Indicating the commotion, I said, “Oh, sad. Someone’s having a bad day.”
Turns out it was me.
I dropped him off and headed for home to plow through my midyear review. As I pulled onto the freeway I listened to a voice message. It was from Jim. This part is foggy; I’m not absolutely certain what the message said, but the important bit went something like this, “I caught Mark and Carrie making out in the car at the airport. I busted in the windows. Nobody's hurt.”
Here’s how my thoughts went when I heard that—
No. Mark is gone. He is in Salt Lake. Did he come back? He got on a plane? Wait, no, he broke up with her. He said that he wanted to be with me. Why were they together? He’s gone. If this really happened, he’ll still be at the airport. He would never leave the scene without filing a police report. Were they in the parking garage? Oh my gosh, that’s what the all the cops were doing there . . .
Pulling up to the cell lot I saw what I hadn’t noticed when I drove past earlier. I saw my husband. Tall, long legs in dark jeans, a bright green t-shirt with an big QR code in the shape of the Apple logo. Carrie’s car, a dark blue-gray SUV.
I parked a ways from the commotion—the police officers, Mark sitting in the far back of the SUV with the hatch up and filling out paperwork, Carrie on the other side of the car. She was wearing a baseball cap.
I walked toward the car. I now know that there was glass on the asphalt from the two bashed-in windows on the passenger side, but I had tunnel vision; everything around me was fuzzy as I walked toward Mark. Even though my legs felt like liquid, they somehow propelled me forward. When I stopped in front of him he looked up from the report and said, “Hi!” as if nothing was wrong or strange or out of place.
The nearest cop asked me what I was doing there. I pointed at Mark and said, “That’s my husband.” And then I pointed at Carrie on the other side of the car, “And that’s his mistress.”
The officer guided me away. When we got to my car I sank onto the front bumper. My knees were done supporting me.
I looked up at the officer. “When did my life get so much like a Jerry Springer show?”
He laughed and asked, “Are you okay to drive?”
“My husband doesn’t have a ride now. I can wait until he is done and take him home.” It’s only now that I see how nutsy that sounds.
“It’s probably better that you don’t. You should go home.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Well,” I replied, “I’d like to go over there and beat the shit out of her, but I’m guessing that’s frowned upon.”
He laughed again. “Yeah, I’d have to stop you.”
“I could take her, you know. I’m small, but I’ve got rage on my side. I could take that bitch.”
He laughed again.
My happy memory of that day was the fact that in one of the more rotten moments I’ve ever experienced, I made the cop watching over me laugh three times. Despite everything, that part of the day stands out to me. But I glossed over the part that stood out to you, didn’t I?
My now-boyfriend smashed in the car windows.
Until your spouse cheats on you, you’ll never understand how crazy you become in trying to get them back. And how being crazy isn’t just reasonable, it’s your responsibility, it’s necessary. Nothing is too much, especially if you have four kids and their mom has gone batshit crazy and run off with your best friend. It’s not too much to surreptitiously activate the OnStar on your wayward wife’s car. It’s not too much to obsessively watch her movements to verify that she is where she said she’d be. It’s not too much to follow her when her car shows that she’s lingering at the airport. And when you find her in the backseat with her boyfriend, it’s not too much to take a tactical baton that the boyfriend gifted your oldest son and bash in the windows on your own car to get at the slimy asshole. In fact, your actions are so reasonable that everyone who knows what’s going on in your life will be jealous that you got to smash in the windows. The wife of that man that used to be your best friend will outright tell you that she’s envious.
The unacceptable kind of crazy comes next. That crazy is what the cheating spouses did.
They disappeared. They went AWOL for a week. Wouldn’t return the many, many calls or texts or emails from me, from Jim, from friends, from the kids. I slept on the daybed in my office, gripping my phone throughout my Ambien-induced fitful sleep in case my husband called in the middle of the night, and I didn’t go back to sleeping in my own bed until three months later.
From the start of the infidelity disaster I knew that I’d write about it one day, and I knew that I wouldn’t remember all the details. So I kept notes. I kept everything. All the texts and emails from the time when I found out about the cheating until the email where my husband broke up with me. And at the end of last year I complied them into one 30,000-word document.
Here, from the airport day, two consecutive texts from me to the man I was married to (no responses came):
When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen.
Don’t know what to think about what I’ve been told, but I’m not going to think anything until you’ve told me your side.
Also, I’m home. You can come here if you want. I have no idea what’s going on. I told the officers that I could give you a ride, but they made me leave.8:37PM—
Okay, this just came to me and I can’t really believe I’m saying it, but Carrie could spend the night here. I know you don’t want her to go home because you don’t believe it’s safe, but assuming that you guys aren’t getting physical at some hotel, maybe you want to go somewhere where impropriety isn’t a question that you guys have to overcome later. I won’t attack Carrie—not emotionally or physically. I want these marriages to have a chance and if you guys go to some hotel or something that might look too bad to fix. I know this sounds insane. I know it, but I am trying to help us all. If this is an option you want to exercise, call me. I swear I will only speak about logistics. We can talk about other things later.
None of this is lining up. I might be an idiot (probably) but I don’t think this is what it looks like. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but trying to be logical and knowing you as I do, the picture I’ve been presented with just doesn’t make sense.I was wrong. So many times I was wrong. Is it that I never knew him or that he morphed into something unrecognizable? Is it both? I will never know.
Whereas I thought my husband was staying in Utah, it turns out he was in town in some hotel with her. Apparently, she'd told Jim she was going to the hotel to for the night to clear her head. That day our spouses were at the airport because she was dropping him off so he could fly to Salt Lake and retreive all his belongings.
During their incommunicado week, the wayward spouses made their way to Utah. And on a Sunday afternoon, Mark dropped Carrie off at a movie so he could go to my parents’ house, break in through the basement because they'd changed the garage code to keep him out, and collect the stuff that he’d moved there when he decided that he wanted to stay in our marriage and knew he’d need geographical distance from Carrie if we were going to work out.
But, as you already know, seeing as I brilliantly married a man without a shred of fortitude, we didn't work out. Instead, I've landed a boyfriend who my family adores, whose parents think I'm terrific, who's a kickass dad, and whose right forearm sports a scar. It's from that time he busted in some car windows, and I think it's damned sexy.