And then there it was: “I should have left her in the shitty little apartment I found her in back in Atlanta.” She felt like she had been slapped. Tears of anger exploded out of her eyes. How dare he? Who was this person she was living with and, more, who did he think he was?!
She had loved her apartment. It was all hers. It had a wooded view that she loved. She thought about the morning a cardinal had flown in her window, perched on her bedside table and woken her. She had given it up for this? She had trusted him. She had moved 800 miles away from her home and family for him. This was her husband saying this about her. Belittling her. Demeaning her. Disrespecting her. In her bed. To a stranger. He finished up by saying he was going to find the fastest way to get her back to Atlanta and he was done with her. Then he told the woman on the phone he loved her and the conversation devolved into fantasy.
Later, when she finally did confront him, she would eventually find his reaction funny and satisfying. He had taken his computer and cell phone to his company and had to explain that he thought they had been bugged. He also had to explain to his boss why he thought that. She wondered how that conversation had gone. He looked like an ass and then a fool when they found nothing. He could not understand how she had known the details of his plans. He could not extricate himself with lies when she knew such detail. He never figured it out and to this day he hated her for it. Even later she had learned that he had just about taken his truck apart looking for the tape recorder he was sure she had hidden in there. She took a bit of satisfaction in his paranoia, she had to admit.
She had never thought the baby monitor his mother had given them would be used in such a way. And in all the times they used it listening to their son, he never realized that they could be used on cheating husbands as well as sleeping babies.
And now she would leave. How she was going to do it was questionable. She was far away from home and family and friends who could help her, but she would figure it out. She was a stay-at-home mom with no job, no money, a teenager and a baby. It might be hard, but she had done hard before and she could do it again. It was just living through the unpleasantness that would be difficult.
Now, a year later, the sting was still there. She had left him, of course. She had her Atlanta apartment back and it was a really great apartment. Even better than the “shitty” one from before. He was jealous of the one she had now. It made his look pretty shitty, as a matter of fact. She was aware she took some pleasure in rubbing that in his face – subtly, of course, no need to be blatant about it – and she did not care. He deserved it.
It did get her thinking, though. How had she gotten to that place? She had loved that apartment, but she had been acting as if she was not living her life, just biding time until her life showed up. That was not the way to live. How had she gotten to that point?
Expectation vs. Reality. That was what it boiled down to. She had this idea in her mind that by her 40s her life would look a certain way – and she had felt her time was running out. She imagined she would be married to a man who adored her and was capable of taking care of her, even though she did not want or need him to, have a few kids, house, dog, the whole nine yards.
The life she was living on her own in Atlanta was a pit stop – a bump on the way to true happiness as a wife and mother, she’d thought. She wanted to run a home and dote on others. She really wanted this life she had always imagined. She made a good wife. She’d had a good example and she was an easy going person who did not get her feathers ruffled over much. She had spent her twenties and into her thirties thinking she would have that life one day. There was just no way she wouldn’t. And until then she would have fun and do what needed to be done to get by. It never occurred to her to live her present life. Not as if she was waiting for something better, but as if it really was good enough. Without expectation.
It wasn’t until she heard him say that one sentence to some strange woman that she realized she had been really happy in that shitty apartment. She was a little neurotic on occasion and she had been living by the seat of her pants, but she liked her life. It was not where she had expected to be and it was not what she had imagined, but it was good. And she had walked away from it all. She had trusted him and now she realized she had done it blindly based on what he said he wanted. She thought they had wanted the same thing. When she got it, things seemed to fall into place for her, but not for him. He could not handle having what he said he wanted. He sabotaged it.
She was back at the starting point. She had her old life back. Now would she remember the lesson? People say all the time that they would give anything to go back and start over again. Wasn’t that just where she was now?
She was going to be happy and satisfied with her life as it was right now. Even with all the uncertainties and problems cropping up around her. Even with the serious challenges she was facing. She supposed perspective was what mattered. She was no longer going to expect what her life would look like. She was just simply going to be and do and see where it took her. That was really what she had been doing all along. She had just never known it. Trying to change that had screwed everything up. Now that she realized it, she wondered if it would make a difference. She supposed she would find out.