Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Part Five: The Games We Play

I forgot to tell John that I sent Eric a ticket home. He found out as I was on my way out the door to pick him up at the airport. Jessica, our roommate, was so excited about Eric coming home that she came with me to SFO (this is a big deal—she hates driving long distances and avoids the freeway at almost any cost).

When Eric came home, he was in a state, as you can well imagine. Twenty-two years old and getting a divorce. It’s hard enough to break up with your first real girlfriend, but to have it be coupled with such legalities makes it even worse. He didn’t tell Kat he was leaving; he left a note on the kitchen counter with the spare car keep and told her he’d call her later with the parking space number at the airport. He brought with him what he could fit into a suitcase and a duffel bag. But the essence of Eric, who he is at his core, was untouched. Sad, but essentially the same. Our friendship continued as it always had, but now that he was free of Kat and living IN MY HOUSE, there was a new something. Something un-definable, but not unsettling. A comfort level that we’d never shared before. Aside from my “bad habits” at the office, for the first time in my marriage, I really opted to take advantage of the Open Marriage.

If I were to analyze it from the outside, I would have to say there were a number of factors leading to this decision, but the most critical one was that I thought no one other than my husband could ever find me attractive. The fact that he always wanted to leave our marriage open left me with the conclusion that even he didn’t find me attractive, but I’d do in a pinch if he couldn’t find anyone else around. Have I mentioned already that our sex life pretty much sucked by this point? It was about procreation; nothing more. So Eric, this incredibly sexy (young) man wanted me! Wow! There was no way in this universe I could have refused him. No way.

Within three weeks of his return home, he and I were sleeping together. Rather, we were not sleeping, but we were “not-sleeping” together. And OH . MY . GOD! For a young man whose only real relationship had been four years with no sex, he was unbelievable! I think I’ll savor the details myself and not share them all with you. Some things in this world just have to be private.

The third week of March, on a Friday, John and I had our final appointment with the fertility specialists in San Francisco. They informed us that we were, essentially, not going to be able to have kids. I would have about a 3% chance of carrying a child to term. Three percent.

Eric and our good friend Kimberly met me in the Doctor’s office waiting room—John drove home alone while the three of us headed south for the weekend, down to my sister Kate’s house for her son’s 5th birthday party. We had just received the most devastating news of our relationship, and went home alone. His choice.

About a week later, March 23rd (I think it was a Saturday), while Eric and I were in San Jose for the weekend for his older brother’s birthday, his mom and dad took us to the mall (the good one—Valley Faire)—he was ready to get a job and needed some new clothes. I started my period. I’ll never forget it. It was Eric’s brother’s birthday and ended up being an important date for so long afterward. I was cursing the heavens that I still had to go through this bullshit every month when CLEARLY I wasn’t going to get any benefit from it! That evening at his folks house, Eric gave me a back rub.

About a week after that, Ferne called John (I was at work), “Can you come down to the Central Coast tomorrow? I’m getting a U-Haul and need help packing. I don’t know where I’m going, but it’s time to leave.” John’s response, “Come stay with us, we have plenty of space.” John went to get her; Eric and I cleaned out the garage to house her “stuff”. Ferne moved in with us in early April. She was here less than TWO hours before they were in the sack together. So Eric and I used the magic she had made for me and John 2-1/2 months before.

As an aside, I have to tell you about the games we played during this time. Eric was working at some stupid job as a temp, but he had email, so we’d write to each other many times a day. The subject line was always, “I love you more than” and the text of the message would be something silly like, “post-it notes”, or “chocolate milk”. Then we would sign it with the name a famous person—the idea initially was just romantic, but it soon turned into a game of wit (as games with Eric frequently do; have I mentioned how incredibly smart he is? Wise, not so much, but definitely smart!). It began with a note such as this:

I love you more than…
Highlighter pens

To which the response would be something along these lines:

I love you more than…
The number “7” on my telephone pad

We would use any name-set we could think of. I mean ANY: “Tom & Sandy” (his parents), “Richard & Pat” (Nixon), “Pebbles & BamBam”, “Bill & Hillary”, and so on. Some of these, when you only see the male or female name without the other, can be pretty obscure. He never failed. :)

He also used to send me some beautiful emails. I still have most of them. I read them when I have blue days and feel like no one will ever love me romantically again. There’s one I’m willing to share:

I come home from work and peel off my clothes. I have a cigarette and read a month old magazine while trying to relax. Snuffing out the cigarette, I go in my bedroom and lay down on the bed, my mind wandering over the various stresses of the work day. I stand up off the bed and realize that something is different. I feel comfortable where I am, and it is familiar, but oddly different, like I am in a mirror imagine of a reality I experience every day. So comforting, yet oddly incorrect.
I walk towards the doorway and realize that on the other side of the threshold is another bedroom. I can see a figure lying on the bed in the darkness. As I step forward, the figure stirs slightly, turning around to try to make out who I am in the doorway. I light a match slowly and as the sulfur sparks and ignites in a flash of light, you can make me out, recognizing your long lost lover, yet still not seeing my face too well. You watch the match as it glides over to a candle on the dresser, lighting the wick slowly, meticulously, then the match glides into the darkness, seemingly floating around the room, lighting candle after candle on various pieces of furniture until the room is lit enough to make out our entire bodies.
I snuff out the match with a quick breath of air and walk slowly to the bed, extending my right hand to you. You grasp it tightly, feeling my flesh for the first time in eons. You rise to me and place your hand around the back of my neck. My left hand slides around your back, carressing your waist, and puilling you to me slightly. You reach up, exttending your neck and I bend my head slightly down. Our lips lock. Instantly a flush of colors and sounds rush over both of us and we are running through fields, floating through space, stepping out of the car on a blistery winter day and feeling that cold shock of air hit our lungs like a shot. We are tansformed into mists, into pure energy as our bodies frantacly, desperately wrap around each others, trying desperately to become one in a way that we feel we once were.
We hunger to share each others bodies again. We have a need, like that for water or air to join our souls together. We shed our bodies quickly, knowing that they will impede us. However even out here. Even in the void we can not join. We are still seperate entities, and we weep softly for that.....
I awake with a start. Sitting up in my bedroom I glance at the clock. I have been asleep for a half an hour. I look around for you, and realize that you are not there. You never where here in my bed. In my reality. And I weep alone.....

April 24th, 2000 was Easter Sunday. John, his sons, and I went to his father’s house (also on the Central Coast). That morning, before anyone else was awake, we... how do I put this? I’m sure he thought we made love. I felt more like I was performing a “marital duty.” In any event, it was the first time since Vermont and the last time ever. On our divorce paperwork, April 24 is listed as the date of separation.

The next day, or shortly thereafter, my mom had her hip replaced. Eric was still at the stupid temp job a couple miles away from my office, and I was about ::this:: close to being fired—my boss hated me—so we did what any reasonable people would do: We took off for 2 weeks. We drove to New Mexico to take care of my mom. Two weeks in Albuquerque together alone. Well, mostly alone. On the second Sunday, my mom and I were sitting in her bed reading the Sunday paper together when she accidentally elbowed my left breast. SEARING pain! Oh my god that hurt! My mother, ever the practical Nurse Practitioner, laughed and said, “Oh fer cryin’ out loud, go get a pregnancy test!” Wha???

So Eric and I, while out doing other errands, stopped by a drug store and picked up an EPT kit. I cried in the store, “What if I am? That means you’re the dad. What are we going to do? Oh my god, this is terrifying!” He consoled me; he said John should be the father, regardless of biology, and he’d be the favorite uncle. He also said, much to my dismay, that the probability of this pregnancy coming to term was only 3%. He remembers everything.

Monday morning, I took the test. I was so scared, I made him go look at the results. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a mixture of awe, pride, and terror at one time. It was positive.