There was a time when she sat in her room with the door closed, her back against the door, talking into the phone to someone else’s husband.
The kids were downstairs playing. When they were younger, she never would have left them alone, but they were still young and she was more focused on her own pain than on their potential pain.
The years passed and the someone else’s husband she had been talking to was a faint memory. She wondered, as she drove along the familiar streets that led to her children’s school, did he think about her? Even more than that, she wondered if his wife ever knew.
And then she began to follow the trail of memory to wonder if she had been the only other one, the only dalliance outside of his lifelong commitment to his unknowing innocent wife.
She couldn’t relate to to the person she had been. That was a lifetime ago. She could not imagine today wanting someone else, let alone someone committed to another woman.
What was the tipping point between I-know-this-isn’t-right and I’m-going-to-do-it?
She had read the writings of women who lived in love but still found other kinds of love outside the bounds of their picture-book lives. She didn’t judge. She understood.
Some loves wound through the river of nuance to last a lifetime but with the kind of bumps along the way that made it ok to rationalize extracurricular activities.
In the coffee shop, mothers from her children’s school whom she didn’t know but had seen in the halls sat three tables away, talking loudly about the unfairness of the volunteer hours policy. Who was to blame? they pondered.
She hated the question of blame. It was really such an unfair question. There are always many answers and many types of blame and sometimes, most of the time, it was worthless to actually assign blame in a particular direction.
Things happen. We handle them as we can, and then we move on to tomorrow. Blame doesn’t really play a part in the stage play of life.
The morning was dawning in yellows and pinks. The street outside was quiet. Birds chirped, a harbinger of spring.
She remembered the streets of Gettysburg, somber, even though teeming with activity. As if the veil of so much death lay heavily over.
It was a place she had wanted to see, to walk the fields, imagine the boys and men with their rifles and military gear charging up and charging down in an effort to eradicate the other.
In the end, the other is us. I am you. You are me. The difference is slight between us.
When we see that, there is no need for blame. There is no need to experience the hard lines of absolute we set.
Life is a river that bends and weaves on its way. We construct the concept of forever to reassure ourselves that nothing is for naught, but really, it’s all a toss of the dice.
She had in mind to write a novel about the secrets we all keep quiet. Why do we hide the truth? What stories are worth telling, and why do we run away from the details of our lives?
Today, we are here together. Everything is full of love and kindness. Tomorrow, I point my rifle into the darkness and question everything.
What changed? Nothing. Nothing at all. We’re riding the river through the occasional rapids, over the calm shallow spaces, into its inevitable merging with ocean or lake, something bigger, where we are rendered insignificant and silent, holding on for dear life just to breathe another day.