Well, kinda thought it was coming. When I heard on my ex’s last visit that his girlfriend had recently “lost a ton of weight”, I thought I smelled a big day ahead. Women don’t usually just lose “a ton of weight” for no good reason. It’s most likely in preparation for some landmark event. Like turning 50. Or getting married. Whichever. So the idea had been spinning around in my head for a couple months. Not a new idea. But it’s funny how unceremoniously it was that I learned it had “just” happened. Whatever just means.
Elihu and I had finally caught up with each other yesterday, and tonite he called as I was making supper. As we usually do when we we’re apart, after all the urgent news has been shared, we default to a sort of ‘what are you doing right now’ sort of conversation. It’s more a means to keep the tunnel open to each other, more a way just to be with each other in the same room than to say anything new. He was telling me all sorts of little things about his day, and about how many hours they’d been on the road so far – nothing much of anything to tell – when he added, “oh, just so you know, it’s a little thing, but daddy and Jill had to get married. For a technical reason.” A year ago I might have reacted more acutely, but now, a year out, it didn’t quite knock the wind out of me. Didn’t even elicit a tear. But I can admit that I looked over to the microwave clock to note the time I was first given the big news, and I felt my chest contract just a bit. Elihu went on to say that he wasn’t sure of the details – and repeated that they’d done it because “technically they had to.” (I felt myself wondering why they didn’t “technically” need my husband and me to get divorced before they had two kids.) Elihu told me they didn’t make it a big deal, it wasn’t a fancy ceremony with lots of people (I did manage to ascertain that Elihu had not been present for the big day) but that they were going to have a party later on. He just kept talking and talking, moving on to the next item on his mind, leaving me behind… silent , stuck in my thoughts, just the slightest bit dazed.
After nearly a quarter century together, and Fareed couldn’t have at least communicated this to me in some way? If not before, then maybe right after? Wow. If having children with two other women during our marriage wasn’t enough to show me the true colors of this man, guess this should pretty much seal it, huh. But bad behavior or not, I know that it is precisely because Fareed left that our lives have become so magical now. As our lives were destroyed, so too were they improved. A queer mix, but true. I realize that none of our wonderful new life would have been possible if Fareed hadn’t left. I remind myself this, because I can feel sorrow beginning to grow in my chest. Stop, Elizabeth…remember our new life here… We would never have known our blessed Waldorf School, we would never, ever have known what it was to have homing pigeons, to release them into the air and watch them return to us again…. We wouldn’t have known dear Timothy, our red golden pheasant, the chukkar partridges, ducks Joseph and Josephina, the many chickens, our dear button quail King George – or even our beloved goose Maximus – none of this would be part of our story today if Fareed hadn’t decided that he needed out of this marriage. Yeah, I know. But it still feels unjust, somewhere in my heart I still want answers; I want my husband, and the family that never really was – back. Tears come now. Seems the last time I cried it was over him too. That last, blow up of a visit. Wasn’t this done already? Guess not. More tears. More disbelief. I try to reconcile the dream of us in our Evanston home with this beautiful new life here in the country. We have a wonderful and full life here! We have grandma and grandpa next door…. So why am I still so sad? I certainly can’t say that I didn’t see it coming! Maybe this is why he didn’t tell me himself. Cuz he knew I’d cry. Asshole.
I already had a cold, so when I called my mom up to tell her the news, my stuffy nose didn’t give me away. As I’d expected, first I heard her initial expression of outrage and anger, but then she surprised me – as her tone uncharacteristically softened. She expressed sympathy. She became tender for a moment, as we both silently considered it all over again. Yeah, even with everything that’s happened, it was still sad. But we shook ourselves out of our lull by reminding ourselves that even if things were different, I would not want him back. Absolutely not. So. There it was. We both sighed a “whatcha gonna do?” sort of lament, and a beat passed.
I wonder about the two of them. They seem to have a good relationship. Certainly not the lustful, magical thing it might have once been, but they’ve managed to handle their two kids – plus two ‘others’ – as well as her going to school and his insane schedule – and they’ve logged some seven years now. (That includes two years I thought he was still my husband. !) Who knows. I have lots of friends tell me they’d put money on it not lasting ten years. Some think five, tops. Some speculate he’s cheating on her already. I don’t go there, cuz I just don’t know. And even though I am saddened that my old friend chose not to tell me about his marrying, I still don’t wish him any ill. In fact, I pray she’s still around to tend to him as he becomes an old man, because I can’t do that now. But someone has to. I hope she’ll stay on for the job.
Once, shortly after Fareed had come clean about having a pregnant mistress and wanting to be with her instead of me, we stood in the kitchen drinking gin and talking about things we’d hardly ever talked about before in our twenty-two years together. I asked him how he saw things now. Could he see himself with Jill at the end? I mean, we’d been together long enough that I’d always known how we two would die; one in the company of the other. But now, that sacred plan had been changed. I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be alone. I told him he could always call me. But he shrugged me off and laughed. He told me that he fully expected himself to be alone as an old man, living in a fifth floor walkup in Manhattan somewhere, practicing his guitar. And he said he’d probably end up dying alone – of AIDS, he added rather dramatically – and no one would care, but he’d be happy. Yeah, he probably would be. In a perfect world, a spouse and family are probably the last thing Fareed would ever need or want. Instead, the life that would suit him would be one of privacy; hours and hours spent playing his guitar, hours in which to write, to read, to enjoy a meal alone, a glass of wine alone, to do all this in the coziest of apartments, while far below the bustle of the street continues on, oblivious to the old man playing guitar in the window….
But for now my ex has hitched his wagon up to his lady’s for the long haul, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be living the life of a classical-guitar playing hermit anytime soon. But ya never know. After all, this was a man who told me in no uncertain terms that “divorce was not an option.” Yup, plans change sometimes. We’ll just have to wait and see….