Today is Thursday. It is the second of the two days that my wife spends in town. The other five are spent out in the boonies at Camp Never-Never-Land. (Yes, that’s a new name for the place.) She sometimes will call on Wednesdays. Yesterday she did not. She did text me fairly late in the day to say that she wanted to spend time with her dog this coming week, and to see if we could arrange a time for me to drop the dog off. Quite significantly, she was at the home of the older lady, the place where she stayed last week. I texted back with a simple message: “Call me.” She did not. I later followed up with a voice mail that said the same thing.
This morning, she did call. She had a late night last night and had been at a wrap-up party with the choir she performed with last weekend. This is legitimate, and could be easily verified. To my knowledge, the adulterer was neither in town nor in attendance at that party. As a result of this get-together, she had a rather late start to the day. I did too. I keep my Thursday mornings clear, because that seems to be when I get to see my wife these days. We chatted a bit, and I told her I could swing by to drop the dog off around 11:00 a.m., and then we could grab coffee or lunch or something. She didn’t balk at the idea at all.
I got myself ready, and realized I didn’t have much of a gift for her this week. I was at the grocery store the other day and passed by the handmade soaps, some of which they sell in bulk, and sliced off a bar of ume blossom soap for her. I also had a small package of preserved tomato in green tea (a Chinese concoction, rather interesting flavor, kind of like tomato-raisins) that I’d picked up at the local Buddhist center I go to. I wrapped up the soap with some nice wrapping paper and a ribbon, and put that in a bag along with the preserved tomatoes. I plopped that into a bag in which I’d put a can of food for the dog. A magazine had also come for her, so I put that in there as well, along with some other mail. Inside the magazine, I decided to put a photo that she’d left behind. It was one of her dog that I’d given her some months ago while she was still in the house. I took it out of the rather bulky frame, and placed it about 20 pages deep into the magazine. Yes, folks, this is a sneaky tactic. She’ll most likely discover this at the adulterer’s house, and there is a good likelihood that she’ll discover it in his presence. It’s even not unlikely that she could discover it while sitting on the couch or in some other close proximity to him. This stuff is hard to explain away, you know. This all went inside the dog carrier. I then put the dog in the car and set off to pick her up.
She looked tired, but that’s not unusual. These last 7-1/2 months have been hard on her. They’ve been hard on me as well, but I think they’ve been much harder on her. She has chosen the path of immorality, and that brings with it a price. We got in the car, she said hi to the dog, and we set off. I asked her if she were hungry, and she said she had not eaten yet today. I suggested we have Korean food. She agreed.
A quick word here about Korean food and its significance to us as a couple: we love it. We live in a part of the country with a large Korean population, and there is a large density of Korean restaurants just a few miles north of our house. We often would go out for Korean food because we’d both be busy until fairly late in the evening, and Korean restaurants would be among the few that would be open past 9:00 p.m. I gave her a couple of dining options, and she said she felt she needed some collagen in her diet, so I suggested we go to a seolleongtang place that we’d been to a few times.
If you’ve ever had Korean food, you’d know that it can be quite spicy, and it often is quite salty. Seolleongtang is an exception to this: it’s a broth made of ox tails (supposedly; those are pretty rare these days), brisket, and other cuts of beef. It is simmered for long periods of time, and the broth turns a sort of milky white. It is served with various cuts of meat and some noodles, and it comes completely unseasoned. You get a small pot of chili paste and a bowl of salt to flavor the soup to your liking. There is also the obligatory kimchi, and the place we go to makes only two kinds: napa cabbage and radish, and they’re both outstanding. We both ordered the same bowl of soup (there are only a few varieties on offer), plus an order of dumplings to share. This shop has a TV set going all the time with Korean TV shows, and my wife always liked to sit facing the TV (which would be above and behind my head) and watch the shows while we ate. I knew this would kind of violate the whole “date night” principle, i.e. that we are supposed to be the only entertainment for each other, but I figured that the TV shows would carry high nostalgic value to her, and so I didn’t let that bother me.
As we had our lunch, we caught up on the last week’s events. She told me that she had spoken to her father, and he had had some sort of food poisoning that resulted from using an outdoor smoker to smoke some seafood and other things. It wasn’t serious, but he did end up in the emergency room. Her brother was also very stressed out around this time, and ended up at the doctor’s office with something that sounded like shingles. Her grandfather, who is in his early 90s and in a nursing home, had a couple of close calls that took him to the hospital, but seemed to be convalescing well.
She then asked me if we could go to a nearby Korean grocery store so that she could pick up some staple ingredients. I gladly assented, although I did have some thoughts about whether I was implicitly okaying her living situation, which I don’t officially know about. We finished our lunch, and I picked up the tab. She has done this the past couple of times, and I don’t deny her the opportunity to do so, as I think it’s a significant gesture from her part. This time she offered to pay half, and I just told her that I’d gotten the bill. She looked at me and said, “Next time?” To that, I said, “Okay.” Interesting. Remember, this is a wayward spouse who has stated an agenda of separation and marital destruction. Why would she be suggesting another “date” in the future?
On the way to the grocery store, we stopped by a shop that sells nothing but root beer. I’d told her about this place, but she’d never been there. My wife loves root beer, and this place stocks something like 200 varieties of microbrewed, craft root beer. She was kind of overwhelmed, in a good way, and really enjoyed the experience. I bought us a couple of bottles and we headed to the grocery store. We shared one of the bottles en route.
The grocery stop was nothing special. It was as mundane an experience as you could ask for, and this is good. It’s nice to do ordinary things with my wife, because so much of our life previous to this crisis centered around such ordinary tasks. She picked up a few staple items, and then we headed back into town. She had some students to teach, and we still had to drop off the dog.
We got on the highway and it started to rain. It rained very hard, too. She was wearing the UGG boots I’d gotten her for her birthday, and these really aren’t appropriate for rainy weather, so she was a bit worried about having to walk to her client’s house in them. I offered her the big umbrella I had in the car, but she declined. She did ask if I could drop her off at a coffee shop that was a bit closer to her client’s house, and so, after dropping the dog off at the house she was staying at, I took her there. She thanked me and got out of the car, and that was pretty much it.
Overall, it was not such a bad encounter. I’d say that her energy was not as positive as it has been over the past couple of weeks, and if anything it had declined. I had the fairly strong sense that things aren’t going so well for her these days. She seemed tired, conflicted, and kind of stressed out. She also seemed a bit uncomfortable trying to relate to me in ways that she has been accustomed to doing for many years now. I could still break through a bit here and there, but it seems like she’s still sort of in the fog. But it’s weird, you know? It’s sort of like the fog is there because she’s trying to keep it there. That’s my sense of it, anyway. I could be wrong about this, of course. It just seemed to me as though it could be that the goggles have started to come off, and likely have been coming off for some time now, maybe a month or so. That would make sense: she’s been living with this adulterer for about two months now, and has had ample opportunity to see what he’s really like. She’s likely found that he’s not so perfect after all, and that he’s not much more than an immoral fraud. I’d imagine that this gradual process of realization can be quite shocking, and that it can also be accompanied by a heightened sense of denial, coupled with redoubled rationalization efforts to attempt to keep that fog in place.
Ultimately, I don’t know what’s happening up there, but I sense that the end actually could be nigh. She’s gotten just about everything she wants right now, and so there’s no excuse for her not to be ecstatically happy any more. I checked our bank account this morning, and saw that a check had cleared from her account that was made out to a piano mover. This means that she has gotten a piano and moved it into the adulterer’s place. (Great — that’s one more thing we’ll have to move out of there in the near future.) I’m sure that was part of her plan: start a teaching studio up there in that tiny podunk town of 2000 people. That won’t be likely to succeed. This is what adulterers do, though: they make all sorts of pie-in-the-sky plans for the future, they cohabitate, they play make-believe family, and so on.
But it never works out.