With my husband in Spain, I immediately felt more productive.
I met my friend, Curt, for lunch one afternoon at Spitz in Eagle Rock. He and his beautiful wife, Kathy, were one of five couples in our Bible study group. We all had formed the group in 2004 and dubbed it “Jequila”. Jesus and Tequila. Yes, please.
Curt sat and listened to me recount highlights of the past month’s struggles and asked why I wasn’t taking the time to heal, myself.
“I believe God wants to redeem my marriage,” I explained.
“Leslie, God wants to redeem YOU,” Curt offered, matter-of-factly.
Oh. I actually hadn’t really thought of that.
He suggested allowing Kathy to list the house for lease (conveniently, she is a realtor). He then offered me a room in their gorgeous home in Pasadena. I left lunch that day, inspired. I could rent out our home for six months and not have to worry about a mortgage payment. Maybe even separating from my husband for a while would be the best idea. Anything was better than the situation that I was in at the moment.
Trouble was, even after all we had been through, I still loved my husband and wanted our marriage to work.
Yet the thought of starting over was exciting. I was at least doing something, moving forward. I was so tired of waiting around for something to happen. Kathy came over, breezed through the house and gave me suggestions on how to prepare it for a tenant. Repairs were badly needed. I hired her handyman to do the work. I blindly started packing, and prayed for a good tenant.
I also continued to attend marriage counseling, until my counselor suggested a different therapist. Not much you can do in marital therapy when your spouse is out of the country, I suppose. I started seeing my current therapist, who initially encouraged me to write down my negative thoughts. (I think I’m still writing them down, just in a different, more public fashion).
In the midst of my focused frenzy, my friend Andrea was moving into a new loft downtown. I was helping her unpack one afternoon, when there was a loud knock at the door. I answered it. It was the UPS man, delivering a package for the neighbor. He needed someone – anyone – to sign for it.
I stood there, in old jeans and a bulky T-shirt, messy hair and no makeup. As I signed my name on the chunky electronic device, he suddenly said, “You’re really cute. Are you married?”
I looked up at him. “I don’t know, “ I blurted. Honest answer.
He grinned. “Can I give you my phone number?”
I hesitated, but then offered, “Sure.”
I took it. As he backed down the hallway, the UPS man told me he’d take me to lunch, or to the movies, or on a hike or a bike ride or even a motorcycle ride – whatever I wanted. I was flattered, and immediately wished that my husband could be that enthusiastic about me.
I never called the UPS man, but it felt really good to be noticed. Especially when I wasn’t trying. Hmmm.
I continued to do hard work around the house, preparing it for potential lease. One of the harder things I had to do was to find a new home for our 14-year old cat. We had rescued her from an organization five years earlier. I never really wanted an indoor cat, but my husband liked her because she “looked like a pirate”. She was a sweet animal, and I felt terrible that I was tossing her aside. I drove her back to the organization from where she came and sobbed like a mother who had just lost her child. The cat people tried to calm me down but I was inconsolable. It felt horrible to leave her there, in a cage. She was terrified, and I abandoned her. She didn’t do anything wrong; she didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of treatment.
I prayed for my cat.
Oh, Lord, I hope she will be OK. I know she’s just a cat but she was part of our family, and now our family is so broken.
What was left of our family was me, a part-time dog, an outdoor cat, and two chickens.
And so, the days passed. I hadn’t heard from my husband at all, until I received a text one evening.
Seriously? That was the best he could do?
The next morning I received an email from him, saying that his phone had been stolen. He asked me if I would call AT&T and sort it out. I complied. Sure enough, hundreds of dollars in international phone calls had been charged to the account in a matter of a few hours. I suspended his phone line. Problem solved, except that I now had no way of getting in touch with him.
So I emailed.
So odd that your phone got stolen.What are your days like? Ahhh, beautiful Spain — wish I could go.
I read your story… It was really good.
I will admit your use of the present tense in the sentence “my own cheating heart” made me sad.
I love you. I would say I hope you are having a good time but I am sure you are.
He replied, almost instantly. He told me he loved me, and that the line I worried about was just a song lyric. And then he told me to not worry about the investment banker.
My heart almost stopped. I immediately scoured the internet for his latest writing. Sure enough, my husband detailed this “investment banker” as his travel companion. She was a lovely, young woman who drove a BMW.
FUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKIINNNNNNNGGGGG SHITASS MOTHERFUCKING LIAR SONOFABITCH CHEATING ASSFACE DOUCHEBAG !!!!!
And then, the phone rang. It was a guy in his 20s trying to purchase one of the items that I had listed on Craigslist: my husband’s 1968 Honda Café Racer. The motorcycle was cool, but it didn’t run. It just sat in the garage and took up space. We were desperate for money (still), and this kid wanted to buy it. He was coming by to look at it in a few minutes. The only problem was that I couldn’t find the key to the dang thing. I swallowed the immediate pain of the investment banker and emailed my husband back, asking him where the keys to the motorcycle were. He said to check the glove box in his truck.
I scurried down the cement stairs to the 1997 Nissan pickup truck that was parked on the street. I dumped the entire contents of the glove box onto the bench seat, and started sorting.
There, I saw it: a single, neatly packaged condom. It was at the very bottom of the sandy glove box. I jumped back in horror, and squeezed my eyes shut. When I pried one of them back open, that cheap condom still lay there. I could almost hear it laughing at me.
My husband’s voice echoed in my head: “It happened just ONCE.”
All of those horrible feelings of betrayal, on top of the new information about this “investment banker” that was “part of the story” flooded back. I felt incapacitated, discovering more lies, deceit, and actual evidence of it all.
I ran back upstairs, fingers flying on the keyboard:
Where are the keys to the motorcycle? All I found was your condom stash in the glove box of your truck.
He denied it and stopped emailing for the rest of the day.
I had to keep it together. I had to keep packing. I had to get out.