I wonder a lot about the role I play(ed) in your life. If I’ve brought you more happiness than sadness, more joy than torment. And not just me, myself, but the whole ME, our love and lies, everything that’s happened in your life as a result of merely knowing my name.
Have I told you before that women have affairs to leave a marriage, but men have affairs to stay married? I read that somewhere, maybe Shirley Glass’s Not “Just Friends,” which had all kinds of terrible, debasing things to say about our relationship. Maybe some of them were true, and maybe some weren’t. But I know that that particular sweeping generalization about men and women did turn out to be true in our case. I wanted out, and you wanted to stay.
I’m not sure what this truth means for us. I always knew that you were better at compartmentalizing, and by extension maybe even better at polyamory, than me. I saw the words you exchanged with your wife on Facebook the day you last wrote to me. Sixteen minutes before your email arrived in my inbox, in fact. Written in the same sitting at the same computer. Maybe you even had both windows open in your browser at the same time. Words of gratitude to her, words of apology to me. Breathing in, and then breathing out. Typed with the same fingers, conceived in the same thought.
I’ve always wondered how the hell you do that, but maybe it’s in your blood. Maybe it’s even your birthright. Maybe I made it easier for you to stay married, as you were able to have your cake and eat it too for a while. If your marriage were lacking passion and passion were something you needed, I gave that to you. The list goes on and on. Thrill, excitement, secrecy, youth, control, recklessness, illicitness, rebellion, destruction. Sex.
In my lower moments, I wonder if it really was just sex shrouded in a nobler veil. We both have morals, however questionable. We needed a better reason than that, so we created one. We elevated it to love, compared it to the purest love possible. We felt closer to God. We flew like saints. We said our “hallelujah”s. And then we came tumbling down and down.
Did we both get what we wanted? I’m happier now than I’ve ever been as an adult. It feels hard won, but I’ll take it.
“I’m trying to focus on all the ways I am blessed. But I keep wondering why I didn’t live my life with enough faith that you were in the world somewhere and that if I were just patient enough, I would find you, and we would be together.”
while listening to this:
made me cry.
My mom has Sirius radio in her car. On the way there we heard this song.
On the way back, we heard this song.
Thank God it wasn’t the Ella Fitzgerald version, because that probably would’ve broken me.
My mom suggested we drive around my old campus on the way back, so we did. I haven’t been there in two years. There are so many new buildings. The duplex I lived in junior year has been torn down. When we took the new road behind campus, I was very aware that I was yards, not miles, seconds, not minutes, from your house.
We stopped at the new Subway by campus so I could relieve my bladder before making the remainder of the drive. It was deserted but the women’s restroom was locked, so I went into the men’s (it was a one-person kind of thing). I thought about what I would do if I opened the door and found you waiting on the restroom, but of course I didn’t have to find out.
My mom wanted to stop at the liquor store by the Dollar General on the way out of town because for some reason she was thinking it might be cheap. But I told her on state line I was pretty sure it’d be more expensive, and when she pulled up and saw its tiny size decided not to. I know the odds of seeing you there were greater than the odds of seeing you at Subway, so I was equal parts relieved and disappointed.
The mind-boggling thought of accidentally bumping into you nearly drove me mad, which is what makes the proximity so terrible. But I don’t have to tell you that.