Please bear with me as I attempt to get through this post. Telling (writing) this story has been especially hard for me. Part of me wants to put the words down onto paper and the other part wants to run as far away as possible and try to forget. The beating in the kitchen took me almost a month to write. What I am about to tell you is one of the major pivotal points of my book and I’ve been working my way around it for a very long time…sidling up to it – sidling away. It is still at least two large chapters away - however, perhaps just this little stab at it will make it easier in the long run.
And then I (Ani) leapt from the frying pan into the fire.
When I first returned to work after putting my husband in the psychiatric hospital, I tried to remain aloof and walled off from the people I worked with (some I viewed as friends) and with the customers as well. I wore scarves around my neck in those days and they hid the bruises nicely. However, like all people who are suffering almost unbearable anguish – I turned to another for solace. What I did in fact was turn to the bartender who filled my orders Monday to Friday without fail. He was also going through a divorce and no matter how much we denied it, we were attracted to each other. Maybe we gave off the scent of a wounded animal – who knows. Whatever it was – it drew us to each other.
In the beginning it was exciting and felt like we were having an affair. We would get together during the small hours of the morning, showing up unexpectedly at the other’s house, sliding through the front door under the cover of the night’s shadows. We came together like animals too, frantic for another’s touch, panting, clasping, seeking out each other’s heartbeat as the clock ticked off our precious seconds together. During the day we bantered back and forth with the teasing smiles, the innuendos. We wanted and needed someone to love us for us - to help us ease ourselves away from our pain and inner torment. In our stolen moments we forgot all that and forgot ourselves.
It wasn’t until my husband was moved to the psychiatric hospital in London and I was told of his application for a divorce that we began to ‘date’. It was a comfortable slide from our nighttime forays into revealing our interest during the daylight hours. Our ‘dating’ became the topic everyone gossiped about, but we didn’t care. What I cared about was closing the door on my failed marriage and locking it firmly behind me. I never knew what he cared about.
He came from a very affluent family in the media business. He wasn’t in the least bit interested in the family business, however he was extremely interested in the family money. However, his opinion was the money would eventually filter its way down to him through death and taxes. Not through working for it. So he had devoted his entire life to doing what he needed to do to get by. In other words - in biding his time. He had wandered from one inconsequential job to another – or neither. Except for his siblings, everyone he was related to had done well for themselves. But for some reason I could never figure out, he and his siblings did not believe in work.
His father had divorced and remarried a woman who was only four years older than my bartender. The bartender never forgave him for that. It never stopped him from taking the cottage and car and gifts of money that his father bestowed on him. He had been given a house as well but his older brother had died in it when it burned down and of course he never forgave his father for that either. I never knew anything about the bartender’s first wife except that she existed. I knew his second wife better as she was a stripper who made the circuit through the bar we worked in. That stopped when she filed for a divorce and ended up in jail for trafficking heroine. It never stopped him from running down to the jail every time she crooked her little finger at him when she needed something. It sounds dirty and muddied as I write it – but we were both going through a divorce, and except for having to look at a picture of her legs every time I entered his front door, the ex’s only popped up once in a while.
His family thought I was wonderful. I was hardworking, a nondrinker, and didn’t do drugs. They asked me regularly what I saw in him. They wondered if I was digging for gold in a roundabout way. They didn’t understand the attraction at all, but they thought I might straighten him out and get him on the right path. And, you know, at first I was smitten and so incredibly relieved to be away from the nut-job I had married.
Of course, once the rose-colored glasses were removed…….