know this because I’m just getting back. I pull into our driveway and prepare the speech. The speech that I’ve been constructing for the last 5 hours. I had left at 8pm and been driving ever since. The big “I’m leaving you” speech was something I had been grappling with for months. I wrote in in my head line by line, and then tucked it away when I pulled it into the driveway at the end of each day, so that I could fully commit to the role of emotionally absent husband.
I heard her talking on the phone to her friends, “He says nothing, he does nothing- he’s an emotional black hole and he is turning this house into an icebox w/this cold war.” I guess fucking other guys doesn’t make you a villain. I guess throwing away over 5 years, doesn’t make you the goddamn villain.
But it’s fine. Because wherever she is, whoever she’s doing, she’s only my problem for a short time more and then I can get the hell out of here.
Because you see, she’s been so preoccupied with her own torrid affair, she has managed to completely overlook mine.
She was blonde and so fucking beautiful and she was mine. In the office she walked one day to apply as an intern and I could barely hold it together. She got the job and she was perfect-smart, gorgeous, and funny. The way she looked at me over her glasses made my toes curl. But I was a married man- shackled by the metal around my fourth finger. The 2nd day I didn’t wear my ring, she asked about it.
“Trouble in paradise?” she asked, pushing up those thick rimmed glasses and nodding at my hand.
“Oh, uh…” I mumbled, uncomfortable with the direct question. I hadn’t expected the outright inquiry- I assumed the ring being off would send a subliminal greenlight that she would just pick up.
“No..just forgot it.”
“Oh, yeah…all my happily married friends forget their wedding bands too,” she said replacing the glasses.
“Would you and I be having a different conversation if I was in an unhappy marriage?” I asked.
Where the fuck did that come from??
She smirked- impressed by my boldness.
“Yeah,” she smiled, “I guess we would.”
For the next month we had competitions to match each other’s wits. Her laugh was my prescribed antidepressant. Her glasses? Fuck man, they were just pure alcohol- they got me drunk until I was stupid.
She liked coming over when my wife was gone. She said she liked the danger- I liked the idea that my wife rolled into a soiled bed every night after she showered and texted her boyfriend “goodnight”. Her clean body dirtied by me in such an incredibly different way than before. She and I used to spend days in bed together. Friday after work I would come upstairs to her, showered, asleep, and tucked in- I would wake her up by kissing every piece of her. We would spend 36 hours interlacing ourselves with random interludes of “Seinfeld” and “Friends”. We would come undone just to knit ourselves back together. But that seems like years ago.
Now, I drive my 24 year old girlfriend to my home….and kiss her on every surface in my house. I use her body as an eraser removing all old traces of the moments my wife and I spent there. She’s on birth control so we walk in and we are on each other immediately, recklessly. I lift her shirt up enough to kiss her stomach after I put her on the kitchen island and she wraps her legs around my waste and wraps her hands behind my neck and I am holding her again. We are in the connected dining room on the white carpet floor and we stay here only long enough to shed our pants before she is tugging my hand toward the bedroom. She jumps under the covers and pulls them up to her neck, giggling. I laugh and shut the lights and drop to my knees and crawl until I am at the foot of the bed.
“Babe, don’t scare me!” she is hysterically laughing. I crawl under the covers on blow on her feet and she laughs again, jerking away. I crawl up between her legs until I am blowing on her thighs- almost kissing them. Then I am. And I’m kissing her thin underwear. Then under them. And nobody is laughing anymore.
2 hours later, I’m holding her in my arms, both of us exhausted.
“Where is she today?”
“Mmmm-“ I protest, burying my face in her hair.
“No, just tell me so I can actually relax.”
“She’s at work baby- she works later on Fridays. Let’s take a shower and then we can grab dinner.”
She nuzzles into me and now it’s her turn to protest.
“I just want to know what it’s like to sleep next to you for a whole night.”
“I know- you know it’s coming soon enough.” I had been looking at apartments- she knew that.
“I want you to end it with her- I want it to happen tonight. It’s been months. I’m over this bullshit. We love each other- she’s obviously having some sort of fucking affair,” this caught me off guard. I had never shared my suspicions with her….was it this obvious to everyone? This stung because even when you know…you hope you’re wrong.
“I want it to be over. I want you,” she said with finality.
“Fine,” I responded finally. Fine.
I conceded- I would break the news to my wife when she came home. Except I put off coming home until 1am and she hadn’t shown up at all and this immediately erased any and all hesitations I was foolishly holding on to.
I was coming home to an empty house for the last time and soon, that all she would have.
My wife’s name is Tilly- short for name she hates. We met when I was 31 (she’ll tell you 32, but that’s because she doesn’t remember the real first time.
She was mid-black out at the office Christmas party. She was so pretty but so unaware. Her hair was black with blunt bangs- a cut that “framed her face” she drunkenly explained to me. She went on to tell me her friends had talked her into it to try to get her out of the “end of a relationship rut”.
“We were together for two FUCKING years,” she practically yelled, “and that fucker left because he needed to focus on school?” she wailed, incredulously. “Bullshit!” she punctuated. “You’re very handsome, by the way,” she stage whispered to me, to the amusement of our eavesdropping coworkers.
“And you’re incredibly pretty,” I smiled.
She blushed, either from embarrassment or vodka sodas, and meandered off, leaving a trail of irritated partygoers that she pushed past in her wake.
We spoke again, 4 months later (now I’m 32). We both got into the elevator and shared a few moments of awkward silence after quick hellos. She went to get off and in that moment something took over and I held the door and yelled out.
“Yes?” she turned around, puzzled.
“You’re bangs look great.”
What I’m sure she thinks was my first stab at hitting on her, was really just a sad dope trying to remind a very pretty, albeit uncertain, girl about a forgotten conversation- a girl he hadn’t gotten off of his mind in months.
Her shoulders relaxed and her smile- that smile- it lit up her whole face.