What I remember of last August are scattered images of stolen moments and shyly given kisses. The first time “Love u” lit up the screen on my phone; weeks later sitting in my car on the side of the interstate sobbing as I read his first declaration of real affection. I don’t remember seeing him more than a couple times, and only for a few moments at that, but I remember the dizzying effect of his words and the slightest brush of his fingers along the side of my hand. I spoke to him a few days ago and I don’t think he remembers any of that, I think he only remembers the tragic end. The part I wish to forget; the part I wish, more than anything, that I could take back.
Our home was still fraught with tension and stony silences back then. My Brother had visited briefly from Texas and I recall him telling my Husband to lay off me, something decidedly out of character. My brother had lamentably inherited the Italian view of marriage and thought that the man ruled the roost. For him to admonish my husband for the way he treated me was tantamount to treason. My Brother knew I was working hard, long hours and was being greeted by complaints and accusations when I arrived home each night. I think he saw that I had reached my limit. My Husband did not see.
In no way am I excusing my own behavior; I am not blaming my Husband for the way I acted. I fully understand that I had no business falling in love, that that part of my life should have stayed buried deep within me, where I might occasionally hear the rumblings from a distance but they would never be loud enough to turn my head. But when the man that is supposed to love and cherish you does not do so, those rumblings rival Niagara Falls in sheer volume and force. It’s impossible to keep your head straight.
It was nearly impossible for me not to draw comparisons between the Husband who had clearly grown weary of his wife and the Boy who needed me. Looking back, I cannot decide if it was God or Satan illuminating those stark differences. If Satan is indeed the great deceiver, how did I, with my broken cage, stand a chance of knowing the difference? I remember the Boy calling me from the store one day. We chatted while he walked around the music department until he excused himself to ask the clerk a question. I listened as he inquired as to where he might find an Andrea Bocelli CD. With a sharp intake of my breath a single pained syllable escaped my lips:”Si.” I loved Bocelli. My Husband thought it was stupid to listen to a CD in another language. I’m sure it seems stupid that something as seemingly insignificant as that could mean so much to me but I assure you, it brought me to tears. A marriage of opposites is a painful thing. Each time the light shone on another common point of interest between the Boy and me, I felt healed. I felt my heart coming back to me.
It wasn’t until late August that my Husband finally found a job and went back to work. The breath we’d been holding for six long months whooshed out in one giant sigh of relief. Financially, we were in bad shape by then. It had become such a sore topic of discussion between us that I refused to even participate in the conversation. He was bound and determined to keep a house that was rapidly deteriorating in value; a house that we had no equity left in; a house that was strangling us. I let the conversations go and celebrated him finding a job.
While he was acclimating to a new company and I was fantasizing about a life with another man, She was plotting to move out. I was so overwhelmed by the maelstrom of emotions around me that I didn’t pay attention to what She was planning. I know, secretly, in my heart, that I wanted Her to move out for one reason only: If I ever found the courage to leave my husband I wanted Her to be safely settled somewhere else beforehand. I did not want Her to be caught in what I assumed would be a vicious parting. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what would really happen months down the road. Never once did I imagine being pinned in a chair while the man I married screamed violently just inches from my face. Never once did I imagine the cold steel of the shotgun barrel clenched in my fists. Never once did I imagine losing the Boy who started it all.
I understood Her reasons for moving downtown and for wanting to be on Her own. I, myself, had grown weary of suburbia and longed for the chicness of the city. How I would adore Friday nights on the terrace of our local corner restaurant, sharing a fish fry and a cold beer with our neighbors and walking home slightly tipsy on a warm summer night. I might have even reached the point where I wanted to enjoy the labors of others by walking the magnificent gardens of the city parks rather than toiling in the soil of my own backyard. Aside from wanting to escape the tension that was our home, I think She sought to explore Her lifestyle out from under the watchful stare of her parents. I understand that now. Back then, She could have never brought a girl home to my Husband’s house. He would not approve. I don’t know what I would have thought back then but I do know the rose colored glasses of love and the Boy’s soft words would have taken the edge off anything for me.
By September, She was moved out and our house became even quieter. I worked long days, often coming home at nine o’clock at night. My Husband worked second shift and left the house shortly after ten o’clock. Each night my cell phone would vibrate silently, tucked away in my bra, with the same question: “is he gone yet?” As soon as my answer was yes, the phone would ring. We would talk for a few stolen moments as I curled up in bed, cradling the phone as if it were him and tucking it under my pillow after we said goodnight, where I could easily feel the vibration of his “love u” delivered late, late in the night.
In retrospect, I wish I had stopped Her moving out. I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I had cared about anything other than that Boy, but I didn’t. It’s no excuse, but what I felt for him was so strong, so consuming, there just wasn’t anything else left.