The soon-to-be divorced Genius moved out. But left his clothes. The sight of them in the closet made me ill. So did the wedding gift he gave me the day we married. It hung on the wall in the bedroom. Two pictures of the place where he proposed and the little ring he fashioned out of a twig which he dropped on the ground but I somehow found two weeks later. They were framed and inscribed below was, “I promise to love and honor you all the days of my life.” Below that it should have read, “But I am two people. The other Genius promises to betray you as only a narcissistic, vapid loser can.”
I ripped off the backing, took out the pictures and shredded them, tore the ring in two and trashed everything but the frame. That I will use again.
Then I packed my bags for my journey back East. We met at the airport. Where we were told our flight would be delayed, forcing us to miss our connection. But they would happily drive us to another airport and we could continue on our journey, which had now been extended by four hours. Complete. Agony.
I have done a lot of challenging things in my life. I have conquered arachnophobia, got back on a horse after being tossed, ate sea urchin (that might have been the hardest), and gracefully handled the discovery of The Genius’ four-year long affair. But to have to spend the day in a plane with him, separated by only an aisle was too much to bear. I now know exactly how it feels to have your skin crawl. Mine was acting like a hundred thousand-leggers on crack. A metallic taste coated my mouth.
We finally landed and proceeded to pick up the rental car. Wouldn’t you know he got it from The Happy Dance chick. As Jennifer Aniston once said, “He’s missing a sensitivity chip.” He drove the boys and me to my brother’s home where I unloaded our luggage as if the end of the world was eminent and I would only survive if I could get inside and slam the door in six seconds.
“Are you coming to my Mom’s house on Saturday?”
I sent the boys inside and put my bags down. I locked eyes with him. “I am not going to your Mom’s house, I am not going to see your father, and please stop calling my family and telling them you love them.” I started to feel like he was trying to drive me crazy. In the most real sense of the phrase. I would rather eat a sea urchin while stroking a tarantula under its chin while being kicked by a horse than see anyone in his family. A family of adulterers. Every single one of them. Multiple times. Oh, but this nugget of information was hidden from me until 6 weeks after we were married and his mother and father dropped the divorce bomb on us. The apple falls not far…
“I’d like to see your Mom.”
“My mom does not want to see you, hear from you or even think that you may still be on the planet.” If she could send you right to Hell she would. Express. She’d even fork over miles for the ticket.
His face went white. My mom is a very special lady that no one would betray. She welcomed him into this family with open arms. On the night when he asked for my hand in marriage she expressed her one concern given his occupation.
“I am concerned that you will stray in marriage because of the environment in which you work.”
“I would never hurt your daughter in that way.”
But what I will do is do exactly as I please and blame it on everyone but myself. Compartmentalizing is a fascinating skill. It had not occurred to him that by cheating on me he had betrayed my mother, my whole family. He actually believed that they still cared about him. If I had called my Mom and said, “The Genius has been run over by an elephant seal,” she would have asked for the address to the party celebrating his demise and inquired as to the health and well-being of the seal.
He turned and left the garage, driving away from a family that embraced him as a son, a brother and a friend. Every one of them feeling the same sense of betrayal and disgust as me.
I walked into my safe house, tucked my boys into bed and marveled at my ability to weather 16 hours with The Genius.
Every day since the pocket call has changed me in large ways. The next four days would center me, preparing me for a life on my own. I was balancing on a rolling log, water cooling my fast-moving feet. And every once-in-a-while a hand would appear, helping to steady me. I grabbed the hand of Mr. Jackpot and smiled.