It was more than my heart that broke that day. Everything broke.
After driving non-stop for two days with a fellow grad student and knowing that I had only a couple hours left to call home to talk to my long-term Boyfriend before I got on a boat and would be incommunicado for nearly a week. I was thrilled when he answered the phone on the second ring.
Me: (melting at the sound of his voice) Hi! How are you?
Boy: I'm all right. Where are you?
several minutes of inane conversation and then:
Me: Where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for two days!
Boy: Um… yeah… I decided to take the new car for a road trip
Me: Where'd you go?
Boy: (long pause) Kansas City
At this point, my heart started to pound painfully. It wasn't what he said, it was what he meant.
Me: Kansas City. You went to see Robin?
Boy: Um… Yeah.
I closed my eyes and rested my forehead against the side of the phone booth.
Boy: And… (was he crying?) God, I'm sorry!
Boy: Are you still there?
Boy: (desperately) Baby???
Me: I'm here
Several minutes of explanations, apologies, remorse
Me: I have to go (I never thought my own voice could be so cold)
Boy: We need to talk
Me: I have to go. The boat is loading.
Boy: I love you.
Boy: I love you. Do you still love me??? (he's crying freely now, but I am cold. Cold through every cell and sinew. Cold to the deepest depths of my soul)
Me: I love you too (oh, how I wish I could have lied and hung up then and there!)
Boy: Thank you! We'll fix this!
Me: I have to go.
Boy: Call me when you get there.
And if only that were the worst of it. I sat on that boat for nearly a week, trying to put on an unconcerned face for my colleagues, trying to feign interest in the remarkable seascape we were traversing. But something in me broke. And then, when I got to our destination, it broke some more.
I called the Boy, as promised, his roommate answered, the Boy wasn't home.
RM: Hey! How's your trip?
Me: It's OK. It's pretty here and there's a lot of work to do.
RM: How are you?
Me: Been better. I suppose you heard?
Me: Maybe we can work through this. He swears it will never happen again.
RM: Um… There's something you need to know.
RM: It wasn't the first time.
I'd thought there was nothing left to break. But to discover that it had happened before, that he'd hidden it from me… It was one thing to have him make a mistake and own up to it immediately, but he'd kept this secret from me for months.
And if only it had ended there.
I took him back. We got engaged. We started to plan a wedding.
But that thing in me was still broken. I'd slapped some duct tape on it, painted over it with sunshine and flowers, smiled so hard my jaw nearly cracked. But the trust was gone. My brazen, joyous confidence was gone.
I never brought up his transgression, never held it over his head, read book after book about infidelity and self fulfillment, took up yoga and studied my ass off in school and worked my ass off some more at work.
But we were never quite the same. I was never quite the same.
It took years of off and on and back and forth before things finally ended.
He's married now with a child on the way. I'm happy for him. We're friends. I'm friendly with his wife.
And I've grown. I'm happy. I don't blame all men for the mistakes made by this one Boy years ago. I believe that most people are good and honest and kind. (Naïve, sure, but I can't bring myself to expect the worst of people)
But every once in while, something comes up that reminds me of that horrible, half-alive time in my life and my heart breaks all over again. Not for me or even the Boy, but for the carefree, sweet girl I once was and the pain she went through.
Sorry for the downer post. Things got dredged up today and I needed some keyboard-therapy.
See you on the flipside.