Chapter 12, april
Many say that money is the root of all evil. I have a different opinion. I strongly believe that the root of all evil lies in the expectations that we set for ourselves.
It is not my belief that anyone gets married with the intention of anything other than forever, for always, no matter what. I also do not believe that anyone is equipped with some magical crystal ball that can predict what the future holds. People change. Paths are taken, and sometimes those paths do not lead down the same road. My path has led me down a very bumpy road – a road filled with potholes and craters large enough to swallow a T-Rex in one gulp. It is not to say that I wanted all the chaos that life handed me, but choices were made, and consequences were handed out. I have taken the hand I have been dealt and always tried to make the most of it.
Roy and I were in the middle of our separation. I would like to say that things were going smoothly, but that would not be true. No matter how prepared, mature, and level headed we were, there were still emotions involved that caused both of us to lose our patience at times. He could not understand why I wanted a divorce, and I could not comprehend what he was not understanding. He and I had discussed it several times before, the only problem was that he was listening to me, not hearing me.
Amongst all of the chaos, I was trying to live as normal of a life as I possibly could. Fighting back the tears had become more than I could handle. Simple things such as getting out of bed took as much energy as pushing a boulder up a mountain. I am the type of person that wears a smile like it is my greatest accessory. Even that was becoming a chore – especially since that smile was no longer genuine, it was an act in a B-rate movie at best.
I was broken, only playing the part of a well put together woman. The only thing that seemed to dull the pain was my growing friendship with the man next door.
However, the friendship between John and I started to become a problem for everyone. Everyone except the two of us. People cannot accept what they do not understand. How can a male and female be JUST friends? That was a simple question for me, with an even simpler answer. It was easy – our friendship was organic. It was not forced or fake, and we were nothing more or less than the very best of friends.
It was football Sunday, and the Redskins were playing the Eagles, GO EAGLES! I had a couple of friends over to watch the game – one of them being John. He received a phone call and excused himself from the room. I could tell by the look on his face that whatever he was hearing on the other end was not good news. I noticed he had been outside for a while, so I went out to check on him. He was sitting there with a blank stare on his face. He began to tell me that there had been an incident with Loren, and she was coming back to North Carolina.
At first, my reaction was a very positive one. For months I had watched my friend miss his children. I knew this was something he truly wanted. What I was unsure of was how it would affect our friendship.
I think I was naïve to believe that nothing would change; we both were. By this time, he had discussed with me briefly why he felt his marriage to Loren was ending.
That being said, I was no stranger to his past and some of the unpleasant events that transpired during their relationship. I felt that our friendship had grown, and I wanted to know where I fit into this new chapter. John assured me that things would be fine. Loren was coming back, but in no way was their marriage being repaired. They were still getting a divorce. I did not celebrate in that fact, but if I am being selfishly honest – I felt a slight bit of relief. I did not want to lose my best friend, and I was willing to fight for that friendship – no matter what it cost me.
I helped John get the house ready for Loren’s arrival. We set up her room, cleaned every inch of the house until it shined, and even purchased her favorite wine. The morning after her arrival, we took the kids to have some fun while she settled in. I asked John if Loren wanted to join us, but he said she had arrived late and probably just wanted to rest. I noticed a slight change in John’s behavior. He seemed on edge and irritable – not himself at all. I asked several times if everything was ok, and he assured me that all was fine.
For the next couple weeks, I tried to keep my distance from John and his family.
I would see him in the mornings at the bus stop or get a text here and there, but that was the extent of our interaction. I realized that I missed my friend. One evening, I curled up on the couch with a glass of wine in hand and an 80’s movie playing on the television. It was beginning to storm, and I knew the soothing sound of the rain hitting the roof would put me right to sleep. The doorbell rang, and much to my surprise it was John. He could tell I was shocked to see him, and I even asked what made him decide to visit. He simply said, “I missed my friend.” My intuitive nature getting the best of me – I asked how things were going with Loren. John explained that they were not going well. He thought there was a chance they could coexist for the sake of the children, but quickly realized that could not happen. He said things had gone back to the way they were before she left and he no longer wanted to be in the house; they were constantly arguing, and neither of them wanted that kind of environment for their children. We spent a couple of hours catching up on life, then he went home.
The next morning, I had another knock at the door. Still in my nightgown, I hesitantly answered the door.
Standing in front of me was John’s wife, Loren. She asked if she could speak with me.
Once inside, she quickly cut to the chase. She asked me if there was anything going on between John and me. I was honest and told her that we were only friends. She asked if I thought our relationship was at all inappropriate being that I was married. I explained that our friendship was completely appropriate, in my mind. By this time, Roy and I were already separated, however that was still a secret he and I were keeping from everyone else. She asked blatantly if John and I were intimate with one another. I assured her that we were not. I could not understand why she was asking me these questions, so I asked for clarification. I also told her that if there was any chance that the two of them could reconcile their marriage and his friendship with me was causing problems, that I would absolutely step aside. She assured me that the two of them were getting a divorce. In fact, their divorce would be finalized in a couple of months. She explained that if John and I wanted to date that she was on board. I was honest and explained to her that he and I had not talked about dating at all and that our relationship was purely platonic.
I did not speak with Loren for the next couple of weeks. That is, until I marched next door with an anger I could feel deep in my soul.
I received a call on my way home from work. My daughter told me that John’s wife had left a gift on the front porch for me. I thought it rather strange, but maybe she was just being neighborly. When I walked onto the porch, I noticed a watering can, a water hose nozzle, and a small envelope with a card inside. The G-rated version of that card read something like: water your own side and stay away from my family. I snatched the items up with Hulk-like strength and threw them as deep in the trash can as they would go. I text John and told him he had less than two seconds to get outside and explain what was going on, or I was marching right over to give his ‘wife’ a piece of my mind. He asked me to calm down. Everyone knows those are not proper words to say to an angry woman. His two seconds were up, I stormed out of my house. I noticed John walking towards me, his angry wife in tow. I immediately asked, “What were you thinking?” I was so angry and I could not understand two things. One, why did she think I was having an affair with John? Two, why did she care, if their marriage was truly over? Insults were thrown at me left and right, and I did my best to remain as calm as possible. I was more upset with John, my friend, because I felt like he should be trying to diffuse the situation – yet he stood there in utter shock. The conversation went absolutely nowhere and ended with Loren and I agreeing to have absolutely no contact with one another.
That is exactly what we did. We did everything humanly possible to avoid each other at all costs…until I heard the BANG.