so I could love another man.
I wish I knew how to stop loving you, that my curiosity about others lives wasn’t inducing my most real attractions, that it wasn’t more natural for me to linger on your laughs than to just let it go. Upon all the really mean things you said, I am full of forgiveness, but the whispered I love you and the way you smell right after you get dressed for work, I can’t forgive every other man I meet.
He’s handsome; he kisses like a steamed- up mirror after a perfect hot shower. When I wipe the fog away, he assures me, he will only be more compassionate, that he’s safe, and that he wants to fall in love with me. Possibly for the rest of his life, he wants to be the love that lingers on my laugh, forgives me of my wrongs, that holds onto me in hopes my perfume will linger on him all day.
You are proof how lovable I am
You are proof how lovable I am because I never doubt that except when I make the ridiculous mistake of believing what others thought. Others try to think they know how much partners talk behind closed doors, when one touch between lovers melts pains of childhood into each other’s arms. Every challenge I met you in, it would be unfair to say you didn’t reap the rewards my willingness to see your happiness over what was fair to my life brought you.
I didn’t need my life to be right; I need yours to be. There were so many holes that I knew would tear the skin off my arms to go down. I clothed you in armor; I secured your safety. Then I dove first. I’m not saying your landing wasn’t hard or that you didn’t acquire a few bruises along the way, but I’m wondering how often you think about how much more it would have hurt to have fallen without your safety net.
So when he leans in and runs his thumb along my wrist, yeah, there’s a chill; yeah, he’s sweet and knows how to looks at me the way I want to be looked at by a man. Every once and a while so deeply he looks at me that I like the idea of him pressing me up against a wall just before he assures me that he’s, “okay with it going slow.”
What’s more than his flirty skills is that I believe him. I believe him when he tells me about how law school almost beat him bloody, but he loves that when he’s compelled to do what’s right, he has the chance to make a change. I believe him when he tells me that he knows that sounds like a line, and when I make fun of him, swatting at his arm: “yeah, it sure does,” I believe him when he tells me he has to pull all his best stuff out for me and catches my wrist and pulls me into his chest. Because I can hear his heart thumbing in his chest; because he’s okay with being made fun of; because of no reason at all but that I feel like I can trust him, I believe him.
He’s magically charming. He’s comfortably intelligent. He’s confidently vulnerable.
For the chance at a loving marriage, a man to make a family with, and to explore a new journey with he is the one I believe in, not you. There is no fight in me left for what you did to make me hate you. I am proof of how much love I have to give in every fucking moment that I still do not not love you, even more that I don’t hate you even one bit.
His thumb still lingers on my wrist when he smiles the words to life, “I just want to know you.”
“This isn’t going to work,” drips out of my mouth, all the words have died, before I know what I’ve said, I’ve put out the candle like I’ve put out his smile. My hands are in my lap.
I don’t know what we say for the next two hours, but I know I can’t touch that martini.
My name sounds like tears out of his mouth, but I won’t let him beg. I want to be friends but he takes this night and wraps it around me like a sheet. He is someone I could let my guard down with; he’d be a root; we’d grow and bloom together, “have you decided that now or was this something you’d planned to do tonight?”
“Does it matter?” I ask it tense. I ask it too quick. It’s my advocate and protect voice, my no nonsense gestures, my conference room posture. I ask it because I don’t know the answer to his question.
The server interrupts, but his eyes don’t leave mine: “grey goose martini, dry, extra olives,” and after ordering my drink (!) for me (!), he takes my hand back, he advocates, first, by being sweet, “I think we can work this out,” and he kisses my hand. His eye contact with me burns so I close my eyes.
I don’t know what we say for the next two hours, but I know I can’t touch that martini. Round two for me is too dangerous; I tend to loosen my grip on reality with a cocktail. Round two for him is playful engagement: he picks up the martini and sips it, “see,” his eye brows raise (why do men look so sexy when they raise their eyebrows this way?), “not trying to poison you,” but I don’t laugh because his joke is insensitive. He doesn’t even know it.
I don’t tell him that though; I don’t tell him anything- that’s the problem. Instead we dance around the problem, I let him take my hands back two more times, and I agree to stop talking. In so many ways, is he not better than you? He dances better than you. He kisses better than you. He’s taller than you, and he does this thing with his hands on my hips that make me want to do things I never did with you, but I don’t. He’s possibly more fun, kinder, smarter, and would love me better than you!
There’s nothing to stop one more time shoving me against his kitchen counter or running his hands on the silky part of my shirt. I don’t stop him from kissing down my collar bone. I don’t stop his gazes or his patient prods or his final attempt when he stops, his hands laced on top of mine, “just,” he’s a little bit breathless from wanting to know me, “tell me something,” and he elaborates that he wants something the people who know me really well know, that someone who loves me knows. It takes hours to unlace our fingers but only two months to reveal I’m never going to let him unlace my heart.
Nope, that’s still yours. How do I share that I’m paneled with your blue eyes; wallpapered making love on the living room floor? Your way of taking my hand in between shifting gears- all the conversations that lasted for hours in the car then led to beautiful marital years. Among our ten years together is cooking, and cleaning a home, spiritual awakenings and transformation, removing the rusted lid on the paint can of childhood abuse. There’s trying for our daughter, crying on the bathroom floor, taking pictures in grassy fields, holding each other on the bathroom floor, raising chickens, adopting our golden retriever, and losing our daughter. We made it through no money days, several studious degrees, and endless misunderstandings of each other’s dreams. I held you when you fell off the ladder even after you shredded the murals of my life, ambitions, and dreams. There are endless ways that I died at the end of our marriage, thousands of dollars it took to hit rock bottom, and over six years of giving life back to my existence, to make it matter, but are you still the one I run to; still the one?
You are still the one I chose to spend the rest of my life with in the sense of what the hell does a pile of dumb divorce papers matter? I built a house with you. Tearing it down, selling it to someone else- these things don’t eliminate the home.
Your decisions had repercussions for him.
Even though you are home to me, I am under no misconception that my life is 5,000 times better without you. It is. Better than that, I went on to change the world without you holding me back; it turns out as much as I suited you in armor, I have always been the Gladiator. Yet, he can’t have me either, and I can’t find a way to stop loving you.
Love doesn’t, even when I need it to, end. Will I be stuck with you? Your decisions had repercussions for him. No matter who he is to me, am I stuck knowing that you are the one? Our marriage wasn’t false.
There’s no fake identity in my marriage, no false vow in my history. I did my job and never let it end. I’m trying to figure out what that means for me, but I sure as hell haven’t a clue what that means for you.
Maybe your affair sleeps like a rock next to you. The shattered memories of your hands playing piano keys over mine doesn’t break your ability to play. Is you memory aged already that you’ve fooled yourself to forget the way it feels to have your wife look at you so beautifully, stroking my hair, and the way our minds always seemed to connect?
Why can’t I love him like I love you? Does this resolve me to a single life? Does that mean a lonely life when I know my desire for motherhood and family and marriage? If I am condemned by my singleness than you are the one climbing the mountain.
I won’t be the one to carry that heavy cross or to hang upon it. I won’t do to someone what you did to me. I won’t take someone down a path like this just to prove I can. What you did to me, I won’t do to him.