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Laura, Toucan Editrice

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Mouthful of Names, Continued

And then one day we weren’t. It was like something snapped and I wish I could say it was gradual, and maybe it was and I just didn’t see it until I noticed that Kyle had lost a lot of hair. Until I saw that he wasn’t advancing fast enough with his career and he started complaining about my friends. The pans we got at my wedding shower started to wear down, the Teflon flaking away, and our dishwasher no longer worked. It wasn’t him, it wasn’t me. After a while it just got old and a little boring. We stopped having those long conversations over left over Chinese food. I started to enjoy the wine at restaurants more than his company.

It was the job that did it. I’d never thought I’d be one of those wives, the kind who has to see her husband garner promotion after promotion. But I’d been doing fairly well at my job, I’d advanced a few job titles, gotten a couple of raises. They sent me to San Francisco once or twice a year to do book fairs and whatnot. The rent was getting higher, we both felt as if we needed a bigger place, there were things that had to be done and then Kyle came home one day, his hair soaking wet because he’d been standing out in the rain, and said, “Well, I lost my job.”

And what I would have done two years ago is given him a hug and asked him if he were all right. But I just looked at him, watched his wet hair and his rumpled clothes and I was embarrassed. I didn’t even bother to disagree with his boss for letting him go. I just looked at him and said, “How are we supposed to pay the rent?” He shook his head and walked away.

It spiraled from there. He started spending a lot of time on the couch, staring at a flickering flat screen while I dusted the living room for company or tried to put the dishes away. When I came home from work sometimes it was as if he hadn’t even dressed. He stopped cutting his hair. I started going out more. Kyle stopped approving of my friends. I started hanging out with my fellow editors, twenty-something’s who had never known the meaning of the word commitment, kids with trust funds who had majored in English because if they couldn’t find a job after college it didn’t really matter, the rent would be paid until their twenty-first or fifth birthdays and by then they’d start something like law school and get an extension on the free ride.

And it wasn’t that they were particularly fun. I usually just sat at a bar listening to them go on about American Idol, or something funny that one of them had said or done or seen at work that day. I just sat there, drinking my fruity green drink, the name of which I could only remember in a bar. But it wasn’t home. Home where the house was a mess even though Kyle had been there all day, where dishes piled in the sink and the lights were always too dim.

Then Kyle started answering his phone at strange times. Like when I had a couple of friends over for dinner, I cooked chicken Marsala and mashed potatoes and he started texting right there at the table. He was always online. He went to bed at three in the morning, I knew because he woke me up when he finally crawled in, and I could tell that he’d been typing. I could smell it on him like the perfume of another woman.

And then I found her. Her name was Lisa. She called his cell phone one day and I checked the text message. Very unsavory. When I asked Kyle about it he didn’t try to deny it. Kyle was a smart man, that’s why I didn’t understand how he could have such a problem finding another job, and he knew when it was over. He told me everything; that they’d met online in a chat room, she’d been calling for the past few months, she’d been over a couple of times while I was at work. “And even after work,” he’d said. “Because you’ve never home after work.”

And that was it. I asked one of my young trust funded friends if I could stay in her extra room and she immediately agreed. A few weeks later I took a few belongings, the non-essential ones that I hadn’t bothered to pack when I stormed out on Kyle. I took furniture next, the lamp by the bed, my desk, a loveseat and a few bookcases, not to mention all the books. I’d brought them into the marriage and I should have known better, falling for a guy who didn’t read. Kyle and I talked during all this. We considered making it work, we had dinner a few times, but both of us could see it, it was over. We didn’t talk. The sound of forks scraping over the china, the way we cautiously sipped our wine. It wasn’t working and I moved out. He took the apartment until the lease was up and moved into a studio in Brooklyn. I don’t know how he paid the rent but he did finally find another job.

I was alone for a year while I figured my life out. I went to Rome with a female friend and we enjoyed being hit on by the over stimulated Italian men, I took a cruise to the Caribbean with my mother and sister, I started writing a book. I did big things, made grand gestures to try to keep myself occupied. And on the day the divorce papers came, at another bar with another friend, while sipping another apple flavored green concoction, a man with light brown hair and big hazel eyes took a lazy seat next to me and commented on the color of my drink.

“Looks Irish,” he’d said, eyes twinkling. “You know my grandmother’s Irish. She was always obsessed with the home country.”

“Cute,” I’d giggled, watching my friends shoot darts at the opposite wall.

“I’m Sean by the way,” he’d said, giving me his hand to shake. His hands were calloused and a little rough, his handshake firm and real. I hadn’t grasped anything so concrete in so many years. “Well actually it’s Sean Michael Frederick Alexander Francis Cutler-Harington, but you don’t actually have to call me that. Not unless we get married.”

“Cute,” I’d said and the conversation went on, on and on and on until I gave him my number and the butterflies started.

I could hear Sean’s phone call ending. His voice had gotten lower, lazier and the final goodbyes were in progress. The phone clicked in its cradle and I remained standing, spoon stuck in what was left of the strawberry yogurt as he as he walked into the kitchen.

I was standing there and then I was with Kyle at a bar Uptown, I was watching our wedding from the sidelines as if I weren’t even there. I saw my father building my bunk bed when I was six years old and it was all there. Not just a memory, as if I were watching it happen. And I had loved Kyle. That was the strange thing. I hadn’t married him, I hadn’t stayed with him for so long because I hadn’t. The love had been there, it had been real, something you could touch, and then it wasn’t. It had been certain, a part of me and then it was gone like those pounds you shed on a power diet or the hair you cut when it’s time for a new look. It had been there and then it hadn’t.

Sean stood in the doorway, his hand on the white painted trim. He was wearing a dark blue sweater that made his eyes sparkle. “That was Kevin, he wants me to work late on Monday, but you have a thing then anyway, so you don’t care, right?”

“No, go ahead, work late on Monday,” I replied, taking the spoon out of the yogurt and placing it absentmindedly in the sink.

“Great. So do you want to order in or eat out tonight?” Sean asked and the question was so mundane, so everyday, that it stung a little. I watched him for a second, all those names, that life that he had lived before me, just like the life I had before him. I ran a hand through my hair and sighed.

“Do you think this is going to last?” I asked him and he smiled. He walked over to me and draped both arms around me from the back.

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “But I like you now.”

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