Amuse-bouche

After coming home from my run, showering and getting dressed, I snuggled up under my duvet pulling out my iPad.  There I sat with my eyes closed, listening to the silence of our home.  All I could hear was the beating of my heart and the occasional dog barking in the distance.  I knew I didn’t have long to formulate my thoughts.  The kids would be arriving back soon, so I started pecking away at the glass screen.

When I was done writing, I opened Facebook and saw Billy logged in.  My heart raced even faster as I contemplated sending it immediately or waiting till after he logged off.  In the end, I chose to send it then, while he was active.  Talk about nerve wracking.  Billy read it in real time, as I switched between the two applications.  A solid lump formed in my throat as the “Seen at” time stamp updated, adding to the theatricalness of it all.

 

I have so much to say Billy.  I wrote you a letter but I’m just going to cut and paste it into Facebook.  I wish we could have spoken face to face, just to get some closure.  As you can probably guess, I talked to Laura today.  I am grateful that you were honest and candid with her.  I wish you could have had the courage to do that with me.  I definitely feel like I have more clarity now.

(Seen at 5:04 pm)

I said before that I wished I could undo meeting you.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  You showed me that I am just as capable of cheating on my husband, as my husband was able to cheat on me.  Although nothing happened between us, it’s given me a new understanding of how easy it is to get sucked away from your spouse.  And for that I thank you.  I think this whole experience has given me a deeper understanding and a deeper sense of forgiveness for what my husband did to our marriage.  And that I’m not perfect either.  It’s a good life lesson for me–something I needed to learn/see for myself.  Obviously, two years hasn’t been long enough to heal.

(Seen at 5:05 pm)

I still think you’re a good guy Billy, always have.  But I do think you have a lot of issues which explains why you are not close to people, and frankly why you are still single.  For the record, there is no elusive “perfect” woman.  There will only be a perfect moment when you stop playing musical chairs and finally commit to someone.  Don’t be afraid to love or commit Billy.  I promise you.  It’s amazing to do things for the people you love and not live a solitary life.

You know I’m a risk taker at heart.  I laid it all on the table when I felt something between us after all these years.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  But if you don’t throw the dice, you lose every time.  Do I regret it?  Not at all.  I felt something the second I saw you staring at me from across the bar.  Chemistry like that doesn’t just come along everyday.

(Seen at 5:05 pm)

Yes you made it clear you wanted nothing to do with breaking apart a marriage.  But your messages said you were “overly” attracted to me.  But I was married.  However, once I was single, we would be a possibility down the road.

I told you I wanted you in my life.  And you replied, “maybe”.  Reading your messages one last time, I really felt like you were keeping the door wide open.  Keeping your options open.  I get it, you’re single.  That is what single people do.  But at each junction of me stating how I wanted you in my life, you never once stepped up to say you didn’t want me in yours.  I just want you to be honest with me Billy.  Good or bad.  I can take it.

(Seen at 5:06 pm)

Laura explained that you didn’t want to hurt me.  I respect the fact that you shared that with her.  It only reconfirms that there was something between us, whatever that was.  If you didn’t care for me in some capacity, I don’t think you would have considered my feelings at all.  But that is water under the bridge now.

Seeing so many old friends reawakened something in me.  I miss everyone.  We use to all be so close.  And we certainly shared a lot of laughs along the way.  At the very least, I will come out of this staying in contact with several people who I drifted away from.  I just wanted to clear the air with you so that if by chance we ever bump into each other, it’s not awkward.  Or at the very least, won’t be as awkward.  There might be another party one day, or someone has a kid or something….and well, it just might happen.  Who knows what the future holds.  We might just laugh about this at the next reunion when your bald and ugly and certainly no longer hot (Can you please be ugly at the next one?  It will make things so much easier).  And by the way, I am going to look stunning at the next one just to rub it in–hahaha 😊

(Seen at 5:07 pm)

Anyways, I have thought long and hard about whether or not to tell my husband.  But it would only hurt him.  Right now we are discussing a trial separation, but everyone is saying I am making a mistake.  That he loves me so much.  That he is a good guy who screwed up etc.  I don’t need any drama in the future and nothing physical ever happened between us.  So I am just going to put this behind me.  And hope that I am making the right decision on that.

I wish you the best.  I will always think of you when I see vintage cars.  You have certainly cursed me in that way.  Maybe over time, this will all feel like a big mistake.  But I am still wrestling with, “I can’t explain it.  It’s what I am attracted to….it wants what it wants.”

I am not expecting a reply, but rather wanted the chance to say my peace.  Get everything off my chest and finally say…goodbye.

(Seen at 5:08 pm)

 

It took two more days for our friendship to be severed.  But only twenty-four hours for my racing heartbeat to suddenly stop.  Yes, it stopped.  Finally.

I wish I could say that was the end of my story.  But the truth is, it’s only the beginning of my sordid tale.

An amuse-bouche if you will.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye

The following day, as if on cue, Laura rang to see how things were going.  There was no use trying to gloss over the facts.  So I just came right out and said, “I told him I wanted a divorce last night.”  Unfortunately, between her kids and mine, we couldn’t really discuss things further as we were surrounded by several pairs of listening ears.  We both hung up, promising to reconnect in a few days.

I grabbed my iPad and opened up Facebook, only to find I had no reply from Billy.  I could see he read my message though.  And to be honest, it was driving me nuts.  I didn’t know where Billy’s head was at, and all I wanted to do was talk to him face to face.  My heart was still racing every time I thought of him.  But his silence was invading my thoughts during the day.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him going mute, so I decided to go for a run.  In fact, I spent several hours running that week.  I just had to keep myself busy, as any downtime brought my thoughts back to him.  Perhaps Billy just needed time to mull things over before he responded.  That is what I told myself, until Laura finally phoned later that week.

“Please don’t be mad.  I am your friend and I want to talk to you about something.  Are you alone?”

Catching my breathe I replied, “Yeah, I just finished my run.  I’m walking back to my car.  Why?  What’s up?”

Laura filled her lungs in and sighed, “I kept thinking about Billy and how you told your husband you wanted a divorce.  And it was really bothering me that Billy hadn’t replied to you.  I couldn’t sleep.  I kept tossing and turning thinking about everything.  First the reunion, then the party.  By around midnight, I finally got up and logged into Facebook.”

“Yes…and?”

“Billy was online so I messaged him.  I explained that I knew everything.  That I had read his messages and didn’t understand why he wasn’t replying to you.  I said if he didn’t feel comfortable talking to you face to face, would he talk to me?'”

I implored, “And what did he say?”

“He said yes.  So yesterday, Nick and I met Billy for coffee.  Just the three of us.  Nick just sat there listening.  He knows everything too.  But he just sat there for moral support while I grilled Billy.”

“FUCK, are you kidding me?”

“No.  Look, I was just trying to help out because I don’t want you throwing your marriage away.  I told Billy that I considered you a really good friend and as your friend, if he is serious about you, then he better step up and say so right now.  You have kids.  You’re seriously contemplating leaving your husband now.  And while trying to pull this relationship into the real world, it appears he is stalling things.”

She continued, “I honestly think you married the right person.  Yes, he cheated on you.  And yes, you’ve been through some shitty years now.  And likely, you haven’t entirely dealt with that.  But I really believe your marriage can be restored.  I care about you honey.  I don’t want you making a mistake that you will end up regretting later.”

Wiping the sweat away from my face and the occasional tear I said, “So what did Billy say?”

“He admitted to having feelings for you.  And flirting with you.  But he has been down this road before.  And he was emphatically clear that he wants no part whatsoever in breaking up any marriage.  Good or bad.  He just can’t go down this road again.”

“Ok…” I said as I tried to swallow the ever present lump in my throat that was forming.

Laura continued, “You know our church talked about this before.  But I have never seen it play out before my eyes.  They talked about people reuniting with past boyfriends or old classmates from school.  One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, both parties think they have feelings for one another.  The thing that struck me the most about your story was the second you tried to take your relationship outside the virtual world, he froze.”

“My phone is about to die.  And I have to get home.  Can I call you later?”

“Yeah that’s fine.  I just wanted to say that I am sorry if you feel I overstepped any boundaries.  But I felt you deserved an answer.  Billy suddenly turned into this wimpy little kid that couldn’t even communicate.  I mean come on, what are we fourteen?  He needed to man up and respond to you.  This is just bullshit from my perspective and Nick agrees too.”

Feeling pressure mounting in my chest now, I responded, “Yeah I agree.  It’s just I would have rather have had the opportunity to talk to him face to face.  So I could get closure myself.  There is a lot to be said for body language and all those non verbal clues.  I know he feels what I feel.  But I get it.  This would be a game changer for his life.  Who really wants to date a divorced mother with two kids?”

“Honey, there’s a reason why Billy is still single, despite being incredibly good looking.  He sucks at relationships, that’s why he’s not married!  Just keep that in perspective ok?”

“Alright.  Thanks Laura.  I do appreciate it.  The closure part.  Should I email him one last time?”

“Sure, say your goodbye’s but then unfriend him immediately.  I’ll be watching.”

I fished my key out of my sports bra and unlocked my car.  Tears started to well up in my eyes thinking I would never see him again.  But I clenched my teeth and held my composure together.  As I turned the key counter-clockwise in the ignition, chords from a piano started to play solemnly on the radio.

 

Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you

 

The tears that I had been holding back leaked from my eyes.  One streamed down my face.  Then another.  The salty liquid reached my quivering lips as I felt my heart surging with sadness.  A sense of loss overcame me as I closed my eyes and pursed my lips.  In a flash, I was standing back at the bar.  Billy locking eyes with me.  Smiling.  Staring at me intently.  I could almost reach out to him, it was that fresh in my mind.  The image and that moment seemed purposely ingrained.

So poignant.  That moment.  Sitting in the car.

As the lyrics played out over the radio, I knew what I had to do.

It was time to say goodbye to Billy.

For good.

 

 

 

Four Words

I wanted to see Billy and that’s the honest truth.  Had he talked to me face to face, it would have provided much needed closure on my part. But we don’t always get what we want, now do we? Sometimes, you need to roll with the waves and let things settle where they may. But that’s not how I felt then. I really wanted to talk to him face to face.

Now if you and I were sitting across from each other in this very instant, I would reach over and open a nice bottle of wine. Then hand you my phone, so you could just read the messages for yourself. Surely that would be easier than trying to convey the undercurrent of our conversations. I racked my brain over and over reflecting back upon our talks. It’s a fault of mine, but something that I rarely do unless I feel invested in the person. And I felt invested in Billy, to a certain degree. For he caused an immense physical reaction that went unabated for weeks. I just couldn’t walk away from that, knowing how infrequent that occurs in life.

But for the sake of providing more clarity and looking back upon that time, Billy and I talked about a variety of things: mutual friends, vintage cars, memories of when we were younger, work and kids. Not just mine either, but his nieces and nephews.

They lived out of state where his business was located. And each time he flew back, he stayed with them. It was actually quite cute listening to him talk about those kids, with the same amount of love that I have for mine. “We had movie day today,” he wrote while sending me a photo of two gorgeous little girls. “Omg, they are adorable. What are their names? They must love having you as an uncle. I’m sure you spoil them.”

“That’s Maggie, we call her Mads. And Ella, who goes by Ellie.” Smiling, I wrote back, “Is that Maggie in the braids then? Nevermind. Either way both are cute. Glad you stayed over the weekend, it’s obvious the girls adore you.”

Billy answered, “Thank you, and the kids aren’t that bad looking either ;-).”

A little bit of flirting crept into our conversations, which had been growing in length over that time. We always had a fair bit of banter, even when we were young. So this wasn’t unusual for us. I said to Billy that weekend, “Hope you have a nice flight home.” Billy replied, “Sometimes the pilots let me fly, so that’s awesome.” Knowing what a smart ass he was, I volleyed back “So, you get air points for flying and the mile high club? Awesome, good to know…you must be racking up the miles.” Laughing he wrote, “I wish I was a mile high club member!!!”

Not exactly hard core sexual banter, but Billy was never that kind of guy. At least not with me.

The next morning, I volunteered in Viviane’s classroom when my phone suddenly went off. It was Billy messaging me again. “The girls asked if I was going to be home by trick-or-treat time :-(.” I knew he was sad to be leaving his nieces, so I replied, “Ahhh, breaks your heart. Just wait till you have your own. It opens your heart more than you could ever imagine. It is by far my greatest achievement in life.” He replied, “I agree” while I quickly interjected, “and just for the record, I’m an awesome mom.” Billy answered, “I can totally tell…..Urgh, Southwest sucks. Just getting on my flight. Middle seat and the plane is full.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Billy was over 6′ tall and squeezing him into any seat, coach no less, would be brutal. “Next time, try flirting with the check-in desk. Gotta use those looks before they fade–haha.” Being ever so humble, he replied, “I lost them years ago.”

“Lost them? What are you talking about. You know you’re a good looking guy Billy.” Sensing that I may have made him blush, I followed up with, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” He replied at the same time, “You’re awesome.”

I think I explained previously that the day Billy first messaged me, my heart didn’t stop racing. And this wasn’t for just a few moments either. All day and all night, I had it. It was really annoying but eventually, I kinda got use to it. It felt as if I was living off of adrenaline with no end in sight. That physical sensation represented something so tangible that I kept thinking, “This has got to mean…he is the one.”

Have you ever walked into a room and caught someone’s eye, only to feel in an instant that there is a real, undeniable chemistry there from the start? Well if you have, then I am sure you can relate. I am not talking about the type of attraction that builds over time. I am talking about an instant reaction that is so tangible, that it literally takes your breathe away. You both feel an incredible pull towards one another. Like magnets I tell you. At the reunion, that is exactly how Billy and I were–like magnets to one another.

So despite Laura and Kara counseling me against starting a relationship with Billy, my heart was telling me otherwise. I spent a few nights tossing and turning, reflecting back upon my marriage. And the following evening after I got the kids to sleep, I uttered four heart breaking words as my husband sat next to me on the edge of our bed.

“I want a divorce.”

No tears were shed. The words were said calmly while I looked into his eyes and explained, “I am old enough to know that people are who they are. I need a husband who is a leader and stronger than me. I know this deep in my heart. No matter what, it comes down to that core issue over and over. The way I see it, I either accept you as you are, or move on and hope I find that dynamic with someone else.”

I wish I could say he was stunned. But the truth is, he wasn’t. We had talked about my desire for him to be the leader in our marriage for many years. His affairs were forgiven. And despite putting my best foot forward and not running away the moment he confessed, I was now deciding that my happiness meant more than his or the kids. I could no longer live for them. I could no longer be defined by my role as mother, wife, volunteer and friend. I wanted to be the sexy woman that I knew I was. The one that had come back to life that fateful night I locked eyes with Billy.

As I turned off the bedside light, I flicked open my iPad and sent Billy a simple message.

“I told him I want a divorce. It’s over.”

 

 

 

Overly Attractive

It was so surreal to be opening up my heart to Billy in this way.  We hadn’t even kissed, just talked.  But I felt so strongly that he would be my husband.  That he was truly “the one” I was meant to have married.  Chemistry like that doesn’t come along often.  I felt in my heart that Billy and I would have ravishing, mind-blowing sex.  The holy grail of connections coupled with an intense love and chemistry so elusive, it’s only written about in novels or shown in films.  It was that electric between us.

I continued, “Whether we end up together or not, I can’t say.  But I deserve to have a faithful husband.  And that is all I truly want in the end”.  He said, “You totally do.  But I’ll tell you what I told Anna.  That decision has nothing to do with me and you need to make that decision as if I was never born…And if I’m around, I’m around.”

Our flurry of messages stalled.  I didn’t know what to say.  So I sat there reflecting back on my husbands confession.   Pondering my age and questioning if I had the wherewithal to endure a divorce, when Billy finally replied.

“I do find you overly attractive.  But I’ve been in this once before.  It caused all kinds of problems for all kinds of people.  And I can’t do it again.  No one can blame you for doing that.”

It wasn’t exactly the response I was expecting.  And it confused the hell out of me to be honest.  I felt like he didn’t want any part of me divorcing, but once I was single, if he was still single, then yeah, something would happen between us.  In a nutshell, he was leaving the door wide open.

I didn’t know what to do at this point.  And ironically, both Kara and Laura eventually called to discuss the party.  Kara started with, “Honey, I just want to come right out and ask you something.  How is your marriage?  You’ve been on my mind for the past two weeks but I’ve been so busy with the kids.  I meant to call you earlier.”

Fucking Kara!  Her gifting, as they say, is intuition.  At several junctions throughout my life, she is like having a conversation with my conscience.  Which is why, during my affair with CEO, I rarely took her calls.  I just knew the truth she would be speaking and frankly, I wasn’t ready to give that relationship up.  But that’s getting ahead of things.

I really wanted to talk to her about Billy, so in that moment, I finally opened up.  Very few people really know me, struggles and all.  But Kara is one of them, which is ironic because we see each other maybe three times a year.  Perhaps it’s because she has known me since I was a kid.  Whatever it is, she can pry me open like a can of sardines.  “Kara, things aren’t going so well.  And I am starting to have feelings for someone else.”

“I know who you are talking about…”  She said, “It’s Billy huh?”

My heart dropped.  “How did you know?”

“Sweetie, I could see the chemistry between you two at the reunion.  He spent the most time talking to you.  There was an obvious connection.”

So I told her everything about Billy.  I explained how he had reached out to me.  How we had been emailing back and forth.  And how I was utterly confused as to what to do.  She replied, “You’ve always clicked.  This goes all the way back to Miss Blain’s 7th grade English class.  Don’t you remember the three of us sitting at the back of her class talking?  You guys had a connection way back then.”  Honestly, I didn’t even remember that.  I still don’t. But she is that friend that remembers everything about everyone, going back to when we were little kids.

The next call came from Laura.  Kara must have filled her in because she phoned the following morning.  I sat in my car, with tears in my eyes, confused because I really wanted to talk to Billy face to face.  But he was being distant, and not his usual self.  My heart was racing uncontrollably and I felt as if it would never stop.  Laura gave me two pieces of advice.  The first one being, “You know, your emotions will change over time about this.  Our emotions can and will deceive us.”  My rebuttal was, “Well I have always followed my gut.  And that has never happened before.  I mean I get what you are saying, but my gut has never steered me wrong in this way.”

“Start exercising.  Do something every day.  It will help stabilize your emotions about this whole situation.”  Looking back now, I can say emphatically, that it was great advice.  And I took both to heart, in the deepest of ways.

I started walking, then running.  Religiously.  That first month, I logged 125 miles.  I ran as much as I could.  Even if it was just ten minutes, I carved out time just for me.  Something I hadn’t done since before I had kids.  And I quickly realized, just how much I had missed it.  And how much I loved running again.  It was the only time where my heart got back to a regular rhythm.  For sure, it sorted out my head.  During that entire time, Kara and Laura were there counseling me.  “I know how much your husband hurt you, but I do believe God can restore your marriage.  I think you forgave too soon and perhaps, this connection with Billy isn’t so genuine after all.”

Both Kara and Laura told me to unfriend Billy immediately.  And they went on to say, “Although Billy was a great kid growing up, he’s actually kind of a trippy guy now.  He can’t even give you close to the life you lead.”  And they were right, he couldn’t.  Deep down I knew.  But it took them verbalizing this for it to sink in.

Collectively, we agreed that Billy would always be a bachelor filled with wanderlust.  Never willing to truly commit to another or settle down.  They were right.  Plus I knew leaving my husband would be financial suicide.  We worked so hard to get where we were in life.  It would ruin our kids and turn facets of our lives for the worse.  If I thought things were difficult in my marriage now, they would be compounded once divorced.

But I still didn’t want to let Billy go.  I simply…couldn’t be the one to unfriend him.

 

 

Signal Red

“They call it signal red.”  Billy was trying to enlighten me about the finer characteristics of vintage cars, something that wasn’t exactly on my day-to-day radar.  This was after explaining, “I like the red better than the green one.”  I laugh about it now because I know nothing about cars.  But as fate would have it, my brother crashed his Cayenne that morning.  I forwarded Billy the photos knowing he would cringe looking at the twisted heap of metal.  He quickly responded, “Oh man, that sucks.  He must be so bummed.”

“He looked down at his phone to read a map, rear-ended some lady.  50k of work and they haven’t even gotten to the frame yet.”

“Ouch!  That’s gotta hurt.”

“Don’t feel bad for him.  He can afford it.”

We stayed up talking till 1:00 a.m. that night.  It wasn’t a regular habit of ours.  But that is the night I shared the story of my husband cheating.  He was genuinely saddened to hear that, as he met my husband and thought he was a really cool guy.  As an outsider looking in, we make a striking couple, accomplished and successful with a few kids thrown in for good measure.  But I shattered that vision when I bared my darkest secret.

“That’s a tough position to be in.  I’m sorry.  Tough feeling like you don’t quite have a choice because of the kids.”  I countered, “He’s doing everything he can to keep me.”  Billy waited a second then replied, “As he should.  You’re a keeper for sure.”

Fast forward to the night of the party…At 3:00 a.m. my husband went to bed, leaving me with a small group of friends, Billy included.  We sat on the outdoor lounge furniture side by side.  He showed me his crooked finger, the one that got broken so severely in a college basketball game that it no longer lays flat with the rest of them.  Billy told me about all his surgeries.  But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw it for myself.  I touched his hand, moving it about, trying to figure out how the surgeon did such a horrible job of resetting his bones.  He didn’t get his money’s worth, that’s for sure.  For several seconds, I didn’t want to let it go.  It was the only moment I had to touch him and I wanted to savor it for as long as I could.

The next day, my husband left.  We previously arranged that I would spend the morning helping Laura clean up.  You know, get her house back in order from the party.  As Laura and I started to wash dishes, my mind wandered to the previous night.  I kept thinking back to the garage and I really wanted to talk to Billy.  I wanted to apologize for putting him in that situation.

I messaged him, hoping he would meet me.  “Billy, I’m so sorry.  I shouldn’t have put you in that situation last night.  It was wrong.  Can we talk?  Either I come to you, you come to Laura’s or we meet at a coffee place?”

And you know what happened?  Nothing.  Total crickets.  He was mute (although I could see he had read the message).

So I upped the ante and sent him a photo of my red bra and matching lace thong.  I wasn’t actually wearing it people.  Come on.  It was just a photo of the actual lingerie, which for me was pretty brazen at the time.  You could say, it was the first sexy photo I had ever sent a man.  In my life.  As in ever.  I know such a prude eh?  But don’t you worry, what I lacked in frequency, I more than made up for it with CEO (and those college photography classes certainly came in hand–it’s about angles people!).

With my heart racing, I hit send with the following message, “Billy, don’t push me away too.  Unless…you don’t want my version of signal red in your life.”

Finally!  He coyly responded, “I do like that red.”

“But you’re married and that’s a bit heavy for me.  I’ve been down this road before.  And I can’t do it again.  Remember at the reunion, you asked why I was single?  Well the girl I told you about at the bar?  You know, the one I pushed away–Anna?  She left her husband and I was the shoulder to cry on.  I can’t do it again.”

“I don’t need your shoulder Billy.  You’re not responsible for the demise of my marriage, that happened two years ago.  I’m stronger now, ready to tackle this head on and leave my husband.”  My heart was pounding as we typed a flurry of responses back and forth.

“Billy, I really wanted to say this face to face.  Not over email.  Not like this.  What I wanted to know was….Do you feel what I feel too?  I’m not looking for an affair.  You deserve better than that.  You deserve all of me.  I need time to wind down my marriage.  I guess what I wanted to know was…would you wait for me?”

 

 

The Party

“We’re throwing a post-Halloween party at Laura’s house.  Everyone had so much fun at the reunion and wants to hang out again.  You in?”  Billy waited all of three seconds to reply.  “Why don’t we just show up at Laura’s house one random night, like a flash mob.  That would be hilarious.”

“Umm, yeah…well for single people that works.  But for those of us with kids, it’s….not so great.  These things have to be planned Billy.  How does the first weekend in November sound?”

“DEAL!!!”

And so the wheels were set in motion.  There was going to be a party.  A soiree of sorts.  And for sure, I would be seeing Billy very, very soon.  Tasked with contacting everyone, I was constantly in touch with him (Guess who can make it? Oh so-and-so can’t come etc.).  One day I noticed a beautiful photo show up in my newsfeed and it was his.  It was a place he hiked to- a peaceful, serene, nature kind of shot.  The kind that speaks to my soul as I love getting away from civilization.

We talked more and more that day, until eventually our conversation rolled into the evening.  I have always been the night owl.  My husband?  Not so much.  Looking back, I can say we had a few break through conversations, very deep, very personal.  I confided in Billy about my husbands infidelity, something very few friends even knew about.  I explained I initially wanted to leave him, but I was barely pregnant with Zane.  I felt vulnerable after he confessed.  Scared.  And yet steely in my determination to not let my family be torn apart, let alone have my children affected by his indiscretions.

Billy asked how things were now.  I explained things were rough.  He replied, “I reckon not quite the same”.  And he was right.  They weren’t.  It had been two years since the confession and over that time, I made a conscious decision to forgive.  I said it so many times that eventually it became my reality.  I let go of the anger.  I honestly came to terms with what had happened and moved on.  Friends that knew were enthralled we stayed together.  And in fact, I think I was as well.  You could say, with certainty, that we were creating a new marriage.  A more honest one.  Where I knew the “real” person I married, not the fantasy I had been living under all these years.

But there was also a new element to our marriage post-confession.  One that got under my nerves more than anything else.  I suddenly had a “yes” husband.  I can’t describe it any other way than to say he had become….a wet noodle.  He had no backbone whatsoever.  And despite being the leader in our marriage, I too needed a soft place to rest my head.  I wanted someone stronger than me.  Someone to be the leader in our marriage.  This wasn’t something I just wanted on a whim.  I had desired this dynamic our entire marriage.  But now, I craved it.  Immensely.  Like in the most primal of ways.  It had always been lacking in our marriage, but I had somehow been able to quell those desires.  But post-confession, my husband changed.  And I needed and wanted that alpha-male leader dynamic more than ever.

I guess you could say a seed was planted that evening.  A woman not entirely happy with her marriage is an easy target to lay claim to.  This much, I know.  I found myself still having this racing heart beat, ever since Billy’s first message landed in my inbox.  I thought for sure it meant something.  In fact, I was positive it was a sign.  A sign that somehow, I had made a terrible mistake in marrying my husband.  Perhaps Billy was really “the one”.  How else could I explain the 24/7 racing heartbeat?  This wasn’t some school girl crush kind of thing either.  In fact, I had only felt this once before, which confused me down to my core.

The night of the party arrived and I was late.  When I arrived and saw his car, I immediately knew he was inside.  Laura later confided in me that Billy was the very first person to show up, something that struck her as odd.  In hindsight, I’m certain that he wanted to see as much of me as he could that night.

I came into the party but had my hands full of food, bags etc.  So it took me a while to set things up.  I caught him staring at me out of the corner of his eye.  But I kept busy with the things I needed to do before socializing.  As it turned out, he never came up to me.  I made my way around to all the guests, thanking them for coming, talking about how great the reunion was etc.  But eventually, I finally greeted him, giving him a hug and a light kiss on the cheek.  For talking so much everyday, I was taken aback by his lack of enthusiasm.  He definitely was keeping his distance.  And acting like a shy little school boy around me.  I finally approached him saying, “You haven’t even come up to say hello, stranger.”  Without missing a beat, Billy replied, “I was being a gentleman and waiting my turn.”

As he reached forward and gave me an obligatory side kiss on the cheek, the awkwardness only continued.  If I was on one side of the party, he seemed to be on the other.  If I was inside the house, he seemed to be outside.  We were, in essence, doing a dance…of avoidance.

If I left to go inside the house, I would see him checking me out.  He would pretend to be knee-deep in conversation, yet stealing glances to check out my ass.  So I returned the favor by pretending to have the most fabulous conversations, with laughter beyond words.  But deep down, I felt sick to my stomach.  This party was not turning out the way I envisioned and I was actually starting to feel quite sad.

Closer to midnight, a group of people were congregating in the garage and he was in there.  So I decided to join them, resting my body right next to his.  He, leaning against the washer.  Me, the dryer.  As if on queue, everyone suddenly left the garage.  And we found ourselves alone, the first time ever since reuniting after all these years.  It was unbelievably quiet.  He stood up and looked at me with lustful eyes.  I finally broke the ice saying, “There is so much I want to say to you…”  He took in a deep breathe and sighed, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

“Look Billy, I am not some young girl in high school.  I know what I want…”  He stepped a few feet away from me, looking at me again.  I had the most incredible butterflies swirling around in my chest.  That feeling you get when falling in love.  Yeah that one, coupled with pent up sexual desire and excitement rolled into one.  “Just kiss me” I said boldly.  He replied, “I can’t. Someone could walk in.”

So I instantly turned around and made a bee line for the garage door, planning to lock it.  He stopped me, while I said, “I don’t care.”

“Well I do.  What if someone comes in and sees us?  Do you know how awkward that is going to be for me?  And besides, your husband is like 10 feet away on the other side of that door!”

Reluctantly, I turned toward him leaving the door unlocked.  “Well are you attracted to me then?”  And like a man taking his last breathe of air, he replied, “Am I attracted to you?  Do you even know what I want to do to you right now???!!!  I wish I could…”

And just like that, the door flung open.  And party goers were flooding back into the garage.  Our only moment alone was now fractured and we would never be alone again.  We parted ways but the sideway glances…the staring from a distance…continued till the wee hours of the morning when the party finally dismantled at 5 a.m.

 

 

 

The Prelude

As I sat across from my husband, nursing a hangover, I kept thinking about how “Billy wants to be friends”.  I was mentally trying to figure out how he found me, in between bites of my breakfast.  Like a Polaroid going off in my mind, I suddenly recalled the bartender taking a group photo from the night before.  That must have been it.  Jeff must have tagged me.

You could hear the clanking of our silverware, as we continued with our breakfast.  Him, bacon and eggs.  Me, hash browns and coffee.  Not much has changed in fourteen years of marriage.  I can predict my husbands wants and desires like a weatherman predicts tomorrow’s California sunshine.  We were both utterly exhausted, so no words were exchanged.  This wasn’t the first late night between us.  We actually met at an underground club in Europe.  And not your ordinary club in the American sense.  This place was legendary for hardcore music lovers who had been up for two days.  A Sunday afternoon session if you will, to cap the weekend off.  But those days were long behind us.  And had been from the start of our marriage.  However, it felt eerily familiar to be this narcoleptic sitting across from him.

[click here to ACCEPT] kept popping in my mind.  That, and wondering if Jeff had really posted the group photo.  My curiosity grew as my stomach swelled full and I finally reached for my phone.  Sure enough, I was right.  There on Facebook was the photo from the previous night.  I was surrounded by my dearest girlfriends from twenty years ago, while Billy stood directly behind me…smiling.

I would look at that photo several times in the coming weeks, wondering if I should finally leave my husband.  Wondering if my marriage had completely run it’s course.  I didn’t know how else to reconcile the racing heartbeat that never stopped.  I had that exact same feeling when I met my husband, which I took as a sign.  A sign that somehow, I had made a terrible decision in marrying my husband.  And that perhaps, Billy and I were meant to be together.

But Billy knew I was married.  For the duration of our meal, I rationalized that perhaps I had misinterpreted everything at the bar.  And adding me, to the other 2158 “friends” Billy had, likely meant nothing to him.  So I accepted his friendship.  In one click, we were reconnected.

It took all of three days for Billy to contact me. Very PC of course.

“Good to see you!  You haven’t aged at all.  Your husband is rad too.  Next time I’m up that way, maybe we can meet at the brewery.  You guys get a sitter.”

I broke out in the biggest grin replying back, “Yeah I feel the same.  I really was surprised to see you.  In all honesty, I thought you were someone’s husband and not alumni.  You look so different than how I remember you.”

Without missing a beat he replied, “Ha.  Reynolds didn’t even recognize me.”  All the guys referred to each other by their last names.  It started back in junior high, when the boys PE teacher called them out by their last names during drills.  It stuck.  And to this day, that’s how they refer to one another: Reynolds, Weaver, Fuller and Collins.  They were thick as thieves at one point.  But time had distanced everyone from each other.

And so our friendship began.  It was mostly benign stuff, like comparing notes about the reunion.  Did you talk to this person or that person?  Wasn’t that person funny?  But eventually our chit-chat turned more personal, like most people’s would after you’ve flushed out all the boring stuff.

One morning, I was told that a classmate was murdered and it floored me.  I immediately sent Billy a message.  “I just heard about her passing.  Did you know?”  He immediately got online to talk.  “Whaaaat?  When?  How?”  I quickly replied, “All I know is she was murdered.”  Billy wrote, “So sad.  I liked her.  Urgh, I’m reading about it online.  So so sad.”

A few days later, my husband took the kids to a soccer game.  So I had time to myself which rarely happens.  Pouring myself a glass of wine, I logged back in and Billy sent me a message.  “Hiiiiiiiiiii.  What are you doing?”  “Just sitting her with a glass of wine. Everyone went to a soccer game.  I’m actually alone for once which never happens. You?”

“Sitting at a bar watching the World Series.  It’s empty.  Too many Halloween parties.” Billy wasn’t in California.  He was back east, a trip he made several times a month to oversea business.  Wondering where he would rather live, I asked, “Do you like being back there?  Or are you a So Cal guy at heart?”  He said, “Ha!  I only ever “visit” here, even when I moved.  I’ve never lived further than four miles from the house I grew up in.  Except when here.”

“So your parents are still in town?” I asked.  Billy replied, “My mom is.  Old man died a few years ago.  Same house across from school.”  Regretfully I said, “I’m sorry Billy.  I didn’t know.  We put mine in a home.  Twelve brain surgeries, two comas, nearly died a few times.”

“That’s tough.  At least mine went quick.  Died on his motorcycle surrounded by his friends, with the sun on his face.  Kinda awesome.” Collecting my thoughts, I finally replied, “You can’t ask for a better way to go.  Surrounded by your friends, doing something you love.”  Billy paused and finally replied, “True.  Very very true.”

I should probably share that Billy has a penchant for restoring vintage cars.  Or rather an obsession for a certain German manufacturer.  It started with his father and migrated down to him.  One day, he shared some old B&W photos of his Dad leaning against one of his prized possessions.  It was definitely unexpected.  Quite sweet and nostalgic.  And in that moment, I realized just how much his fathers death had impacted him.  He missed him.  And I understood.  For although my father was still alive, he was completely brain damaged.  I lost him in every way, except the physical.

A few days passed and Billy sent me more photos.  Only this time, it was inside his business.  Maybe he was trying to impress me.  Who knows.  I wish I could divulge more because it’s interesting.  And especially for someone like him.  You could say our friendship was getting closer at that point.  Although I yearned to see him again, I figured it would be another decade until that would happen.

My phone rang.  It was Kara.  “I’ve been so busy honey, but I’ve been wanting to call you.  The reunion was so much fun.  Now everyone wants to hang out again.  How about me, you and Laura throw a Halloween party?”