Things keep trending, part IV

Wednesdays are the days my wife arrives in town for her brief sojourn into the reality the rest of us inhabit 7 days per week. She only needs to be here for about two, then she packs back off to the fantasy land that is Camp What’s-It-There. I figured I’d get a running start on things, and as Wednesdays are normally days off for me, I had plenty of time on my hands.

I got up quite a bit earlier than usual, arising somewhere around 6:00 a.m. I thought I’d sleep in, but that just wasn’t in the cards. I figured I’d just get out of bed and take advantage of the morning. There is a new bakery that opened in town that is all the rage, and they have a very small capacity, meaning that they sell out very quickly when they’re open. I’ve been by twice: the first time their shelves were empty not 3 hours after opening, and the second time there was a line going around the corner before they opened. This morning they opened at 7:00 a.m. so I got there around 6:55 and found a rather short line. It seemed that my chances looked good. I got inside and ordered a few pastries. These really are pretty much the best croissants in town, I’d say. I got one for my wife, and took that as an opportunity to call her and leave a message. I said, “I’ve got something I need to give you today; call me.”

She called. She told me she was staying at the older colleagues house again, and that a piano tuner had come to service the piano there. She would be packing off to a nearby coffee shop, and so I packed the dog in the car and went to meet her there. I gave her a kiss as I arrived, and she asked me what I needed to give her. So I plopped the croissant down in front of her, and told her the story of the place. She immediately looked up the bakery on her computer. She’s a food nerd like me, and so she really goes for these things. She really liked the pain au chocolat that I had gotten her. She also thanked me for a bossa nova song I had sent her as a gift over iTunes. Then the conversation turned toward work and the new job I’ll be starting. I told her all about it, and how quickly things had happened. She seemed very happy to hear all of this news from me.

Then we started to discuss more practical things, like what we’d do for the next couple of hours. I guess I’ve reached the point with her where she is receptive and willing to spend time with me. And not just short periods of time, but stretches of several hours on end. This is real progress, considering where I was at just a few months ago. She told me she wanted to go to Chinatown to pick up some calligraphy supplies, and suggested we have lunch there. That’s where we headed. She got her supplies, and we looked for someplace to eat, deciding on a new noodle house that neither of us had tried. Good idea: it was very good. Then we moved on to get some coffee, heading to another part of town. I suggested we stop by a gelato shop first, to see if they had an avacado sorbet I’d tried a couple of weeks earlier. They did not, so we settled for a couple of other flavors, and parked ourselves on a park bench. While we were sitting there, my wife noticed her dog itching her ears a bit, and so she started looking more closely and found a flea — and tons of flea dirt. It was bad, really bad. She freaked out. She said, “this is really bad, honey.” That’s right: she called me “honey.” Wow, talk about a Freudian slip. This was huge, and a good sign at that.

The truth be told, the dog really needed a bath, and I hadn’t had time to give her one. But then again, the last time the dog had had a bath was when I’d given her one a couple of months ago. My wife has tons of time on her hands and hadn’t even lifted a finger to trim the dog’s toenails. She wanted to seem miffed with me over this, but I think the experience was very instructive: she is equally responsible, and knows that she hasn’t bathed the dog for many, many months. I was very careful not to be judgmental of her, since that wouldn’t help things, and her irritation blew over pretty fast.

We then went to a nearby café for coffee and sat outside, enjoying the weather. We had a really pleasant, relaxing time. She was at times a bit distant, and I imagine there’s a bifurcation in her mind: on the one side, there’s the story she’s been telling herself for the past 8 months, and on the other side, there’s the reality of me, her husband. I’m clearly gaining ground and rewriting her story. It’s just a question of time as to how much longer she’ll try to hold on to that story before it blows away in the wind.

After coffee, I drove her over to her student’s house so she could teach a lesson. She fell asleep in the car, and got a real-life wake-up call: the window was down, and she woke up to realize that a bumble bee had landed on her arm and was just resting there. She freaked out and blew it out the window. We both had a pretty good chuckle over that. I dropped her off at her student’s house, and she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” It’s her turn to keep the dog this next week, so I’m dropping her off on my way to work.

The significant things were as follows: First, she continues to warm up to me, little by little. These things are delicate, and I’m not pushing at all. I only get to see her once a week (or maybe twice this week) but each time it seems like I get a little more time than the week before. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, so that’s a big plus. Second, there was no relationship talk whatsoever, and no talk about logistics, financials, or anything like that. I think this is a very good sign. She is not pushing to separate her finances, get off the cell phone bill, keep the dog to herself, and so on. I sense that she’s hedging her bets, which is a good plan, since the affair is likely to end pretty soon, anyway. Third, she called me “honey.” I mean, come on, this is huge! An obstinate spouse isn’t supposed to do that, but — oops! — sometimes they do. Remember she is still in a “relationship” with this adulterer, and I’m certain he would not want her to spend any time with me at all. I’m also pretty certain that she does not tell him about any of our encounters, that would just be bad juju for the affair. But, hey, I’m her husband, so having legitimate contact with my own wife gives me no reason to be concerned as to what other people might think.

So there we are, 254 days into this crisis. The trajectory is clearly trending in the right direction. I’m certain that, if I had more regular access, the affair would drop away very quickly. Things work more slowly when there is a separation, but still things march inexorably toward reconciliation.

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