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The Bit Part Players

I don’t care much for surprises, so this is how it goes: There’s a lot of sad stuff, and some funny stuff and I think it ends on a happy note. It starts like this:

The second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating.

And it ends like this:

Which isn’t such a bad place to be.

So. The Second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating. The first worst came a few days later. It was a Wednesday and broke the little left of me.

Lacking self-respect and the ability not to cry, I’d taken the day off work. I sat at our shared laptop, opened up Hotmail and saw M had left herself logged in.

I wouldn’t usually read her email, but it was a few days after what I’ve written about before. I had a fascination with her so- recently-secret life. He I knew by name, and from a few photos. She, it seemed, I didn’t know at all.

The inbox and sent box were overflowing with words that began before Christmas, two months longer than she told me. They were hard to understand. There were gaps, likely filled in with phone calls and texts and intimate talks. I was jumping from inbox to sent box, trying to make sense of it, reading too fast.

I needed to know everything at once, but was also scared of what I was going to find out.

Which, when you think of it, is kinda funny.

And the language was difficult too, because it was written in the secret language of lovers. I didn’t have a lover. She didn’t love me. I was just finding that out.

And here’s a funny part. I was wearing her bathrobe! I’d thrown it on without thinking, even though it didn’t really fit. I probably looked a comical sight, sitting in a too small bathrobe, reading her emails and concentrating hard just to breathe!

The big things should have hurt me most, but they didn’t. The week I believed she spent in Paris with a friend was actually spent in Poland with him. But it felt too comical to be sad, too ridiculous.

For a week, I didn’t know what country my wife was in!

The little things killed me. “I want to talk to you about everything” was just a throwaway line, but that one broke my heart.

And there was so much! More than an email everyday. Furtive planning, shared jokes, flirting, reminiscing, on and on they went. And on and on I read. And I was in them, too. Everyone is a bit part player in somebody else’s life, and so it seemed I was in M’s.

“He’s downstairs making some tea, so I have to be quick..”

“He just asked me what I was laughing at – I couldn’t tell him what you wrote to me! ;)”

“He doesn’t know anything”

I read those over and over. The shock meant that the pain didn’t register immediately, it took time. I had to fill the time, so I read those over and over.

Next was a funny bit I don’t remember. I found myself sitting on the floor. At some point, who knows when, I had to have fallen off the chair! I was struggling to breathe and my hands were shaking and my tears were stinging my eyes. I must have looked awful. And probably kinda funny too.

It took hours and hours to get through them all. After I’d finished reading I cleaned out our hamster’s cage, which is kinda funny because it’s not what you’d expect someone to do after learning all the intimate details of their wife’s infidelity.

But I’d forgotten to do it the day before, and it needed to be cleaned. It was getting dirty and she was probably sad, so I cleaned it and that’s the last funny bit. Crying man in woman’s bathrobe cleans out hamster cage. I’m sure I’ve looked better.

After I finished I sent a text to M. I asked her to try finding another place to stay that night. There was no big confrontation. The drama of the day was done.

And now it’s 2 years later, and I can finally write this down. I’m not broken anymore, pretty much, and 6000 miles away. I’ve learned about myself. I understand more about my flaws, and why things happened. I’m proud of myself too, that I never shouted at her, never let myself be bitter. And I’m proud that I’ve started a new life somewhere else, taken a risk and got some reward.

Most of all, I’m proud that I’ve come far enough to say that I’m proud.

Which isn’t such a bad place to be.

babykittycuddles

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anais Nin~

And She Should Go…

We met outside a bar in a shiny neon night. There were motorbikes and street hawkers and noise and dirt and we talked alone together in a group. My friend L was there, and she sent me a text. The text said something that only a kind and caring friend could send. The text said this:

Body language signs good. Don’t fuck this up, dick.

She – G – has been the best person I could meet. You don’t see yourself with someone else when you’ve been hurt, and broken, and damaged. I didn’t.

And whisper this, but I didn’t think someone would want me. That’s the sort of thing that you really shouldn’t say. And I didn’t, but I thought it. I pushed it down but it was there.

And then I met her, and she was damaged too. Damaged, just like me. The same exact experience, though all of the names had been changed. And is there anything more blissful and reassuring than to meet another human being who understands you?

Yes.

Meeting another human being who understands you, and likes you. And you like and understand them too.

Isn’t that everything that anybody has ever wanted, ever?

Now, she’s leaving. And she should go, she should. I don’t want her to go. I don’t.

It makes sense for her to leave. She hasn’t taken to ‘Nam, and a cosy little role has popped up elsewhere. But my heart is like a child that just doesn’t quite understand. And I don’t want to tell it the truth.

The worst thing I could do is fall in love with you

She said.

And I should have said, “Do it”. Because it would have spoken of our natures. Impulsive and Reckless. A bit fucked in the head. And it would have made her giggle, and I like that sound. And it would have told her how I feel. Again, I feel.

I didn’t say “Do it”. I didn’t think of those words. I lay in the bed and looked at her, and she looked at me too. I think she was thinking what I was thinking and what I was thinking was this:

Stop time, remember the now.

But memory is hard to hold. I don’t even remember what words came next. The moment, like all the other moments, was gone.

I like listening to her. She chooses her words carefully, but with seemingly no effort at all. She makes me think differently about things. She smiles, even when she’s sad.

She’s lackadaisical or passionate but never in between. There’s no concrete plan, she doesn’t know where she’ll be but she wants to learn to trapeze and she will. She floats through life like me. She’s unfazeable. She’s witty. We do silly things together every time we meet. She plays poker. I fancy the pants off her.

But we’ve been damaged, and I don’t think she wants to be damaged again. We’ve met at the right time and the wrong time too.

And she should go.

And she will go.

When she goes, I’ll think this:

Would I wish that things were different when I know all things must pass? I wouldn’t. Who would?

“And I will always wonder how it would be if we never had met,

Life would be easier though dull, I suspect,

And I’d never claim you were mine.

Just if we were words, we would rhyme.”

~ Gruff Rhys ~

Odd, but Good

After four months of WordPress being blocked – the downside of living under a Communist regime – WordPress has miraculously returned, and so have I. Vietnam is still home for the time being, with travelling and teaching taking up most of my time.

Life has been good. I’ve even stumbled upon two women who, despite possessing ample good taste and intelligence in all other affairs, managed to fall for what could laughably be described as “my charms”.

The first of these two encounters was good for me. It was almost ten years since my lips had touched the lips of anyone other than M, and at the risk of sounding hopelessly pathetic it was a relief to find someone who wished to be intimate with me. Infidelity is a crushing blow, and it did crush me. I don’t think I’d realized quite how much.

I won’t go into details, obviously, other than to say I have never been with a woman who didn’t have the common decency to fake it. Am I getting to grips with the whole bragging thing yet?

The second woman, lets call her G, is an ongoing relationship. The same age as me, married within a month of me, unmarried at almost the same time, and with the same insane notion of fleeing her home Country to teach in Southeast Asia. So we have a few things in common.

We aren’t together together. Devastatingly atrocious endings to marriages tends to put you off the couple thing, but we do some of the things together that couples like to do.

She’s interesting, and laid-back, funny and good to talk to. She has good stories, and a laconic, dry way of telling them.

Like the Japanese couple in Indonesia, who complained very politely of a lizard in their room. The receptionist explained that geckos were everywhere, that they got into rooms and that little could be done to stop them but in any case, they were quite harmless. The couple listened, nodded, meekly returned to their room.

Only after they checked out next day did the cleaner discover the Komodo dragon in the bathroom.

I’ve had no contact with M, other than one picture of her on Facebook, on her birthday, in a restaurant. She’s sat next to a man I don’t know. A colleague? Lover? I don’t know. More importantly, I don’t particularly care.

I want to hope it is a boyfriend and that she’s happy and well, and in time I will. But for the moment, not caring is progress. I’m getting over her. Odd, but good.

Which, on a good day, is probably the best review I can expect from a woman with whom I’ve been intimate.

(Forgive my macho boasting).

Image

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

The World One Year Ago

I thought anniversaries were over for me, but here are my one year ago words:

My life, in the last few weeks, has come to resemble a newspaper and not a story. Gone is the structure, the narrative, the aims or the arcs. Life, my life, is now a series of unconnected, meaningless events.

This blog won’t always be so bleak, but I have a little more gloom to gift you.

My wife has cut me out of her life without telling me.

After eight years she has cheated on me, and is now in the process of leaving me for good. Not for better but definitely worse.

If pain should be embraced and burned as fuel for our journey, then I’m at the beginning of a very long trip.

I knew something was rotten in the same way an animal is aware that it’s dying. A dog is incapable of equating it’s deteriating condition to the end of it’s life. It merely experiences every moment in isolation, each increasingly worse.

And I too have now experienced something dying, without being aware of it’s impending death. Life is full of experiences!

This is a blog with a purpose, because I no longer have one. In writing it, I hope I might find some humour, some insight or, at the very least, a little comfort.

This blog will not be bitter. I may be betrayed, hurt, embarrassed, depressed, angry, jealous and broken, but bitter I am not. Hearts aren’t to be hardened even if they are made to be broken.

This blog will be honest and avoid self-pity, though in the interests of honesty, into this blog some self-pity may slip.

This blog isn’t about revenge because I don’t want to dig two graves.

M has diligently cut away at the threads that connected us, and set herself free, floating away and leaving me among the debris of our former life. I am, as I write, empty and alone.

I’m at the end of something and the beginning of something else, and I’ve no idea about either. And so begins the trip…

I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.

Anais Nin

Rock Wonders in the Sky

Halong Bay is a good place to be: Mysterious, vast and eerie. Two thousand limestone islets jutting out of lagoon blue water, echoing into the distance. Sailing through them, you expect at any moment to hear the roar of King Kong. The sense of being at the edge of the World surrounds you like the rocks.

I sailed on a Chinese style junk to take me around for two days. With a capacity of thirty I expected good company. Instead, only seven. Myself and three couples.

Yet more hard practice in the getting-used-to-being-single-stakes.

They were nice and I was polite, making sure not to ruin their romance by my presence too much. Sitting on the top of the junk, on a long empty deck alone was good, in any case. Silence and movement. It’s getting easier to be alone.

In the early hours we fished for squid, while drinking Hanoi Vodka. It’s a drink which, along with getting you blindingly drunk, (or at the very least, blinding you) almost certainly has a practical use as drain cleaner. Not for the feint of liver.

The squid teased us but we caught one, cheering the victory like it was Moby Dick himself. We talked, and smoked, and joked and drank, seven people outside of time and the World for a while. A little light in the middle of  the black Bay.

Afterwards we smoked in silence for a while. Each of us alone in our own thoughts.

And my thoughts were these: Right now, in this short silence, all of them are alone like me. And I’m together with them in being alone.

Halong Bay is a good place to be.

On the Other Side of the World

It’s been ten months since my last confession, but I have been a bit of a busy bee. I’m 8700 miles from home. You can’t run away from sadness but I thought perhaps I could fly.

Vietnam is now home and has been since November. I’ve returned to the teaching English game.

Life is good, and I think of M less. I saw her before I left. We talked, a long talk, hours and hours covering years and years. When we said goodbye it was final. We cried in a fairly dismal, mundane setting, on a road by a river. We kissed and we parted. 8 years ended with the touch of two lips.

I haven’t kissed any other lips since. I’m still all too aware how lips can so easily lie. Friends and food and drink keep the loneliness confined to darker corners of my mind.

M now lives in the shadows of my life, but this is good. The long shadows remind me that to my life has returned some Sun.

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Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.
Thomas Wolfe

 

Welcome to the World of Adultery and Divorce…

My life, in the last few weeks, has come to resemble a newspaper and not a story. Gone is the structure, the narrative, the aims or the arcs. Life, my life, is now a series of unconnected, meaningless events.

This blog won’t always be so bleak, but I have a little more gloom to gift you.

My wife has cut me out of her life without telling me.

After eight years she has cheated on me, in spectacular Jerry Springer-like proportions, and is now in the process of leaving me for good. Not for better but definitely worse.

If pain should be embraced and burned as fuel for our journey, then I’m at the beginning of a very long trip.

I knew something was rotten in the same way an animal is aware that it’s dying. A dog is incapable of equating it’s deteriating condition to the end of it’s life. It merely experiences every moment in isolation, each increasingly worse.

And I too have now experienced something dying, without being aware of it’s impending death. Life is full of experiences!

This is a blog with a purpose, because I no longer have one. In writing it, I hope I might find some humour, some insight or, at the very least, a little comfort.

This blog will not be bitter. I may be betrayed, hurt, embarrassed, depressed, angry, jealous and broken, but bitter I am not. Hearts aren’t to be hardened even if they are made to be broken.

This blog will be honest and avoid self-pity, though in the interests of honesty, into this blog some self-pity may slip.

This blog isn’t about revenge because I don’t want to dig two graves.

M has diligently cut away at the threads that connected us, and set herself free, floating away and leaving me among the debris of our former life. I am, as I write, empty and alone.

I’m at the end of something and the beginning of something else, and I’ve no idea about either. And so begins the trip…

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to
getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into
small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
~Mark Twain~

Olivia A. Cole

Author. Blogger. Bigmouth.

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