Where did we leave off...oh yes, I'd just packed my husband up to go stay with his girlfriend for awhile and just gotten a call from my guy friend. For the sake of keeping it all straight, I shall refer to the other woman and the other guy going forward as JR and Bitchface. No, that's not fair. JR is cool because those are his initials, but I need a better name for her. Skank-ho? No. Hmm. I don't like writing her real name, not for fear of her finding this - judging from her love letters, her reading comprehension skills aren't this advanced. I just don't enjoy writing, hearing or saying her name. But to be mature and adult about this I'll just use a form of her name: Christine. Wait, Anti-Christ? No. Christine it is. You know, like the evil car in that Stephen King book. I like that - eeevil.
So, JR called and asked what I'd been up to. I laughed and said, You got a few hours? He said sure. Uh-oh. But I gave him the Reader's Digest condensed version of what had been going on and he was shocked. He said, You didn't tell him about us did you? I said Of course not, dumbass. He said, You're going to. You're going to get pissed off and tell him and then we won't be able to just hang out and be friends anymore. I told him I wouldn't at the time, but of course it would turn out he was exactly right. He was a pretty smart guy, in certain areas.
After we talked for awhile, he asked if I wanted to go to his house and hang out. Let me set that scene for you. This guy was eight years younger than me, making him 24 at the time. He lived in a huge brand-new triple-wide mobile home on a nice couple of acres of land out in the middle of nowhere (bought for him by his parents). He had a revolving group of girls and friends and roommates and his house was party central. I was always nervous when I went over there, never knowing what I'd find, but it was never boring. Of course I went over there that night and after watching O' Brother Where Art Thou (that will forever remind me of that time in my life its soundtrack used to make me violently ill because Brian had the cd in his car's player at all times back then)(but I do love the movie still), things got physical. Of course. Damn, it sucks to be a weak human sometimes.
JR quickly became a good distraction for me. Carrie Fisher once said about John Belushi: "It always seemed like he was in the middle of some emergency, but it was always a fun emergency." That describes JR perfectly. He was the leader of his large group of friends and was always up for any adventure. I started doing things very out of character for me - riding 45 minutes south to Gainesville to go to play darts and listen to his friends' bands at different bars on work nights, for instance. I was way too old for that stuff, I'd thought, but I quickly learned any distraction from real life was a welcome relief. I only spent a couple of entire nights at his house because I felt guilty about leaving my sweet baby dog home alone too much. Seriously. That dog was my most comforting and loyal companion during that time. Brian missed him terribly as well; mayhaps as much as he missed me. The stories that poor dog could tell.
It was during this time I told Brian I was seeing JR, and yes it was in a fit of jealousy. My heart was broken and my self-esteem was crushed; I didn't mind letting him know I was no longer spending every night crying at home, pacing and wringing my hands, waiting to hear from him. He asked me if anything had happened between JR and myself before this and I had to tell him the truth. He said, Yeah, that's what I figured. He was understandably not pleased and felt justified in what he was doing then. I said, I didn't have to be honest with you but I am. I also need to point out I didn't hurt you like you're hurting me - I made the mistake but I didn't ever make you wait at home worried and wondering where I was. Weak justification, yet I said to him many times during those monthsI did it first, but you did it worst. I liked that it rhymed.
Things really started getting confusing one afternoon when I was home on the phone with JR. The call-waiting beeped and I answered the other call. It was a female voice I didn't recognize. The conversation went something like this:
C: You know who this is, right?
Me: Um... (starting to figure it out)
C: It's Christine - the one with your husband.
C: Yeah. Well, you want him back, he obviously wants you back - if you care you'll meet me at the Circle K in an hour and pick up him and his shit.
My first thought was not what you might guess. It was pretty much, Huh. I wasn't feeling much of anything at first except curiosity. It was obvious things had taken a turn for the worse in Loveyland, but why? I thought, I guess I'm about to find out and quickly got off the phone with JR. I then went straight to the bathroom and threw up whatever miniscule amount of food I'd eaten that day - puppy Cletus was getting used to seeing Mama puking and resting her head on the nice cool potty and he stayed by my side the whole time, like always.
I tried to mentally prepare myself as best I could and left to go pick up "my husband and his shit." As I pulled into the gas station, I saw he was just getting out of her car with the large bag he'd been living out of for several weeks. I stayed in my car and waited. My first glimpse of her happened right then - and if looks could kill I wouldn't be sitting here writing this today. Whatever, hooker.
He got into the car and tried to smile at me. I started driving and didn't say anything, mainly because I had no idea what to say. He haltingly started explaining, saying they'd been fighting a lot and everything came to a head today when she gave him the dumbest ultimatim The Other Woman can ever give: either get a divorce or we're done. He told her he'd hurt me, separated from me, took his wedding ring off for her (that one just about did me in - mine never came off the entire time we were separated) and he wasn't ready to think about getting a divorce yet, when they'd known each other for two months. He told me, Let's just leave. Let's get the hell out of this town; we both hate it here and there's nothing left for us here.
Those were the words I'd been waiting to hear and for a few minutes, my heart lifted. I'd been begging him for us to leave months before all this started. Things were going downhill for us financially, he wasn't even taking classes anymore which is why we moved there to begin with, and I had had many premonitions things would only get worse, which of course they did. So when he said that and took my hand, I was truly happy. Our second anniversary was only a week or so away and it would be a perfect time to leave that hellhole and start over somewhere - anywhere - else. The feelings I had for JR were nothing more than a physical attraction and friendship. I would feel bad to leave without saying good-bye to him, but he never lacked for female companionship very long. He was young; he'd bounce back quickly; I knew that. I would've been more than happy to start packing right then and not look back.
My euphoria was short-lived. We got home and after we spent some time playing outside with Cletus (to see how excited he got when Brian got home just about broke both our hearts), but as the evening wore on, it became very apparent he was not as happy as he'd been acting that afternoon. My radar was on high alert and I told him to talk to me about how he was feeling. He started crying and put his head in his hands.
I don't know.
I love you; I know that. I miss you so much. I talked about you all the time even though it made her so mad. She's not trustworthy. She likes to fight. She likes to hit. She likes making me jealous by flirting right in front of me. I know it's so not fair to you and I hate so much that I've hurt you this badly. But I'm still attached to her. The hardest part too is that I'm also attached to her kids. They love me; the youngest one even calls me Daddy.
That last part? Came really close to killing me. She may be a lot of things, but she had the one (actually three) things I didn't: babies. Imagining him taking care of her children (changing diapers for the first time!) is what brought me the closest to insisting on divorce. I knew I could forgive him for her and the sex and whatever, but that? He knew how badly I wanted a family; we'd already started trying. Now, after all we'd been through - moving to that shit town, working to put him through school, struggling financially the whole time, but getting married and being so happy during it all? Yet there he had a ready-made family - three beautiful sons just dying for a father. Any father, probably.
If this was a movie, it would've ended dramatically in the car that afternoon when I picked him up, he took my hand and said let's get out of here. But obviously this isn't a movie and by the time we went to sleep (separately) that night, we were right back to square one. And that was nowhere good.