It was just after 10pm and I was in my car dressed in a nightgown and snow boots. The temperature was far below freezing and I’d forgotten to bring my coat.
Having driven aimlessly around my neighborhood, I pulled over and texted my friend Timna in the breeziest way I could imagine.
I inquired about the location of our mutual friend’s new townhouse. Something in the tone of her text, which provided a vague description, alerted me to the fact that she knew. She may not have known everything, but she knew something.
Trying to ignore this for the moment, I followed her directions and found Melissa’s parked car near a row of townhouses. All the townhouses were dark except for one. The blinds were drawn, but there was a light coming from the second story window of the end unit.
God, and possibly the neighbors (because it’s that kind of neighborhood), knew how long I sat there, intermittently staring at the window and then my white fingers clenched on the wheel, before I called my friend Lourdes.
“Hello?” She sounded sleepy and this made me cry. Through my unintelligible tears, I managed to get across that it was me and I was parked outside our friend Melissa’s new townhouse because she was having an affair with my husband.
Lourdes was having trouble absorbing things. “Wait. Melissa has a townhouse?”
Calm after my first gush of emotion, I explained that since the time Lourdes, Timna, Melissa and I went out for drinks, a great deal had come to light, including Melissa’s separation from her husband and her affair with my husband.
Lourdes interrupted me. “Lee?”
“Where are the children?”
“Okay, then come over right now.”
I looked up at the golden square of light peaking around the closed blinds then scanned the first story windows, all dark.
“Lee? Are you there?”
“What are you doing right now?”
“I am looking for a big rock to throw through the window.”
“Um, no,” Lourdes said, “Listen to me. I will make you a drink. What would you like?” I heard her whispering to Brad. “Brad’s going to make us cocktails and we can sit by the fire. Why don’t you spend the night?”
By that time, I’d driven around the block and was next to Melissa’s car. From that angle, I could see yet another window aglow on the second floor. I guessed, correctly as it turned out, that Melissa had parked outside so that my husband could pull his car into her garage.
“Hello?” Lourdes’s voice seemed to float in all of a sudden and I wondered if she’d been talking before that.
“Where are you?”
I stared at Melissa’s silver Audi. “Do you think it’s okay to let the air out of her tires?”
“No,” Lourdes said and whispered something else to Brad. “Do I need to come get you? Are you listening?”
I stared at the hubcaps, which reflected the moonlight.
“Okay. I’m getting my keys and coming over.”
I glanced at the glowing green numbers on the dashboard. Almost midnight. How could we have been on the phone that long? The thought of Lourdes having to come get me seemed stupid so I promised to drive over. Lourdes, just to make sure, stayed on the phone with me pretty much until I pulled into her driveway.
Looking back, I’ve never been so grateful in all my life. Who knows what I would’ve done? Maybe nothing, but I don’t know that. If nothing else, my friend intervened and provided comfort at one of the worst moments of my life. And this is not the only time she’s been courageous enough to step into a dark situation with her cool, levelheadedness. How can we possibly repay friends like this?
In the murky, awful weeks and months that followed, I formed an anti-spy policy for myself based on the following:
1. I, myself, get highly creeped out at the prospect of someone spying on me. Furthermore, my ex is quite controlling and did routinely spy on me. His attempts to control me and to spy on me felt something akin to a criminal act. It felt, for lack of a better word, icky.
2. I didn’t fully trust myself not to throw a big rock through Melissa’s window. Also, I didn’t fully trust myself not to ring her doorbell and punch her in the nose. Naturally, I would’ve been the bad guy if I’d done that. It’s not fair, but it’s true. I would’ve been the bad guy.
3. I likened hacking into my ex’s email or even going through his office to the offensive habit he had of hacking into my email and reading all my journals at his leisure. My history with his prying behavior was enough to curb my own.
4. The few times I did drive by or walk by Melissa’s place when I knew my ex was there, I felt terrible. Instead of making things better, the spying made things worse for me emotionally. It seemed healthier for me to try to stop.
5. Even though I did have cell phone photos of his car at her place and even though I let him know it, I just felt sort of dirty having them. I didn’t want them, ultimately. The courts in my state don’t care if a person has photos. It’s a no fault state and even though you supposedly fare better in the court system as the wronged spouse, I have not found this to be true at ALL! It did not help me one iota. So why bother?
In the end, I look back on that time and simply feel tremendous gratitude for my friend’s wisdom. I will never regret any time I did NOT spy. But I still remember the times I did, and not fondly. One never knows what would have happened with the road not taken that first night, but there’s a slim chance we could’ve had a COPS situation on our hands.