Incommunicado, Chapter Five

It’s a childish game these obstinate spouses like to play. They pretend not to hear you. They pretend not to feel your presence. They pretend not to acknowledge your existence. They pretend that they can just simply walk away, cut you out of their lives, and then “move on” to some sort of otherwise unattainable happiness.

On a normal day, I’ll call my wife about three times. I don’t really have anything significant to say, and certainly nothing that would be logistica. This is just normal communication that would happen in a healthy relationship, in which both partners remain in regular contact with each other, just because they like to be connected. So what happens when one spouse tries to disconnect?

Well, the abandoned spouse is left out in the cold. This can be hard, and many such abandoned spouses rightly feel neglected and cut off. They feel hurt and become angry or maybe depressed. They may begin to doubt their whole relationship with their spouses and wonder if they truly want them back.

That’s not me. I’ve been working on reconciling my marriage for 7 months now, and a big part of my reconciliation plan has been reaching out to my wife via these short, frivolous phone calls. I’d say 95% of them have gone straight to voice mail. This means that, for the better part of four months, my wife has tried to ignore just about every single phone call I’ve made to her. I’m sure she thinks that, if she ignores me for long enough, I’ll just stop. But that’s not going to happen.

Okay, now there might be some new visitors to this blog would would question this tactic, and maybe even consider it to be a form of stalking. To that I would ask, “how is behaving like a normal married person in any way similar to stalking?” Conventional wisdom, of course, would have it that we just accept the cold shoulder and suffer that fate, or better yet, walk away entirely. But conventional wisdom has also produced a lot of divorces. Tons of them. Moreover, there are some professionals who speak of a “relationship 180” that involves cutting off contact to the obstinate spouse. I can’t see that helping things too much, but I guess the idea is that the obstinate spouse will suddenly feel neglected and will rethink their choices. That might work with some obstinate spouses, but the ones who really think they want out probably could care less if you’re doing that kind of 180.

So here’s why I reach out to my spouse: because she’s my wife. That’s right, because she’s my wife. I don’t need a better reason than that. I don’t really care what sort of foolish agenda she has, or what sort of behaviors she is trying futilely to legitimize. None of that is my concern. All of that is temporary. What is more enduring are the marriage vows I made to her 7 years ago, and the level of commitment they required of me then as well as now. I just don’t think that a person of integrity has any room to simply give up on that just because things get hard.

My wife is a city girl at heart, but she has taken to shacking up with an adulterer in a tiny little podunk town out in the middle of nowhere, population ca. 2000. There’s not much to do for her out there, aside from play make-believe housewife and farmer. (There are chickens there, as well as a cowardly adulterer, hence my erstwhile name for that place of “Camp Chickenshit”.) When I call, or perhaps occasionally send a picture text or email, I often relate things that are going on in the city. I know she misses this city. She only gets to see it one or two days a week, and hardly sees it at all when she is in town.

So it was that tonight I decided on a lark to go out to one of our favorite spots, an artisnal gelateria run by some transplanted Italians. It’s pretty much the best gelato in town, and definitely the real deal. I took my wife there a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first time she’d been there in over eight months. (She just cannot go to places in town with the adulterer, for fear that people — or worse yet me — will see her with him.) Something urged me to go tonight, so I drove over there.

It was pretty busy. There was a line going out the door. I had been thinking about getting a pint of gelato to take home, but rather opted for a cone to go. They always seem to have some new flavor they’re trying out, and tonight it was avacado sorbet. I kid you not. Avacado sorbet. Now, I’ve had some crazy flavors in the past: cucumber mint sorbet, tomato basil sorbet, and red beet sorbet to name just a few, but never avacado sorbet. But it kind of makes sense: avacados have a high enough fat content to make a sorbet seem more like an actual gelato. And what better to pair that flavor with than the one right next to it in the display, banana sorbet. I swear to you, the combination worked. I took a picture of the display, with the label “avacado sorbet” in front of that flavor, and sent it to my wife. “See what you’re missing, sweetheart?” was the unwritten subtext, of course.

It is a childish game these obstinate spouses feel they need to play. They can pretend otherwise, but they really do hear you. They can pretend otherwise, but they really do feel your presence. They can pretend otherwise, but their willfull actso of ignoring by definition acknowledge your existence. They can pretend that simply walking away will lead them to some sort of happiness. But no matter where they go, there they are, and so are all of their problems they are trying to walk away from.

And here I am, just waiting for her wake-up call to arrive, bringing that empty fairy tale to an end. I think it’s coming soon folks, I really do.

Things keep trending…

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.

More cracks in the wall of ice

As I’ve written many, many times, my wife has tried to be incommunicado with me for at least 4 months now. This manifests mainly in her not answering her cell phone when I call. It could be sitting right next to her, or even in her own hands, but she simply won’t pick up. I guess she thinks that I’ll eventually give up.

Well, think again.

Yes, this is childish behavior. Very, very childish. But it is also, in a way, understandable behavior. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning it, just saying that I understand it. I mean, if I were foolhardy enough to go and have an extramarital affair, I don’t think I’d feel all that comfortable answering calls if I were at the adulterer’s house, you know what I mean? First of all, if the adulterer is around, she can’t exactly talk to me. I just cannot imagine him saying, “Oh, it’s your husband? Sure, go ahead and take that call.” Second, even if he’s not around, if she does answer, that leaves her open to the question, “So where are you right now?” Not that I’d ask it, but it could come up. Then she’d have to tell a lie, and that might actually push that total up in to the 5 digits. So she pretty much only answers the phone when she is in town, and when it’s logistical.

Nevertheless, there have been some fissures forming in that wall of ice she’s been putting between us. Last night, I sent her a goofy picture of our dog. It was a picture I actually took a couple of years ago: she’s lying under our bed on her back, and the only thing visible are a pair of stumpy, Corgi legs sticking out from under the bed. I got an email back with a smiley face on it. You know, one of those emoticon things — 🙂 . You might think this is insignificant, but she sent it to me around 11:00 p.m. The adulterer would probably be sound asleep by that time. She’s in his house, he is (ostensibly) there, and she emails me. Even if it’s just a snippet like that, this is how emotional affairs start, my friends. I’ve said it before, I’m the other man now.

This morning I had to run out to buy the dog some food. Cans of Trippet, as per usual. (Smells horrible, yes, but dogs love it, and it keeps them healthy.) On my way home, I get a text message signal — no, three of them: Ping! Ping! Ping! She sent me one long text in 3 chunks. She thanked me for my virtual support for her performance last night, which seems to have gone well. Then she went on to ask me if her paycheck had come, and had I deposited it. She was worried that she didn’t have enough in her account for a “purchase” she’d made. This of course raises the question why she made that purchase, but that’s another story. I had half a mind to go ahead and let her check bounce, but what good would that do? The last part of the text was her wishing me a good day. She also confirmed that she had signed on for another year with the choir. Now why would she tell me that? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but if she’s really serious about cutting me out of her life, what possible interest would that be to me?

I texted back (when I got home, not while I was driving… are you crazy?!?) that I would make the deposit on my way in to work today. She then texted back to ask me how much the check was for. Okay, so here’s where I tire of texts. I just called her back. I mean, the dang phone was in her hands, so she should just pick up, right?

No such luck. Straight to voice mail. Totally pathetic. Maybe, just maybe, she had had enough time to put the phone down, but it doesn’t take ages for a text message to wend its way from one cell phone to another. I’d reckon it’s just seconds in most cases. I left a quick message to tell her how much the check was, and said, “Call me.” She didn’t, but then again, I didn’t expect her to.

In sum, things continue to trend positively. These are baby steps in the right direction, but steps nonetheless. All I need now is for some sort of rude awakening to happen for her up there at Camp You-Know-What, and we’ll see those fissures open up and unleash a torrent that will bring her back to me.

I love my wife

I love my wife. Those are four words that I think many men facing the kind of crisis I am would have a hard time saying. I mean, she has spurned me, betrayed me, lied to me, abandoned me, you name it. But I still love her. Why is that?

Love is irrational. Love transcends ego. Love transcends attempts to put boundaries around it and attach ideas to it. Love just is. It isn’t ours to own, either. It’s way too primordial for that. So I admit it might sound strange to think that today, with my wife 237 days from the start of her affair — that’s nearly 8 months — that I still love her.

It just makes the pointlessness of her life trajectory right now that much harder to bear. She sent me a text yesterday, asking me to put some money in her checking account. $180, to be precise.  She was expecting a paycheck to come, and I guess she was going to use that money for something or other. I have a lot of bills to pay this time of month, and I simply cannot pay the bills and honor her request. I think she has probably written a rubber check, and it will just have to bounce.

Tonight she has a concert. I emailed her a couple of days ago to see if I was invited. I did not expect a response. She emailed this afternoon to ask me not to come, as it would make her feel uncomfortable. She said that there will be friends there who “know about our situation.” Well, if they know about our situation, that means two things: 1) she violated my privacy, and 2) there should be no discomfort. I mean, if she’s blabbed to these people — and she’s blabbed to anyone and anyone who would listen — then what’s the big deal, right?

Here’s the big deal: the adulterer is going to be there. I’m pretty certain of it. I expect that she plans to introduce him to various and sundry people. If I’m there, then the situation becomes very uncomfortable, right?

So, I’m not going. The music is definitely not my taste, and under normal circumstances I would only go if she asked me to go and to give her support. My support does not seem to be desired.

You know what else I did? I got out my I Ching and posed a couple of questions. Yes, I’m an amateur, but it’s uncanny the kinds of answers that I get. The questions were a) what happens if I go to the concert tonight, and b) what happens if I don’t go? For “a” the answer was “hindrance,” alternating to “retreat”. Hindrance is sort of what it sounds like; retreat, however, is actually seen as a positive: one bides one’s time and strengthens one’s reserves. So there would likely be discomfort, but a positive outcome eventually. For “b” the answer was “humbleness,” alternating to “brilliance injured”. This interpretation is far more auspicious: humbleness is a very auspicious quality, and the transformation indicates that one simply needs to bide one’s time and wait for the negative circumstances to pass. The inner meaning of this interpretation is “relief”: that relief from hardship is sure to follow.

This was enough to convince me to stay away. I do have alternatives, anyway: Green Tara practice is tonight. There will be far more benefit from me doing that than there will be in my sitting at that concert causing discomfort.

I love my wife. She might be nuts right now, but I still love her.

Hoping the tide is turning

A year ago tomorrow we had a beekeeper come to our house. Tonight, my wife is with a gardener who moonlights as an amateur bee keeper. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Last summer, we discovered a lot of bees in our laundry room, and noticed that they seemed to be entering via a crack in the external wall to our back yard. We called a professional bee removal expert, and were careful not to call an exterminator or someone who would harm the bees in any way. With the epidemic of bee colony collapses, we figured we did not want to contribute to that problem, and I personally could not condone poisoning a colony of bees who were pollinating the flowers in our yard, and who were just seeking refuge inside our north-facing wall. That’s exactly what they were doing. They had built a nest, complete with honeycombs, inside the insulation in the wall itself.

The bee removal guy showed up, and he was quite a character. He was an older man, I’d say in his late 50s or early 60s, who had bought the bee removal business from another person who was retiring. He had a lifelong interest in insects, with a particular fascination for bees. He was a fount of information about bees, and knew how to remove them the most humane way possible. He found the hive, and showed it to us — you can see it in the featured picture for this post — and put it inside a small bucket for safe keeping. It was incredibly fragrant, redolent of the flowers the bees had been pollinating. He was also very gentle with the bees, and, once he had closed up the hole through which the bees were entering, he used his “bee vac” to capture the stragglers that were coming home for the night. It was sad, in a way, because not all of them made it, and he said that, if he could, he’d stay all night and catch them all, but that simply wasn’t feasible. His bee vac, by the way, was simply a hand-held vacuum fitted with a small plastic carboy that was tipped with a hose. He’d catch the bees with the hose, and they’d gently be sucked into the carboy and not harmed at all. It was quite impressive to watch him at work.

As I mentioned above, tonight my wife is in the house of an amateur beekeeper. The adulterer, in addition to being a professional landscape gardener, keeps bees and chickens. How do I know this? Well, he broadcasts it all on his professional Facebook page. I’m sure my wife thinks this is all swell and stuff, and that he’s such a wonderful and compassionate guy. Well, you know, except for all that adultery stuff. So why am I mentioning all this?

Well, I’ve been beginning to see hopeful signs that the tide is beginning to change, and to shift back to my direction. I’ve said this numerous times before, but my wife is a city girl, and I just cannot see her taking to rural life in a dinky little town very well. We did that for a few years and she was so happy to get back to the city. Now she’s living in a town that is a fifth the size of the one we lived in a few years ago. On top of all that, she is probably thinking that she can replace her income and professional activities that she has here, in a major conurbation of over 2 million people, by starting anew in a town with barely 2000 inhabitants. That’s not very likely.

The hopeful signs I had today are many. First, she texted me to ask me to deposit some money into her account. I don’t know why, but she needed a specific sum. She was expecting a paycheck to come in, and it hadn’t by the time that she was in town this past week. She does have a couple of other accounts at a different bank, and I simply wonder why she doesn’t use those — unless her funds are running dry there as well. That paycheck did show up yesterday, so I’ll simply deposit it, and that will be that. Second, her text ran rather long, and at the end she told me that she was going to eat the second piece of banana bread that I gave her the other day. This is significant. I’m pretty sure she texted me while the adulterer was away, and I cannot imagine that she’d eat that in his presence; if she does, she’d almost certainly have to lie about its provenance. Anything that turns her mind to me at this point is very, very welcome.

I also learned something today that inspires great hope in me. My wife has been accompanying a choir in town for about a year now; she’s had many such gigs over the past, and this is by far the most professional and gratifying one she’s worked with. They pay well, the quality of the musicians is high, and they repertoire is not very demanding. It’s kind of a win-win-win situation. Well, except that, when they asked her back for another season a couple of weeks ago, she declined. I guess she felt that life at Camp You-Know-Where would be better. Suddenly there has been a reversal, and she has accepted another season with them. This is very significant. To me, it means that she’s keeping her options open, and recognizing that there isn’t much of a future up there in Podunksville. She at least has some income secured from this fall. That’s a good thing, because she’ll be nearly broke when she does finally come home.

If that’s not enough, I learned that she spoke to her family for the first time in two months. She called them. We have used Google Voice to make these calls in the past, and that’s how I could see she had called them. I don’t know what was discussed or whom she talked with, but I suspect that she fessed up and told them that she had moved in with the adulterer. I wonder what they think of all this. I can’t imagine that they find it very comforting.

On top of all this, there are the many things I have heard about the adulterer over the past seven months, things she has gotten the chance to see  up close and personal for a couple of months now. He has two failed marriages under his belt. He has a history of adulterous relationships. He is unable to sustain healthy relationships. He is insecure and defensive. He is overly direct and somewhat crass in his speech. He cannot anticipate my wife’s needs or read her mind. And he has a lot of female friends. This latter has the potential to sink the boat outright. My wife will be exposed to these women, she will be suspicious of their motives, and she will get jealous. It’s not too unlikely that she’ll discover evidence of him flirting with them, if not outright philandering.

My sense is now that we are in the final stretch of the process, the one in which the affair finally implodes and reconciliation soon follows. There are so many pressures that are conspiring to take this adulterous relationship out that I simply do not see how it can go on for much longer. Thus I remain hopeful, and continue to be guardedly optimistic for a sea change in the near future.

Positive trends

I saw my wife yesterday, on the one day per week that I get to have that visitation. The way it works these days is as follows: She comes into town on Wednesdays, spends the night somewhere (not at home, of course), and then goes back to Camp You-Kn0w-What on Thursday afternoon. The reason for her trips into town is twofold: she has a rehearsal on Wednesday nights, and it’s one of her few sources of income. She then has a couple of private students to teach on Thursday. On occasion, she’ll also have another student on Wednesday. That is the extent of her earning potential. It’s not much, maybe a couple hundred per week, that’s it. When she comes into town, we swap custody of the dog: I get a week, then she gets a week. Actually, I get 8 days, and she gets 6: she’ll take the dog on Thursday and bring her back the following Wednesday, which means that I have the dog from Wednesday to the following Thursday. So I actually get the better end of that deal.

This week was a tiny bit different. She came into town on Wednesday morning as per usual, but I was busy all day. I tried to arrange an evening pick up of the dog, but that didn’t work out, so I picked her up yesterday (Thursday) morning. She called me, and I asked her out for coffee. She accepted. Hmmmm.

I drove over to pick her up, and this time she was at a different house: she was with the colleague with whom I’d thought she’d moved in back in April, an older Japanese lady. She told me at that time she was staying in her basement, so I had assumed she moved in there. In reality, she had moved in with the adulterer. She stayed there just one day, and then went to staying with this other acquaintance for the past month. Maybe the old adage about guests being like fish (they start to smell after a couple of days) is true after all.

The first thing she suggested we do was to drop the dog off at home. So we dropped by the house to leave the dog there. Then we set off to look for coffee. Now, we live in what arguably is a coffee Mecca, so it shouldn’t be so hard. But we drove and drove and drove. Finally we ended up in a neighborhood she hadn’t been to in about 8 months. My wife never learned how to drive, and since she has taken to living 40 miles out of town, she can’t exactly get there. It’s a neighborhood we both like a lot, and I get to go there pretty much whenever I want. But then, I can drive, and I never committed adultery nor moved out. I’m not that crazy, you know.

Once we arrived, she suggested we get a bite to eat, so we stopped by a Caribbean restaurant we like quite a lot, but which we’ve visited all to seldom. We shared a sandwich they make there, one that was rated by Esquire magazine to be one of the best sandwiches in the country. It was quite messy, and actually we had a lot of fun eating together. We then went up the street to check out a new shop, thinking they might serve coffee there. No luck, but my wife did get to check it out. She loves checking out new places, and I’ve got a pretty long mental list of places to take her that she’s never been. I’ve discovered a lot of new finds in the past 7 months or so. There was also a coffee shop across the street, but it was packed, so we hopped in the car to set off to find another place.

En route she told me she wanted to buy some sweets for her host of the previous night, and I suggested we check out a new chocolate shop that was on the way. She loved the place (of course — I know her taste!) and bought a bunch of goodies there. We also got to try a “Ka-pow” coffee bar, which the shop owner sells. My wife loves trying new things like this. I’d bet she has had very few such opportunities over the past few months.

After that, we set off to another neighborhood for coffee. There was yet another new shop that had opened, so I took her there. We had a nice time, and I shared with her the I Ching book I had bought. I offered to do a reading for her, to show her how it works; she accepted, but would not tell me her question. I suspected that she was holding a question about the viability of her affair; I held a question about our reconciliation prospects in mind, since I couldn’t exactly provide a meaningful reading without knowing what her question was. The reading ended up being fairly positive. She offered to do one for me, and I wrote my question down; it was just an open question about my prospects for the week. The reading was very auspicious.

Afterwards, she brought up a post she saw on Facebook from either an ice cream or gelato shop about a new flavor they had. She couldn’t remember which shop it was, but our favorite gelato shop was just a few blocks away, so we headed over there. I know for a fact that she hadn’t been there since August of last year. Again, her life “path” has led her away from things like that — things she really likes a lot. We shared a gelato, yogurt and macadamia nut flavors, double scoop. She remarked on how well the flavors matched. (Of course they do! I know what’s going to work, and have seldom gone wrong when we’ve gone there in the past.) Now, picture this: my wife and me, sitting at the counter by the window, looking out at the street, sharing gelato from the same cup. What do you think the adulterer would have said if he’d seen that? You have to imagine that I’m sitting right next to her, inches away, my body turned toward her and totally open, and engaging her as thoroughly as possible: talking, listening, joking around, touching, etc. We had a good time.

Then it was time to go. I had to get to work, and needed to drop her off at the shopping center that has become her customary place to kill time before she teaches students on Thursdays. I took the long route there, driving along the waterfront and through the university. As we entered campus, I told her that I had brought for her some banana bread that I’d baked. It was gluten-free, made with almond flour, and I described the ingredients to her. She told me that she wasn’t much in to eating sweets, and that she rather preferred potato chips. I bursted out laughing when she said this. First of all, I had given her some potato chips as a gift the previous week, and secondly because I know her better that this: she has a major sweet tooth.

We pulled into the shopping center and I gave her the little bag with the banana bread. I’d packed it in a stainless steel bento box, along with a bottle of herbal liver support tonic and a small box with a rubber stamp in it. The box was actually from a chocolate shop, but I repurposed it for this; the rubber stamp had the image of a rather antique-looking rabbit on it. I knew she’d love that. I wrapped the bento box up in a napkin. She took it out of the bag and shook the box, and could hear the bottle rattling around, and remarked that it sounded like something could break. I told her that it was the liver tonic, so she should be careful. She got out of the car and we parted ways; she looked back at my car as I drove off.

Today I was at work and she sent me an email thanking me for the latest gift. She said it was the “best banana bread ever”, loved the rubber stamp, and would be trying the liver tonic just then. Here’s the thing: she emailed me at about 3:30 p.m. Why is this significant? Well, the adulterer is out working on gardens in the city, and probably does not get home until 5:30 or 6:00, I’d think. I don’t really know anything for sure, but this sort of tells me that she hid the bento box from him until today, when she was able to open it when he wasn’t around. I’m pretty certain she wouldn’t share any of this with him, and I’m all but certain that she has hidden other things from me in the recent past. The more her mind turns to me, the better.

So, things do seem to be trending positively. I am optimistic and remain guardedly hopeful at this point. I’m still waiting for the affair to end, and I think that end is going to be in sight pretty soon.