I skipped last month's Blogging for Books ("meanest thing I've ever done") for reasons best known to me but related to this post. This month's topic is actually a choice of three: lies, fornication, or going home. It occurred to me immediately that I could do a helluva trifecta. It took me a few days to decide whether to admit to this garbage in public. But what's life without drama? So without further ado...
Richard left on Tuesday morning, kissing me goodbye outside my apartment. I tried to smile and keep it light, so he’d be sure I understood there were no promises between us. Not up for a long-distance relationship right now, he said; we lived hundreds of miles apart. But maybe someday… I understood. I’d tried the long-distance thing before, and I knew how it went. Too many things change while you’re apart. I understood—or thought I did.
I also believed that this just might be love. He treated me so wonderfully, respected me totally, was more fun and intelligent than any man I’d dated recently—and we got along. That was the most beautiful thing about being with him. We’d spent Saturday in Baltimore, strolling around the Inner Harbor, trying new foods, climbing to the top of buildings just for the view, laughing at everything, snuggling on a bench, and just talking. And talking. And not arguing at all.
It probably sounds strange, but I first realized this was something special during a completely ordinary conversation that afternoon. I’d been divorced for a while, but I still smoldered with the anger and frustration I had always felt when talking about any subject in the world with my first husband. Our whole relationship, start to finish, had been one big argument. We couldn’t decide where to vacation, where to eat, or even what to do on a rainy afternoon. Let’s leave aside the discussion of why I ever married him in the first place. I'd finally come to my senses and now was looking for a change. And here, right next to me, was his total opposite.
What a gorgeous feeling to be with someone I got along with so completely! He gave me flowers, but that wasn’t so special. The kisses weren’t anything special, either—lots of guys had given me those. But Richard cleaned my apartment for me. This was my second clue that he was someone extraordinary. I wanted to pursue this relationship, but not at a distance. That would be no problem; I had no real ties where I was and I could get a transfer to his location in a snap. I went through the next several days humming contentedly and considering the future through rose-colored glasses.
After he left my place, he headed home for a visit with his mom in a small North Carolina town. He was a devoted son who took good care of his ol’ Ma. (Not a mama’s boy, though. Third clue: check.) I’d talked to his mom a few times; what a great woman she was. I got along with her, too. I started to really believe that this could work out, despite the distance.
I was pleased when he called me from his mom’s house; he said he missed me, though it had only been a day. He also said they (whoever “they” were) had thrown him a party there, so he was a bit tipsy on the phone, but mostly coherent. Still good. He’d call when he got back home. I went back to humming contentedly. And he did call.
But over the next few weeks, things started to change between us. (You’re not surprised, are you?) We didn’t talk as often, and when we did, he seemed more professional, less affectionate. I stopped humming and started frowning. He urged me to date a friend of his instead. I was hurt and puzzled, but thought he was probably just being gallant, not realizing that I was willing to wait. If it was a good thing, it would stand the test of time, right? Right? Right…
A few months after that wonderful weekend in Baltimore, a guy I knew talked to Richard’s roommate, got a serious look on his face, then came to talk to me. “Hey, um, it looks like Richard’s getting married.” He what?! “To this girl named Stephanie…” He WHAT?!?! I knew about Stephanie. She was the girl with the squeaky voice who was always chasing him whenever he went back to his hometown. He’d told me about her and laughed at what a dumb redneck airhead she was, how completely annoying she was, how she would never in a million years catch him… How? “Um, apparently she’s pregnant…” @#&$(&*#!!!!!
Words cannot describe the white-hot anger that exploded in my head at that moment. Livid? Enraged? I don't think they're close. He was lucky that there was such a long distance between us at that moment, because I’d have ripped his lungs out and made her eat them. Raw. Then tap-danced on her face with spiky stiletto shoes. I would have, I swear. And that's just for a warm-up.
As soon as I could speak coherently again, I tracked him down and asked if what I’d heard was true. Oh yeah. That night he’d called me to say how much he missed me? He slept with the b****. Why? Well, he was drunk. Sure, that’s a perfectly good way to initiate a long-term (not to mention long-distance) relationship. I have to admit I did throw the long-distance thing in his face. And the little speech he’d given me about not wanting to risk a paternity situation. Oh, how I wished for something more lethal to throw.
At that point, I didn’t so much swear off men as swear at them, about them, and just plain swear. I sulked for a while. Swore some more. Then I dated his friend.