July 6, 1999, 6:23 a.m. Darling: When I was with you I forgot how it felt to make love to my husband. I forgot about his dry passion and his hollow smile. When I was with you, I forgot about the morning he moved out of the house, his face expressionless, his suitcase packed, how he leaned against the door, tears in his eyes, how cold I felt. I forgot that the night before, I dreamt that he was moving out, and how filled with panic I was in the morning when I realized it wasn't a dream. It was real. He wasn't going to bring me a cup of coffee and brush his hands through my tangled hair anymore. I forgot about our last dinner together. We talked about who would get the books, the dog, the cats. It was easier to talk inventory than heartbreak. I forgot how I felt when I came home from work that night, how I sat on the couch, how the light from the street lamps cast a golden glow into the darkened room. I forgot that I stayed up till dawn watching the sky mutate from complete darkness to indigo to bright light. I forgot all this because your middle finger dazzled my cunt and brought a smile to my face. I enjoyed the new language I spoke with you. I could re-create myself with you. I could be bright, funny, sexy. Someone new. Someone different, improved. My body was a foreign country that you could explore and conquer and pleasure. Your body was also a foreign country, totally delicious, dark and mysterious.
And afterward, the hallucination of you washing yourself off in my bathroom sink. I took a picture of that image. It set my world askew as surely as an earthquake would because it wasn't my husband. But I enjoyed feeling so unbalanced, so surreal. When I was with you, I forgot about the sterile sheets of my bed, because we fucked on the living room floor. My back abraded and stinging -- I enjoyed even that. The rug burn, the heartburn. But no, wait, there was no heartburn. When I was with you I forgot about that. When I was with you I completely relinquished my past. It was almost frightening to me -- how easily I could shed the skin of married woman. When I was with you, when we made love, I forgot about how my husband knocked at my door at 2 in the morning, begging to come back home. I forgot that I did not go to the door, that I did not go to him. I forgot how relieved I felt when I heard him leave, how easily I fell back asleep, how my dreams that night were untroubled and that my coffee tasted good the next morning. The taste of your cock in my mouth made me forget all this. Your strange mouth, your strange lips, your strange legs and hot kisses pouring from my mouth to your mouth made me forget all this. I want to remember our clothes falling, falling like rain down around our feet, and how you held me so tight I felt my spine stretch. I want to remember the taste of your teeth, the asymmetry of your face.
I don't want to remember watching my husband, one week ago, Saturday night, scurry down the street, all dressed up with certainly someplace to go. I don't want to remember that a friend of a friend said he was dating someone with long red hair and an infectious laugh. A beautiful someone. A smart someone. I don't want to remember that when I heard this, I lay facedown on my kitchen floor. I don't want to remember that I lay there for hours and hours. The phone rang and rang, the sky turned dark, it began to rain, and still I lay there. I don't want to remember this. I don't. I can't.
July 9, 1999, 7:15 p.m. I ride my bike down by the river after work and watch the white sun move over the blue glare of the river and think, This is it, this is it. This is the moment, the hour, the minute, the second that I begin my new life. I have to believe this. Last week I broke up with the man I was dating. Which is completely insane. How could I break up with someone when I am still married? He came over to my house after we had dinner. As I unlocked the front door, he stood behind me and in broad daylight put his hands down my pants. He said, "I know you like this." And I do, but not in full view of the world. We got into the apartment, and the second I closed the door he came crashing in on me. His mouth was everywhere -- suction cups like an octopus -- his broad foreign accent saying my name over and over. Soon we were sprawled on top of each other on the couch, his white jockey shorts thrown over the television set, my black brassiere pushed up around my neck. By then I was wet and practically shaking with desire. But suddenly he stopped and said, "I can't do this." I said, "Can't do what?" He grabbed his underwear from the television and patiently explained that his shrink said he had to stop having casual affairs. And I said, "Fine, stop having casual affairs after you finish fucking me." "I can't. I'm sorry," he said. He pulled up his jockey shorts with a snap, then his pants, buttoned up his shirt and walked out the door. I stood dumbfounded in the middle of my living room, my black brassiere still dangling around my neck, my panties still soaking wet, my hair askew and my lipstick smeared across my face.
Just when I had decided I wouldn't stick my head into the oven, just when I had decided that Dorothy Parker is right ("You might as well live"), a man seduces me like wildfire and then disappears into the night. Then the phone rings, and my husband says, "Just called to say hello." I hang up on him. I can't speak. It's too insane.
I ride my bike down by the river. I ride in the morning to catch the first light of dawn. I ride after work until I am too exhausted to ride anymore. Then I stop and watch the lights on the distant shore winking into view, the clouds turning, streaked with orange, then yellow and finally blue. I don't know what else to do. My home is not my sanctuary because it is filled with the detritus of a life I can no longer claim. Common sense would tell me to buy new sheets, paint the walls a different color, fill the empty drawers with my own belongings. But I can't. I still sleep on my side of the bed; his side remains chaste and unruffled. One Saturday night, I rented a sex film, came home, lowered the blinds, changed into my silk pajamas and settled in for the evening. I even brushed my hair and put on lipstick. Why not? I was taking myself out on a date. But even as I was doing this, I kept saying, "Who is this woman? It can't be me." I have never in my life rented a sex film. But I was lonely. My friends were busy with their lives, their dinner parties, their new hairdos, their boyfriends, lovers, husbands. So I turned on the movie, but I kept the sound off, terrified that my neighbors would hear the cheesy soundtrack and know exactly what was going on.
After five minutes, I didn't care that I couldn't recognize myself anymore, and I didn't care that it was Saturday night and I had just been dumped by my boyfriend and that my husband had a new girlfriend. I didn't care because as bad as that movie was, I was totally getting off on it. A man did a woman on a pool table, his mouth in her pussy, in full view of everyone in the bar. Everyone was wearing leather motorcycle jackets, and wielding pool cues and drinks. After it was over, after my orgasm, I couldn't stand to be inside my own skin. Nothing made sense anymore, least of all myself. I showered and put on more lipstick and practically ran out of the house, as if it were on fire. I stopped at the closest bar. I had one glass of wine, then another, then another. I started flirting with a cop, who was much younger than I. Cute ass and blue eyes. I gave him my phone number and told him to call me when his shift was over. I walked home pretty damn sure I was about the most sophisticated woman in the world, weathering the storm of her divorce with porn films and alcohol. When the phone rang at 6 in the morning, I didn't answer it. And even though I was hung over, I was ready to jump on my bicycle, head down to the river, try again.
July 11, 1999, 8:15 a.m. I met another man. He rolls me around on the floor like a piece of bread dough. He finger-fucks me and my body feels like it's plugged into an electric outlet. I feel sexy, alive, confident -- blooming like an orchid in the hot July night. My tits are cradled and caressed. My ass is grabbed like rare fruit. My lips are sucked, my hair is pulled and his cock sleeps inside my thighs like a warm animal fresh from the jungle. I want this. I need this, the medicine of sex, the pure genital thrill. Last night he left at 1 in the morning. He had to go home to his wife. After he left, I wandered the house flush, a hothouse vegetable, my face still glowing, my lips still vibrating. Struck by a meteor. I could not get the smell or the touch of him out of my mind. This kind of feeling is pure; it's purer than love. It's simple like hunger is simple. It's not complicated by emotions or history. When he says, "Gimme those titties," there is no subtext. It's a relief that we're not dating. He's married and I'm married. I don't have to pretend to be somebody I'm not. I don't have to get dressed up and meet him in a fancy restaurant, sip white wine and make interesting conversation. I don't know who I am anymore and I am tired of the pretense, the façade. I simply don't understand why I do the things I do. There is no "me" anymore. It's crazy and blasphemous to say this, but I don't care: If I am not a wife anymore, then I don't know what I am. And I don't care how many suffragettes roll over in their graves -- it's true.
Last night I made a terrible, terrible scene. My face literally burns with shame when I think of it. I knew my husband was at a party, at the home of a mutual friend. I knew he was there with his girlfriend, and after two glasses of wine, that made me crazy. I still love him. We're still married. So I called over there and said, "I want to speak to my husband," worrying my wedding ring, turning it and twisting it as I was speaking. There was an awkward pause, then I heard over the roar of the party a muffled "It's for you, it's your wife." A longer silence. I was enraged at this point, almost crazy, almost ready for the hospital and a round-the-clock morphine drip. When he finally said "Hello," I just about wept with relief at hearing his voice. I said, "I need to see you." He said, "I'll call you in the morning." I replied, "No, not in the morning, now. Right now. Come over." He said, "You're drunk," and then he hung up the phone. I called again. No answer. It rang and it rang and it rang. I knew what was going on. I knew what they were thinking: the crazy wife, neurotic and drunk. So I smartened up and didn't call again for half an hour. Let them think I had gone to bed, was sleeping it off. So when I called again, the host, our mutual friend, answered. I said to him quietly and calmly, "Would you give my husband a message? Would you tell him please that I hope his girlfriend sucks him off real good. I hope he shoots his load down her throat and makes her choke." Then I threw the phone at the wall. I guess he hung up then. I don't know. I have a lot of apologizing to do.
In the meantime, I met another man. He rolls me around on the floor like a piece of bread dough. He finger-fucks me and my body feels like it's plugged into an electric outlet. It's not complicated, but everything else is.
Part 4: What a ridiculous time to fall in love with my husband.