When I got married, I thought I would be a one woman man. And I was. Mostly.
The thing is, I could not turn off my attraction to other women. They were all around me. Beautiful, young, intelligent, kind. They just weren’t married to me.
Over time, I had also found it easier to talk to women than to men. They often seemed to respond to this shtick. I call it a shtick, but really it was just me being me. I was full of empathy and a capacity to listen.
Feeling empathy though, is a dangerous kind of skill to have. You can enter into the other person’s way of thinking. You can feel what they feel. If you’re not careful, you can become them.
This was especially the case when I was feeling low. At such times, I could easily be brought to strongly feel what the person next to me was feeling. If I happened to be alone with a female friend and she felt lonely or sad, my insides would attune to that sentiment and I could feel myself vibrating to the same sensation that she was experiencing
Coming to my twenty-seventh birthday, I was feeling blue. I was in the middle of my two year course and had been married for more than four years already. My wife had stuck by me through some very difficult emotional problems both for herself and for me. On one level, our bond could not have been stronger.
On the other hand, I felt like an underachiever. I had switched from course to course, from city to city and she had followed me. Now, it was I who was feeling unworthy. I wanted to tell her I had to leave to let her find someone stronger, more sure of themselves. I would never truly deserve her love.
She had a Masters degree and was working as an administrative/research assistant for relatively low pay just so we had something to live on while finished this course. I was bringing her down, holding her back.
So on the day of my twenty-seventh birth day, I returned home to our basement apartment, thinking how much better off my wife would have been if she had pursued her own career path. I was thinking I would have to talk to her about a possible separation.
I opened the door and everyone yelled “Surprise!”
My wife had arranged a surprise party, with all our old college friends.
To my shock, they were all there. We had an amazing time, many laughs. Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, played in turn in the background. The wine flowed. The food was plentiful and I got to talk to all of them, even the one who had become a Scientologist and was now being whisked away to California.
In many ways, though, I knew this was the last time we would all be together. It was a perfect time to end it all.
I talked with one friend who had broken off her engagement with another in our circle. She had just returned from Mexico. I felt drawn to her longing for love, her need for something. I felt her anger and disappointment with her former fiance.
Later, I talked with him and realized how bitter I could be that she had not stood by him through his breakdown. I could feel the resentment welling up in me.
And so the evening went. Towards the end of it, I was talking to another friend who had just broken up with her boyfriend of the last few years. We had all assumed they would be a couple but it was not meant to be. The rumours circulated that it was her mother who had found him not financially successful enough.
I felt her pain. She was tall and beautiful, with long flowing sandy hair. I found myself thinking that this was unjust that someone so beautiful and so talented should be alone. I put my hand on hers in sympathy. She moved her hand from her lap to my thigh and, looked into my eyes with her piercing glance. The sharpness in her glance, softened and melted into tears that ran slowly down her cheek.
I could feel that pain and reached over and kissed her cheek where the tear was lingering. “You’ll be all right,” I whispered amid the hubub of the party.
She grabbed my hand and said, “I really shouldn’t bring you down. This is my own problem. I’ll get over it.”
I squeezed her hand in return. It was towards the end of the evening and my wife had just said goodbye to someone else at the door.
My wife came back in and got busy talking to others. My friend looked at me and said, “I really have to go. Why don’t you walk me to the car. It’s right outside, parked right in front.”
We got up still holding hands, which was no big deal. My wife and I held hands with many of our friends as a sign of our bond with them.
“I’m just walking her to her car,” I shouted to my wife across the room and we went out on a hot muggy night. She was wearing a thin summer dress and I could see the shape of her body as we walked together up the stairs. I let her go in front of me on the landing so I could see the outline perfectly.
We approached her car and stood talking for another minute, when we both realized it was time for her to go. As was her habit with me, she embraced me fully and started to kiss me on the lips. She had done this every time we met.
There was something different this time. Instead of that firm pucker kiss of friendship, her lips were soft and giving and I pressed my mouth down on her hers more strongly. I could feel her pressing back and I moved my hands around her and gently stroked her back.
I looked at her and could see that her eyes were closed. I reclosed my own and murmured, “I wish I could comfort you more…”
“I would like to talk to you more,” she said, “you are such a good friend. You seem to understand…” Then she added, “I love the way you hug.”
I started to get an erection and was about to ask if I could phone her, if I could come over, if I could see her again, when I heard my wife’s voice behind me.
“You don’t think you’re going to get away without saying good bye to me, do you?”
We both clenched and unrelaxed, left the embrace hanging in the air. We all laughed, two of us out of nervous energy. My wife was used to seeing us kiss both hello and goodbye and so had not reacted to that aspect of the situation.
She went over and kissed my wife goodbye, got into the car and drove off.
I felt completely energized, and not a little bit pent up. My wife and I went back into the apartment to say good bye to the last stragglers.
We were alone, cleaning up after the party. I wanted to thank her for all her work, to tell her how much I appreciated her outstanding intelligence, beauty and thoughtfulness. She had to leave me for her own good.
I reached for her hand and brought her into my arms. She kissed me both tenderly and passionately and then pulling slightly away, smiled up at me and said, ” I have another suprise for you.”
My heart leapt up in my throat. Had she realized I was untrue in my heart? Had she guessed that I was going to tell her I was leaving?
She looked down and her cheeks turned slightly red. I lifted up her chin and she said, “I’m pregnant.”
We have had four children together since then, including the baby she was pregnant with at the time. We have built and lived a life together.
The moment when I tell her I am leaving still lies in the future. Perhaps it will come on my death bed.