Love can be messy and unpredictable. Every couple has a story.
10 Years Ago
Friday July 9, 2010
It’s a HOT day outside, but inside the building within the air conditioning I was quite cold most of the day. I wore a sweater over my red dress. It’s even hotter inside the car. The car was started a while ago so the air conditioning would cool it down. But without the movement of the car, it’s not cooling down very quickly.
I’m not in this car alone. It’s not even my car. I’m not supposed to be in this car. If my husband knew he’d be furious. If the guy in the car’s wife knew – she’d be equally as furious.
We just carried out a ton of boxes out to the car full of meeting materials to bring back to our main worksite on Monday after finishing a 3-day long meeting series that my group hosted. On the elevator ride down before exiting the frigid building, he said to me: “When Jack texted me today I told him I took the job. I’m going to announce it to everyone else Monday but I wanted you to know first“.
My heart SANK. Took the job? It was my worst fear. Since he hadn’t mentioned it for a few days I thought perhaps it may have been a dead issue. I suspected it, but secretly hoped my efforts could reverse it. If I were able to wave a magic wand I would have had things go back to the way they were before.
Also – for a quick moment I had no idea who “Jack” was. But not a microsecond later after the shock that he took the job, my heart started rapidly beating – nearly out of my chest. Jack… Jack my husband? Yes, who else? Jack texted him?
“WHAT? Jack texted you and said what???” (me)
“He asked if I was going to take the job” (him)
With the giant lump forming in my throat it was all I could muster to mutter “Congratulations”.
We walked quietly out to the parking lot and to his car to deposit the boxes before he asked if I’d like to come sit with him for a few minutes. Warning bells SCREAMED about what a terrible idea it was, but my heart bled over and instantly won. Without thinking I said yes.
Here we are… This could go well or not. I don’t even know which outcome is considered a well and which isn’t. I don’t even know what I hope. I’m confused. My head and heart are in two different places. We are sitting appropriately far apart. These precious minutes alone could be life changing before we have to scat and our absence is noticed. His hand is close to mine. He is in the drivers’s seat and his hand is resting on the center console, as is mine. Neither of us knows what to say.
The silence is broken when one of us asks how the other has been. Suddenly a flood gate has opened. We are both expressing all kinds of emotion. Both of us are catching one another up as to how the last 6 weeks have been and what has transpired. How did his brother take the news that he backpedaled? How was his best friend in CA’s wedding? How are his kids and wife? Similar questions come my way. Everyone is fine. The brother was shocked and ticked. His best friend pulled him aside to ask if his heart wants what his head tells him is right, and asked when is he going to do something that makes him happy. I asked how he answered and exclaimed that my heart and head were just in a quandary about whether or not I should even get into the car.
The next few minutes are a blur. At some point he tells me he is confused too. At some point his fingers inch over to mine and touch the top of my hand. It’s so hot despite the cool air starting to blow through the car. We start to notice some people we know trickling out of the building and decide to drive to another part of the parking lot.
It was only for 6 weeks that we attempted to begin a relationship. And in 6 weeks I was already sick of doing things like this – driving to a different place, needing to hide or duck; or change the conversation when someone else came in the room. And now it’s been 6 weeks since he broke it off and both our spouses sighed their relief and put us both on constant watch. No text, email, social media post or call went unmonitored. The only place they couldn’t monitor was work, and his wife insisted he take a new job – soon. More than anything that was my worst fear. While my husband who was the most non-religious person prayed he took the offered job, I tried to undue his efforts with my own prayers. My husband never texted him before. This was a new level of desperation. I couldn’t help but wonder if he said yes to the new job simply due to the fear of the text.
So we pull to a new spot. We confess the feelings and confusion are still there. Now that he will not be working in the previous capacity he did, it does open a new door for us. Heck, if I ever want to see him again I have to continue some kind of relationship. I said something along the lines of what a great meeting we just pulled off because we were a great team. He said the only way we could be a team now would be on the home front. It was the crack in the door that perhaps he was looking for something more.
12 weeks ago things were simpler. I was attracted to him of course, but no conversations ever took place where a line was crossed. That line was traversed 12 weeks before. From that point there were a whirlwind of conversations and meet ups before and after work, and on weekends where we confessed how much we liked one another. Some dinners, some stolen romantic moments, and many, many emails. We began confessing how unhappy we were in our marriages and discussing what life together might be like, as difficult as it may be. We became a little less cautious and were caught when his wife came behind him late one night when he messaged me the words “Hi sexy”.
That’s all it took. She confronted him. He confessed he was thinking about leaving her. She posted something on one of my social media pages that I didn’t see until early the next morning. I took it down immediately, but not knowing who may have seen it – I confessed the same to my own husband. My pseudo lover broke it off with me after a few days of confusion and now 6 weeks has elapsed. What will become of us?
Do we pick up where we left off? Which was basically at ground zero… We hardly knew each other outside of work, which isn’t to say much. He wasn’t even at my job that long and heck – I reported to him!
But the strangest thing happened the moment I met him. It was a cold February day in 2008. I was sitting in my office with my oldest and coziest sweater I drug around everywhere encased around my body. My bare feet were curled under me, heels kicked off under my desk. I had my reading glasses on and my hair was clipped up in a messy bun. My then acting boss Lydia walked in with a man behind her. It was the first time I saw him in my life. And I don’t kid when I say that my world just kind of stopped.
It was less than a second, but in that second I felt like my world would fall apart and then all would be better than anything. I saw my then 13-marriage crumbling, tears of joy, tears of pain all around, literally structures of something I couldn’t see falling to pieces.
This took a second. It made my heart race and brought a fleeting moment of panic. Lydia had a call and walked away. He walked into my office and asked about my pictures. I snapped out of it my temporary flash of terror and answered. He was a complete stranger. Lydia came back in and apologized for having to walk away for a moment. She then introduced him as the person who was hired to be my new boss. She sang my praises and explained my position to him. They left so Lydia could take him around to meet others, and I went back to work with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
He didn’t start work until September that year, but every time I even heard his name, I had a similar feeling of when I met him that one time. I experienced a brief moment of panic followed by a feeling of peace.
10 Years Later
Friday, July 10, 2020
More than 12 years later and now 10 years since that day in the car I realize that something in the universe showed me in lapsed time what my future would be.
Tonight I sit and knit, getting up occasionally to dance to some 80’s music alone or with the dog while Daren cooks us dinner. Every once in a while I feel like I need to pinch myself. Tonight was one of those nights. I told him so. He has those moments too and tells me when they happen. I happened to realize what day it is. I remember it because July 9 is one of my brother’s birthdays. I remember the day in the car well.
That day in the car was a turning point. We made the conscious decision to give “us” a shot. Both of our marriages were already over for completely different reasons than the “us” factor and from what each of the respective breakdowns were. Daren made the announcement at work that Monday that he was leaving. There wasn’t a person who wasn’t shocked. I played along with a very broken and very scared heart.
My head and heart were in such conflict. I followed my heart. Not everyone would agree with our decision. It’s not a story we enjoy sharing, but it is OUR story. And during the ‘pinch me’ moments we have on evenings like this I am confident that I would do it over again and again.
All relationships have their own story. Ours wasn’t easy, but nothing in life that is worth it is. Most decisions are difficult ones. The trick is to make them and know you did the best you could at the time.
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