One year. Today. One year ago today I was stupid happy. I was in Cambridge, Mass, a little more than halfway through my last residency for graduate school. Dear Reader, it was glorious. I was at Lesley. I was with my people. I was feeling confident in my thesis. I was yoked with my faculty advisor of choice. I was looking forward to my friends Audrey and Candice’s senior seminars. I was wearing a new black maxi dress with a kelly green cropped cardigan. I really remember that. I even remember my weight that morning, and I wasn’t pissed off about it. Life couldn’t have been much better.
Then, while I was sitting in an evening poetry reading, I got a text message from Emily, who walks my Sophie. Emily said that she came by and the puppy wasn’t there. That was new.
My husband was at home in Sparks. I texted and asked him after our dog’s whereabouts. He replied that he had boarded her ‘cause he was leaving town—“Goin’ on a little road trip with [his brother] John.”
Unscheduled road trip? Not our norm. So I left the reading and called him to ask what was going on. He repeated what he’d said via text. He was evasive. I persisted with the Whats? and the Whys?
“Do you really want to do this now?” he asked.
He told me to get on video chat. I walked back to my dorm and logged on. And then, looking down at the keyboard while he spoke, my husband told me that his brother was in town helping him pack up half the house because he was moving out. Maybe to Vegas, but he couldn’t be sure. He was leaving because, well . . . because . . . well, because he was having an affair with his best friend’s wife.
You didn’t know that part of the story before, did you? Yes, my now-boyfriend, Jim, and my ex were best pals. The Wasband fought me on that fact. “Best friends?” he’d say, “I don’t think we were best friends. Good friends, but not best.” (As if a different adjective mitigates the offense.) I’ll tell you this, from an “outsider’s” perspective, they were besties. They met at church and became fast friends. Months before the affair came to light I remember telling our friend, Nate, that Mark and Jim were like brothers from another mother. If my spouse wasn’t at home or working, I knew he’d be at Jim’s place.
Best friends or no, they were very close. Mark “respected” Jim. He admired him. Apparently he admired him so much that he decided he wanted to have what Jim had. Like Jim’s wife. And, now that the divorce is final and assets have been divvied up, Jim’s money too. It’s probably a miracle that Jim didn’t have to move out of his house to make way for my ex and his splendid slut. (I say “slut” because, despite their claims that this wasn’t some lusty dalliance, that it was for-real love, they still aren’t married. We endured their professions of love and desires to marry, but even though they’ve both liberated themselves from the bonds of their old marriages and are free to wed, they shack up. It's fine for some, but they swore up and down that they were desperate to get married. They haven’t gotten hitched, and we’re pretty sure they never will, because without the alimony Jim pays, those two won’t be able to make their bills.)
I remember this date one year ago as if it were happening now. I went from the peak of bliss to a pit of distress in minutes. Life hasn’t been the same since. Actually, it’s been pretty effed up.
True, I’m head over heels for Jim; I’m dating a man who can improve any day by just showing up. I enjoy an enviable career. I own the cutest dog I’ve ever seen. I have family that isn’t allowed to be any more extraordinary than they already are because my heart would explode. My friends are the kind that only add value. Mine is a good life.
But I still got ditched in favor of another broad, one 14 years my senior. And, there’s no two ways about it, that damaged the hell out of me. I was married, and a few months before our ten-year anniversary, my husband got distracted by a pair of breast implants and kicked off an extramarital affair. I own some fault for a marriage that was weak enough to break like this, but I’ve been in therapy long enough to concede that I didn’t make my ex’s choices.
So I keep working on putting myself back together. Usually my learning curve is pretty steep, so I can get frustrated and wonder how come I’m not “fixed” yet. With my great people and professional help, I should be good as new by now, right? I guess not, because there are days that I’m really beat up over the whole thing. I have my abandoned days. My mad days. Days where I feel small and helpless. Days where I feel hideous. They’re less and less as time passes, and it’s only been a year, so I’m going to try to be patient with myself, with my healing. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be rebuilt in one either. I suppose I just need more time.