Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Part Four: Vacations that Matter

John’s parents divorced when he was about 12, I think. My parents divorced when I was 11. Since neither of us really had role models for marriage, we transferred that need onto friends of ours, Lew and Ferne. They were 10 years older than John (when I met them, at 20 yrs old, they were twice my age) and had been married for a gazillion years. Actually, 12 I think, at the time.

John had a think for Ferne, but since she was married, he never said anything to anyone (well, except for me. We used to joke about moving her up to NorCal so she could be “our wife”). The last weekend of January in 2000, we took a road-trip to Lew and Ferne’s house on the Central Coast. We hadn’t seen them in a number of months. It was time to check in, and we needed Ferne’s help. John and I had been together for 12 years by this point and had spent the previous three years in the fertility clinic, but to no avail. Well, that’s not entirely true—I didn’t have much problem getting pregnant, I just couldn’t manage to stay pregnant. Ferne is a witch—we wanted her magic.

Upon our arrival, we were shocked and disheartened to learn that they were talking about splitting up. Twenty-five years in and they decided that was enough. I was devastated, as was John; our role model couple couldn’t make it—what did that mean for us?!

In the car on the way home, I don’t know how to say this… I don’t want to minimize it, but I also don’t want to make it a huge deal, like it was a secret. Remember, regardless of the many months of counseling, he and I still had an “open” relationship. Ok, so John told me on the way home that he and Ferne had stayed up all night together talking (yeah, so, I knew that) and, uh, other stuff. Hmm, what kind of other stuff, John?

For the first time in our relationship, he was embarrassed to admit to me that he had slept with another woman. That should have been a clue. I didn’t get it.

We got home on Sunday night. The following Friday, we flew out to Vermont to spend a long weekend with Eric and Kat. Ok, well, actually we flew into New Hampshire and then drove up to Vermont. Kat didn’t come to the airport to pick us up, only Eric did. I got off the plane before John and had to stop dead in my tracks when I saw him. My heart jumped into my throat and I couldn’t breathe; adrenalin rushed through my body and the blood rushed in my ears so that I couldn’t hear anything around me. It took me a few seconds too long to compose myself. John noticed, I could see he noticed, but he didn’t say anything.

Eric didn’t notice. He was unnaturally quiet. Far too subdued. Rather than rush home, since Kat said she had to work anyway, we took a leisurely trip which included a stop for dinner.

I have to back up and fill you in on the incredible dysfunction of their relationship now. They had been together for a couple of years by this time, and married for the last part of it (I married them in our backyard—the legal stuff—and then was their maid of honor and John their best man at the wedding ceremony). They never had sex. Ever. But she got pregnant a few months before they moved to Vt. I think one of the reasons they moved after she miscarried was so she wouldn’t have to see the baby’s father again. I don’t know how to put into words just how crazy Kat is. Too many incidences to relate, but each when told on its own not wholly crazy. When they all come together, when you see the big picture, it’s easy to see she was (is?) a COMPLETE NUT JOB! No exaggeration there. Seriously wacko. But for some reason, he loved her. No one ever knows what goes on behind closed doors, even those of us closest.

So when we stopped for dinner, I asked all about everything. How did he like his job, how did he like the weather (boy was born & raised in San Jose, CA; never lived in snow before), were he and Kat finally more “married” (read: were they having sex with each other yet)? He said he didn’t mind the job and didn’t mind the weather, but no, they weren’t having sex yet. At least not with each other. But he was pretty sure Kat was doing her boss. Aie yi yi. They were, of course, aware of the "Bad Habits" I spoke of in an earlier post; I tried in so many positive ways to influence her—I wanted John and I to be for Eric and Kat the type of marriage/relationship model Lew and Ferne had been for us. It appeared that I had failed miserably.

Despite the apparent tension between Eric and Kat, our weekend was lovely. We went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory, bummed around downtown Burlington one afternoon, and played in antique shops in Swanton for part of a day. Throughout the weekend, Kat kept trying to get time alone with me, but I wasn’t there for her and wasn’t willing to give up one precious minute of time with Eric. So when the boys went off together to pick up something from the store, Kat was giddy with excitement, wanting to tell me all about this guy Kent from her office.

“Woah. I don’t want to hear about this. We’re not in Junior High; this isn’t a guy you get to have a crush on and pass notes to in the hallway. You’re married! Stop telling me this!”

She kept talking.

Ultimately it came down to me saying, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT her confidante—anything she told me would go right back to her husband if he asked. I wouldn’t volunteer, but I also wouldn’t lie or omit for her. I don’t think she believed me.

When I was helping clean the kitchen after dinner and found some of my things in her cupboards (“Hmm, so that’s where that went!), I was a little confused. When I was changing the CD later that evening and found a number of my CDs in her stereo cabinet, her craziness was confirmed. She takes whatever she wants, damned whomever it belongs to, and assumes the world owes her more than that.

Monday morning, a huge storm rolled in. It was a three hour drive to the airport, but since we were uncertain of the weather, we left a full six hours before our flight was due out. Kat stayed home. The weather cleared as we drove, so we ended up having a lot of time in New Hampshire. We bought Eric a pack of smokes and took him out to lunch (see, Kat had given him exactly enough change for the toll roads and a soda, as well as 5 cigarettes, but he had nothing else. Controlling bitch). When John headed into the bathroom, we finally started talking. Quick talking—we didn’t have much time. “Ask me anything yes or no and I’ll tell you the truth.”

“Is she sleeping with Kent?”


“Is she going to leave me?”

“I think so, but not if you leave first.”

“Is she pregnant again?”

“No, but she’s trying” (!!!)

We got home late Monday. Eric called me Tuesday night. Kat was suddenly asked, without warning, if she could house-sit/cat-sit for a co-worker for a week, starting Wednesday, but it had to be just her, not her husband. What did I think? What did I think?! Is that even a real question? I think she’s lying to you!

He called again on Thursday. “Kat’s house-sitting. She won’t give me the number though. She called last night and said she’d call me again today. After she hung up, I dialed *69. [In Vermont, *69 doesn’t redial the number, it tells you the number instead, so he made a note of it on Wednesday night]. I called the number this morning after I knew she was at work and I got Kent’s answering machine.”

I bought him a one-way plane ticket to San Francisco for the next morning. On Friday, February 11, 2000, Eric moved back to Sonoma County.