We screamed over bowls of cornflakes in the morning about nothing. It was no way to live. Ten years of marriage, work together, parent together, everything together. Too much together. So one morning over oatmeal, we decided to see other people, but stay together for the sake of two children — ages two and four — for the sake of a decade of history and just to say, well, I do love you, have loved you for so long I don’t know anything else.
Our decision to open our marriage was one of desperation. I know it’s not the traditional way. “Stick with your marriage and work on it,” they say, but I suspect this advice comes more from fear of rejection and pain than sound judgment. Believe me when I say it wasn’t our first choice either. We read the books, talked to therapists, learned new ways to communicate, tried to forgive and forget, but our togetherness was killing us. So we took a leap and when I left our Brooklyn apartment early one Monday morning for a two week business trip to San Francisco, we parted with only one rule: Be respectful of us.
I never expected to meet someone.
It Happens As Unexpected
Like when a long time colleague offers to show you around his city. He remembered my penchant for book stores and art from an e-mail I wrote last year. By the time we reached the Mission, we walked together in silence, as if to say, no, we’re not really holding hands. That’s when he turned to me and awkwardly banged his mouth into my eye.
Was he worried I’d say no and pull away from his kiss?
I was worried too.
Then it came naturally.
Three drinks later, we danced and kissed. I bit at his beard and pulled away, loving the smile and how much he loved it, finally stumbling home to his room as it became light out again. We slept most of the day, waking, getting warm from the sun pouring in the window, removing more layers from the night before until by the time the sun high-nooned we lay naked in bed together. Feeling overheated, I crawled across the bed to grab a half drunk bottle of fierce berry blue gatorade on the night stand and for a moment self consciously wondered if he was watching me, did he like what he saw. I am, after all, the mother of two who hasn’t seen naked mornings with another man in a long time.
I lay back down, drank again and felt the sweet stickiness dribble down my chin to neck and onto the bed.
Last night together: He watched me pack my things into a suitcase. I felt his large, rough hand on my waist as he guided me to DNA lounge to introduce me to his favorite DJ where we danced again all night until it was time for me to fly home.
I didn’t see it coming. Suddenly, his head banged against mine, and then it was over. The in-between details fuzz over in the light of day-to-day life.
Did you brush my hair from my face with your hand? Do you know what it meant for me to be naked beside you? The first time I’d been like that with anyone else in as long as I can remember. You are the first after the first.
What I remember is sweetness. Sweet gatorade, quenching real thirst on a hot sunny day in Alameda. I remember nakedness and sleep and kissing. There was never meant to be a future. There already was no past. Just a now where we both let go of everything outside — broken relationships, fights over bowls of cereal, fears of intimacy, not being good enough, not being happy or strong or sexy enough. We let them go for now.
Were we to sit across a table, perhaps, having a drink at some bar in Alameda again, would our fingers twine together, a little bit awkward but perfectly suited? Would I tell him that he reminded me what it was like when my husband and I first met? That without him, I would not have fallen back in love and put aside years of anger and feeling hated. Could I let him know without him I wouldn’t have been able to return home and say yes, again, to my life with my family, as I was able to say yes to him for twenty four hours in San Francisco.
Or would we smile across our coffees, discussing details as if nothing else ever existed between us while my husband, two small children and three thousand miles of distance wait outside.
If you’re new to our Love in the Time of Matador series, check out some other great stories of love, heartbreak and healing.
You may have also noticed this is the first anonymous article published on Matador. Normally, we expect our writers to stand behind their words, but Love In the Time of Matador is a slightly different case. In order to allow people to fully express themselves without fear of exposing their sex and personal lives, this series alone allows for pseudonyms. Have a story you want to tell? Let us know.