Hello

Four years ago, I met a young millennial CEO for a drink.  Little did I know, how dangerous that day would become.  How I would soon fall in love for another man, who was not my husband.  And how it would lead to gut wrenching pain for the next several years of my life.  I didn’t go with the intention to cheat on my husband.  I think this is where the lies we tell ourselves really start to snowball.  We tell ourselves it will just be a drink.  Ten minutes of saying hello.  Some chit-chat and pleasant conversation.  And then, once the drink is over, we will say goodbye.  Walk away.  Never look back.  And that would be the end of things.

I remember driving up to this quaint, seaside restaurant and wondering where I should park my car.  I was wearing jeans, a silk top and black leather ankle boots.  As I entered the restaurant, the early morning sunlight was just starting to reflect upon the water.  The maitre’d asked me, “Are you here to see Mr. Beach?”  I must have blushed because he had a very sweet smile on his face, like he already knew the answer (and that he knew this was some clandestine occasion). “Yes I am.”  I thought he could hear my pounding heartbeat.  That’s how nervous I was walking down those steps.  “He’s waiting for you.  Downstairs and on the right.”

It was a beautiful location, picked by CEO and it was surrounded by a multitude of boats and yachts.  An adjacent boutique hotel sat on the ocean front, while the restaurant we were meeting at was located down in the marina.  Every step I made to get closer to CEO, I could hear the echoing of my heels clanking upon the hardwood plank flooring.  As I looked around at empty table, upon empty table, I realized we had the entire restaurant to ourselves- as if he had booked out the whole place just for us.

He was sitting at an outside table, scrolling through his phone with Prada sunglasses covering his eyes.  When he looked up from his screen, he broke out into the biggest smile.  Stood up.  And hugged me. “Hello there Kate.  It’s nice to finally meet you.  I’ve ordered you a glass of Chardonnay.  Here, please sit.”

He truly made me feel comfortable right off the bat.  My nerves melted away as he began to talk, and talk-  asking me a plethora of questions.  I couldn’t help but think how normal this all felt.  “I saw a Prius drive down the road.  Was that you?”

“No, I don’t drive a Prius…do you?”

“No, I have a BMW.”

“Oh- those are fun. I have one too.  A 5 series.”

Our conversation never dragged on.  There were never any lulls or awkward silences.  We were interested in everything each other had to say.  It felt like a date- and I hadn’t felt like that in over fifteen years.

As our conversation continued to flow effortlessly, we opened up about work, our kids, our lives, our travels and the start-up he just sold.  Looking back, and recounting this story now, I can objectively say that during the course of any long-term relationship, you lose this.  You lose the ability to be so fully engrossed in another human being, like you do when you first meet someone.  You just do.  It’s life.  There’s no debating it.  It’s how the human mind works. There was an immediate magnetic pull to one another, yet there was a complexity to our relationship- where neither one of us could fully read the other. Nor knew where we stood.  We were still taking information in.  Still evaluating eachother.

I only had a certain amount of time that I could be there with CEO.  And he knew that.  So after our drinks were consumed, I was kinda shocked when he asked if he could walk me back to my car.  It threw me off to be honest.

In my head, I was thinking, “But I have more time I can spend with him. He must not like me.  Or I must have given him some weird vibe. ”  I was really thrown off- unsure how to read him,  or the situation.

When the waiter brought our check, he pulled out his credit card.  I must have grimaced because my brain immediately calculated that this would leave a paper trail.  And how stupid could he be?  It triggered my internal “red flag” warning system.  A signal, that went against my better judgement, and would go on to play a significant role in my inability to fully trust him in our relationship.  My intuition said he was reckless and not intelligent enough to cover his tracks.  Exactly the kind of guy who would make a terrible affair partner.

I will give CEO a bit of credit for reading my non-verbal cues immediately.  Because he looked at me, and tried to reassure me that everything was OK by paying this way.  “Oh don’t worry.  When I sold my start-up, I had my accountant take 30k and place it in an E-trade account.  This is my fun money and my wife does not see any of my business expenses.  Only my accountant does.”

Whether that was true or not- I’ll never know.  It did have the unintended consequence of alleviating some of the concerns I had about him.  I started rationalizing that perhaps, I was a little too quick to judge. Maybe he had more discretion than I gave him credit for.

As we walked to my car, the morning sunlight gave way to the harsh and intense afternoon rays.  I was still trying to calculate the situation, but my intuition said he wasn’t attracted to me.  Namely, because we were all of a sudden walking back to my car and not sitting at that table ordering another drink.

And thats when he placed his arms around the small of my back, pulling me closer into him.  His left hand traced the outline of my jawbone, as seagulls squawked in the distance.  As my brain frantically tried to catch up to the situation, he mumbled something about, “Whether or not we would have that intense chemistry…”

When then, his soft lips met mine.

There was passion, and electricity.  And we fit perfectly together.  Plus, he could definitely kiss!

When we finally untangled our tongues and embrace, he stood there staring at me intently.  I started fiddling with my purse, dangling my keys between my middle finger and pinky- unsure of everything that was transpiring between us.  I was rapidly still taking in information about him- trying to decipher what the hell I was even doing here.  When all of a sudden, he reached into his right pocket and pulled out a room key.

“A ROOM KEY?!?!?!?!?!?!” I thought.  My eyes literally bulged out of their sockets. WTF?

“Five minutes.  I just want to hold you for five minutes in my arms.  No sex.”

I was SO caught off guard, that I was stumbling over my words.  Nothing remotely intelligible could come out of my mouth in that moment.  I was speechless!  This was supposed to be for just a drink.  Even thinking back upon it now, still makes me shake my head in disbelief.  I was completely out of my element.  And surprised that this man (who had never even met me), had just sunk several hundred dollars on a boutique hotel suite, on the off chance that I might say yes???

That’s pretty brazen.

And forward.

And pretty stupid.

And definitely the antithesis of how my husband was back then.

When my initial shock finally wore off, he said I started laughing nervously.  He would go on to recount this story several times over our relationship.   And I would recount how he had this sheepish grin on his face, all while doing so.  But I also distinctly remember feeling overcome with a sense that I was finally with a man who knew what he wanted.  A man that wasn’t afraid to make a move.  A man that wasn’t afraid to take chances.  A man that wasn’t afraid to plan something.  And a man who wasn’t afraid to fulfill his (or my) fantasies.

Considering the state of my marriage back then (remember my head-in-the-sand-beta-acting-husband), I couldn’t help but think, “I finally had found my alpha male.”

When I drove away, my phone pinged with a message from him.  In the subject line it read: Where we first met.  He had sent a photo of our table and the view he had looking out on the marina.  Awe- could this alpha male have a sweet sentimental side too?

And then my phone pinged again.

“It was very nice to meet you in person. You are just as stunning as your pictures and as sexy as my dreams about you. I loved your lips against mine Kate. Thanks for meeting with me and trusting me. Looking forward to seeing you again.”

At the next stop light, I had to close my eyes, taking several deep breathes in and out. I needed to be a Mom again.  I needed to resume my real life.  And get back to my responsibilities.  To my kids.  I tried to steady my heartbeat but CEO had unleashed a flurry of butterflies.

From that point forward- my life, my thoughts, and marriage would never be the same again.

 

 

 

 

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Music

It’s summertime.  And in my house, that means adventure.  I’m a big travel junkie and I like to travel to off the beaten path.  It’s one of the things I let go of, when I first had my kids.  And it’s one of the things I purposely restored in my life, after I examined my overall happiness post dday.

Last week, I went off the grid with my kids.  Packed the car up and hit the road.  Just the three of us.  We weren’t even out of LA when my daughter fished out a CD, which I didn’t even know was in this car (I rarely drive it anymore).  Traffic was thick, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what she was doing but the next thing I know, the lyrics started up and it took me back four years.  Memories of immense pain and longing bubbled to the surface as I kept my eyes fixated on the road.  I must have listened to this CD a thousand times, I thought.  Music put into words what my heart and mind couldn’t say back then.  I couldn’t believe she was actually playing this.

I think of you
I haven’t slept
I think I do
But I don’t forget
My body moves
Goes where I will
But though I try my heart stays still
It never moves
Just won’t be led
And so my mouth waters to be fed
And you’re always in my head

My mind instantly went back to CEO and how these words would echo through the chambers of my heart.  Every word from each successive song matched the emotions back then.  How apropos that I was on a journey, looking back at the most painful journey of all.

“Did you remember to pack my bathing suit mom?”

And just like that, I’m snapped back to reality. “Yes honey.  It’s in your bag.”

”Can we eat the chips now?” my son chimes in.  “Ummmm, no buddy.  We’re not even 20 miles from our house and you are already asking for food?!?”

The music fades as the kids chat about Pokémon, why I took their iPads away for summer and if we will see a bear (like last time we went off the grid).  I let their conversations drift into the back of my mind as the lyrics took center stage.  The next song begins and my mind suddenly travels back in time.

Call it magic, call it true
I call it magic when I’m with you
And I just got broken, broken into two
Still I call it magic, when I’m next to you

I remember being split between my husband and CEO back then.  Neither getting all of me.  It broke me into two- literally.  And definitely wrecked my spirit juggling these two relationships…and yet, there was magic between CEO and I.  Undeniable magic.

Dating an entrepreneur is fraught with difficulties.  First, they are married to their start-ups.  And their time isn’t linear.  This posed problems in our relationship.  I learned through knowing CEO that my love language is time- and there never seemed to be enough of it.  I need that face to face connection in all of my relationships.  Daily contact was there via technology, but nothing replaces looking into each others eyes.  Seeing the way his eyes danced as he recounted a story.  Or hearing his laugh.

As I drove along the highway, I reflected back upon the negative undercurrents of our relationship.  The lack of real, valuable time together.  Did I think we could improve the amount of time we spent together back then?  Most definitely.  I truly believed we could find a middle ground there.  I believed we could find our way.

And if you were to ask me
After all that we’ve been through
Still believe in magic?
Well yes, I do
Oh yes, I do
Oh yes, I do
Of course I do

My wanderlust was dimming and so had my conversation with the kids.  Vivienne looked over at me and asked, “Are you okay mom?  You seem distant.  Like you are thinking deeply about something.”

“Yes sweetie.  I’m fine.  Just going over in my head everything I’ve packed.”

”Did you remember the bacon for Zane?”

”Oh crap.  I didn’t pull it out of the fridge.  Can you google for the nearest Whole Foods on mommie’s phone?”

Needless to say, we had a little detour before we got out of proper LA.  It was a nice break from what had been going through my mind.  But the second we got back in the car, my daughter continued to play the album with the significance lost on her.  Each song was like a journey into my past.

Got a tattoo that said “together through life”
Carved in your name with my poker knife
And you wonder when you wake up, will it be alright oh oh
Feels like there’s something broken inside
All I know
All I know
Is that I’m lost whenever you go
All I know is that I love you so
So much that it hurts

Urgh- the pain started brewing in my chest.  The hurt was unreal back then.  In an instant, I was brought back to the turmoil of loving two men.  One I had built a life with.  And one, I had fell in love with.   My broken heart realized I needed to box up that love and ignore it for life.  I loved Nial so much and this song tore at my heart, every time I heard it.  Memories came flooding back.  Me- leaving my house for the first time, after I had confessed.  Driving away from my neighborhood.  Then once I was at a safe distance, just screaming at the top of my lungs.  Trying to get everything out, so my kids wouldn’t see my pain.  I was conflicted.  Truly.  Knowing I had purposely dropped an atomic bomb on my relationship with CEO so I would be forced to do the “right thing”, even if my heart was utterly in love with him, was gut wrenching…

“How much longer till we transfer freeways mom?  Do you think we will be able to find a swimming hole or waterfall once we get there?”

“Don’t you fret my pet.  Mom’s got it covered.”

The melodies faded into oblivion, while giving birth to the next song.  Miles tick over on the odometer as the road opened up.  As I juggle the past and present, memories of Niall continue to flood to the surface.

For a second, I was in control
I had it once, I lost it though
And all along the fire below would rise
And I wish you could have let me know
What’s really going on below
I’ve lost you now, you let met go but one last time
Tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie, oh lie to me

“Are we going to stop for lunch on the way?”  Zane asked softly.  “Yes darling.  We will get lunch soon.’

And then the keys on the piano begin.  Notes take shape.  Softly, yet full of every conceivable emotion.  It rhythmically tells the story of my heartbreak, note by note.

A flock of birds
Hovering above
Just a flock of birds
That’s how you think of love

And I always
Look up to the sky
Pray before the dawn
‘Cause they fly always
Sometimes they arrive
Sometimes they are gone
They fly on

A flock of birds
Hovering above
Into smoke I’m turned
And rise following them up

Still I always
Look up to the sky
Pray before the dawn
‘Cause they fly away
One minute they arrive,
Next you know they’re gone
They fly on
Fly on

So fly on
Ride through
Maybe one day I’ll fly next to you

They fly on
Ride through
Maybe one day I come fly with you
Fly on
Fly on
Fly on

I’m stronger now.  I’ve forged a new path.  But it’s in moments like these, I realize just how far I’ve come.  And how I can listen to Coldplays entire Ghost Stories without bursting into tears.

And yet…I still miss him.

Thats what 4 years post Dday gets you.

Girls Night

I went out with what you could say is my closest girlfriend last night.  She knows about CEO.  It took me a long time to open up about him, but with the demise of her marriage two years back, I felt I could finally trust her with this information.  We sat over dinner and I even had a cocktail (I’ve only had 1 drink in the last 2+ years).  It felt nice sitting there catching up on her life, her relationship problems and laughing at the crazy things our kids say and do.  The topic turned to CEO and I told her about him logging in to that account and that I could see his active status.  That I knew he was thinking of me.  And that he just sold his start-up to a major tech company.   She brought up the following story, which I am now ready to share.  Its long since passed, so its kind of irrelevant at this point.

Shortly after telling her about CEO two years ago, I invited her to a charity event.  It was held at a swanky hotel in Beverly Hills and I bought a table, filling it with mutual friends.  It was a daytime event, and we were all dressed up to the nines.  I knew she would enjoy a day like this.  Her father is an iconic actor, so events like these don’t phase her in the least.  I can bring her anywhere and she’s that friend you don’t have to babysit.

We decided to drive to the event together and as we approached the hotel, she told me she had to pee!  So instead of queuing up, we headed immediately to the ladies restroom.  Afterwards, we both made our way back to the entrance of the grand ballroom.  When I was about 4 feet from the main hotel entrance, a group of three women entered the hotel right in front of me.  Looking back, it reminded me of that movie Sliding Doors, where if you had changed direction for a brief moment- things could have been wildly different.  It honestly happened that fast.  As I was briskly walking towards the ballroom, my subconscious must have recognized who it was.  Because as I walked past the group of jabbering ladies, my head turned ever so slightly to focus on their faces.  For just a moment.  And thats when one of the women looked past her friends faces while continuing to talk– and towards mine.  It happened in a millisecond and my slight hesitation to look in their direction obviously caught her attention.

Our eyes locked- for the briefest of moments.

Yep- it was CEO’s wife.

Again.

Ugh….

My best friend and I schmoozed our way through the event, having a great time.  I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t run into her again, considering there were over 500 women in attendance.  I headed towards the bar, where I ran into an old high school friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.  As I was talking to her, CEO’s wife was weaving through the pack of women to get to the bar.  She got as close as two people away from me, and no doubt- she was studying me for the few moments that she could.  I wouldn’t expect her to say anything, especially at an event full of women.  This was not the time, nor place for any first talk.  But she was definitely observing me.  That I am confident in saying.

We sat down for the luncheon and thats when a woman came over to talk to my best friend.  I’ll call her A.  A- as it turns out was sitting at the same table as CEO’s wife.  So clearly, they know one another (yes- the circle of our friends is getting THAT close).  After A left our table, I motioned over towards their table and whispered to my best friend, “She’s here.’

She knew immediately who I was talking about.  She looked over, studied her hair and face pausing pensively, till she broke the silence saying, “She looks familiar.”

Now because of who my best friend is, I don’t really put much stock into when she says things like this.  Because of her family background, she knows everybody (but like in a casual- I’ve seen that person in films or TV way).  So I really didn’t take it seriously- nor freak out.

Best Friend, “Like I’ve talked to her before.  I’m pretty certain we’ve met.”

By this point, I’ve stopped eating and turned to her to really gauge what she is saying.  This whole time, I’ve been talking about CEO and she may even know his wife?  REALLY?!?  I could feel my vegan salad about to hurl out of my mouth, when she suddenly said, “Kate- Oh my God.  I just realized how I know her.  She works out at my gym.  They pair you up with partners someones and we’ve definitely talked before.  I see her pretty regularly.”

All I could think to say back was, “Are you kidding me?”

“No-not kidding.”

“Whatever you do, you can NOT accept a friendship request from her on any social media.  I don’t care what happens, you promise me?  She would see everything online as we post so many things about our kids etc.  She can not have a window into my kids lives.”

“I promise- I won’t.  I would never do such a thing.  I get it…”

We left it at that…had a wonderful time.  Didn’t talk about it any further, nor let her presence bother us (we were at this event to raise money for a great charity after all).  The conversation was shelved and we laughed our asses off catching up over life, our kids, the men she is dating etc.

When it was time to leave the event, I looked up and CEO’s wife’s table was completely empty.  I was so busy chit-chatting, I hadn’t even noticed her party exiting past our table.  Shortly after, we decided to get up and leave.  As you can imagine, the valet was a zoo with 500+ women all needing their cars at once.  My other friend had purchased the center piece for our table, and she needed to use the restroom.  So she kindly asked if I would hold it for her, till she got back to the valet.

So here I am- standing there at the valet, holding this ginormous centerpiece which weighed a ton.  It’s taking forever for my friend to come to the valet and take it back from me.  Its also taking forever for the cars to move, because all these women are fluffing about putting things in their trunks and generally holding up the entire flow of the valet line.  Cars can’t get in, as its only three cars deep.  And thats when I suddenly see her out of the corner of my eye– CEO’s wife darting out of the glass doors facing us, to her waiting car.  I could have died.  You couldn’t have created a more comical experience, whereby we are forced to be stuck very, very close to one another.  It was like something out of a bad movie.

I cracked a smile to my best friend, “Oh geez, I thought she left.  But she’s right there.”  By now we are cracking up together, yet none of our other friends realize the awkwardness of the situation.  I whispered, “Should I put this centerpiece here *covering my face*?”  By now we are just trying to get our damn car so we can leave said swanky hotel.  When I turned to my best friend and said, “Is she looking over here?”

And right at the moment- she slowly inched forward in the que of cars driving out of the hotel valet line.  And as she did, she turned her face and gave me the dirtiest look.

Me, “Did you see that? Or am I imagining things?”

Best Friend, “Oooooooohhhhhh yeahhhhhhhh—that was the dirtiest look ever.”

Me, “So its not my imagination?’

BF, “No- that was definitely directed to you.”

And that my friends is the moment I knew 1000% that CEO’s wife knew who I was.  Up until that point, she was nothing but a woman void of expressions.

***

…The following Tuesday

….at the gym

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

Sold

I had a dream last night.  It was so vivid.  I had walked into a restaurant, and as I did, an extremely well dressed man turned away from the bar and approached me.  He was easily over six feet tall.  As we side hugged and said our hellos, the quality of his wool coat was not lost on me.  He was dressed impeccably down to his perfectly shined shoes.  And wore a sheepish grin on his face when looking at me.

I was wearing black slacks and a black sleeveless silk blouse + sexy high heels and a small clutch purse.  I think I had gone to the restroom or something and I was weaving my way back to the table, where my daughter was waiting for me.  I had noticed a man trying to make eye contact with me, as I moved through the crowd.  But I never broke my gaze to look at him directly.  But the gentleman who began to speak to me did- while turning his body towards mine, blocking my way greeting me with, “Kate! I was hoping I might run into you here.  Join me for a drink, will you?”

I remember feeling incredibly flattered that this man had sought me out.  That he changed his day, just in the hopes of crossing my path.  He was a business associate that I had met briefly recently.  At least that was the feeling I got as he spoke to me (this was a dream after all).

I wanted to sit there and share a glass of wine.  To talk about whatever he wanted to talk about.  He was charming, engaging and had a quiet assertiveness about him.  It was at that moment in my dream that I noticed, I was genuinely enjoying his company.  But I was shocked to realize this…because it wasn’t CEO.

****

I don’t dream of other men.  And can’t recall ever doing so.  But I did last night.  And I have no idea what it all means.

But as I awoke from this dream, I stumbled for my phone in my pitch black bedroom.  I soon realized it was now 3:30 AM.  I started reading news, getting caught up on emails, looking over schedules and planning my work flow for the week.  When I finally saw the news.

CEO’s start-up was just acquired by a major technology corporation.  I knew this was his exit plan all along.  But seeing  the news brought up a mix of feelings.  I’m so SO proud of him.  But it’s also bittersweet for me to process.  Every time an investor rejected his idea, or he lost an investor he originally thought he had- I was his cheerleader during that rollercoaster.  In a weird way, it’s the last vestige of our relationship.

As they say, life does indeed move on.

Part of me wants to reach out and say Congratulations.  To hear his voice smile…

But I won’t.

And it’s gut wrenching.  Because I truly miss my friend.

I cant help but think now that he has sold his start-up, he suddenly has “time” again.   Hence, why he logged on to where we use to communicate.

I guess you could say- old habits die hard.