It started before we were married. I didn’t find out for three years. We were standing in the kitchen. She was leaning against the wall. I was over near the window, by the stove.
“How long have you been in love with him for?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“What do you mean you don’t know? Was it before we were married?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Why did you go through with the wedding then?” I asked.
“What was I supposed to do? Everyone was already invited.”
She stared at the floor when she said it. There was no tone of regret or apology; there was no emotion at all. Her eyes were dark, her mind elsewhere. Still wondering, I suppose, how he could have done that to her. She had asked me that early, after the man she cheated on me with blamed her for all of it, saying that she had chased him down the stairs to his bedroom.
“How could he do that to me?” she asked.
“Are you seriously asking your husband how your boyfriend could treat you that way?”
“Yes,” she replied. “How could he do that?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe it’s because he’s an asshole.”
The future I dreamed of, the children I was preparing for, with the person I trusted and loved enough to vow the rest of my life to, was gone. My past had to be rewritten. I was living with a stranger and building a life around lies. All my most insecure and paranoid thoughts, the ones she made me feel guilty and crazy for having, were the ones I should have been listening to.
Who was this person? Who was I for trusting her?
Something broke in me. I tried for a long time, too long, to convince myself that she wasn’t herself, in the things she did and said. Convince myself that if I could just reach her, touch her heart, make her jealous, make her feel anything, it might, I don’t know. . . I just wanted to see the person I fell in love with one more time.
The person I knew was the one I laughed with and shared the most intimate moments: memories, thoughts and touches. A friend I comforted when she cried or screamed over problems within her family; who stood by me when my father was dying and who was right there when I turned around after I put his coffin into the hearse. If that person, that caring person, could hear what this person was saying in her voice with her appearance, let me tell you, she wouldn’t be happy, either.
Perhaps, she was right when she said I’m naïve. Perhaps, one day I’ll have the emotional distance to see it clearly. Or, I’ll turn it into a book and find the answers that way. It does feel like a story that insists on being told. A male version of Eat, Pray, Love. Cook, Read, Empathize.
I felt sorry for the husband when I read Eat, Pray, Love. He seemed inconsequential to the main character. If a man wrote a book about leaving his wife because he was bored and wanted to sleep with another woman and live the life of a wealthy backpacker he’d be called . . . unpleasant things. Especially if he tried to make his wife out to be the nasty one for not being more understanding about it. And if he called it a spiritual journey . . . well.