The Road Taken: The Married Widow

Some people can’t stand being alone. It makes them feel lonely. It makes them want to climb the walls, as if they are unable to do anything, without someone to do it with them. I am not like that. Early on, growing up in a household with seven others, I learned to be on my own. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but that’s the way it was. Alone, often with nothing more than the thoughts in my head, to keep me going.

There would be no Rhett Butler to ask me to dance.

Living with G was no different.  He was in school, day and night, and while I worked during the day, I had the nights and weekends to myself.  Whatever I wanted to do, I  pretty much could. Which is why I took a creative writing course that ended up leading me to Rick.

And now it was time to move on. I was used to that. The moving on thing. It’s what life is all about, after all. A series of beginnings and endings. Sometimes good, sometimes a relief, and sometimes, plain gut-wrenching. But there you have it and so it goes. And, being used to it,  I was good at closing one door and opening another. Not for a moment, did I wonder what would I do with myself next. I wasn’t about feeling sorry for myself or walking around all misty eyed, claiming, woe is me.  Any regrets, I burrowed so deep inside, they dissipated, like the faint scent of morning after a rainfall.

If you had met me at that moment, you would never have known that the most amazing man, one I had fallen so hard for, had just walked out of my life. As gingerly as he entered. A regular Gene Kelly, who danced his way into my life and left me with nothing but bittersweet dust on my fingertips, from having touched his hands so many times. One moment I was under his spell, and the next, I blinked, and watched him turn into a fleck of matter on the horizon. Never to re-emerge. Just another exit in a series of endings, leaving me with no exit strategies of my own, but the knowledge that I had to move on and I had to keep this little, bad boy—this small part of my life—a captive of my desperado heart.  And I would do so, stoically, stiff upper chin and all that, so that no one would know what had transpired.

Ordinarily, I am bad at keeping secrets. I am too forthcoming for my own good. But this one I held on to tightly, until it became a distant memory, removed from my being. I pushed it so far back into the crevasses of my mind, it was as if it had happened to someone else, not me. As if I had never wrapped my fingers around Rick’s, nor never pressed my lips against his neck. As if we had never laid upon the grass by the fountain, willing ourselves to fly away and feel the universe brush past our outstretched arms.

I didn’t even tell my good friend, Pam, who I had met at work. Though, I did hint at it once. I mentioned it in passing, almost as an afterthought. really. I had so wanted to tell her, and confide everything. Mostly, I wanted to say his name aloud again, as if by doing so, it could bring him back, and make what we had, real once more. But the need to conceal it was far stronger and gripped me like a vice.

Yet, somehow, I think, Pam knew. She suspected, and may have detected a nuance, something different about me during those weeks when he was in my life.  Perhaps, a distracted, faraway look. The way she sized me up–a glance and raised eyebrow—told me she was aware that something had happened. But the details were lost on her and being the friend she was, she didn’t press. No questions, no admonitions.  A mutual understanding that, whatever it was, could not be shared.

So, moving ahead, I accepted my plight. I was married, yet I felt as though I was a widow. A graduate school widow. I was like Scarlett O’Hara, when she herself becomes a widow. Scarlett wants to dance, as the unmarried girls do, but she’s reminded that she must remember her place. Just like I had to remember mine. Of course, she had Rhett Butler, who found a way to get her onto the dance floor. There would be no Rhett’s–or Rick’s–in my life, anymore.

But there was nothing to stop me from spending time with Pam, who had recently moved into the condo next door. Which is why, the first step to moving on involved climbing into the passenger seat of Pam’s two-seater. Her little red sports convertible. In a flash, we took off, and headed south. Destination:  Anywhere but here.

Missed a chapter? Read past installments, by visiting the page, The Road Taken.

33 thoughts on “The Road Taken: The Married Widow

  1. Road trip! Two of my favorite words. I’ve spent a lot of healing hours in a road trip with gal pals. The problems don’t go away, but it gives space for the mind to work better when I return to them.

    But as for this post, I loved to death the phrase “a captive of my desperado heart.” I just want to steal it from you and find a place in my own writing to use it.

  2. I had saved your post to read quietly, by myself, in my reading room and I am so glad I did. A lovely segue from Rick to your adventures with Pam. Everyone needs to have a friend who does not question, does not admonish and does not judge. I have one, although she lives miles away from me, we imagine, we will one day set off on another little adventure of our own. I am happy to say, we went to Spain 3 years ago.
    You write so beautifully. I can’t wait to hear what happens next. I know it is going to be brilliant.

    • Thank you so much! I love your comments, but I especially love knowing that you have your own reading room. Sounds magical! And to be able to go with your friend to Spain. Sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing your memory. I hope you get to see your friend very soon!

  3. Oh! I love reading memoirs, and I was really intrigued by your story. You left us with such a quiet cliffhanger at the end; I can’t wait to see where you go from here!

  4. I had to read this twice; come back to read again so I could say something besides “wow” because the words on this page are so well written. It is beautiful. You truly have a gift.

  5. Monica, I can so relate, sister. Reading your words, I realize that perhaps this alone time is the universe’s way of helping us transition for what lies ahead; sort of like a crash course in becoming an army of one. This writing piece serves to perfectly describe the array of emotions you must’ve been going through at the time: guilt, regret, loneliness, angst, and anger. I’m certain you must have asked yourself more than once, how could this happen to me? I know I did. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “When a door closes, a window opens,” and I’m glad Pam was there to help you keep your sanity and provide you with some good company. I say, if we have to head South, it’s best we do it in a red convertible!

    • I’ve spent much of my life being fiercely independent, though I lost myself in my marriage. The only time I was could really be myself was when I wasn’t with him. In retrospect, I can only ask myself, why didn’t I have the gumption to leave. Why did I wait so long for him to give me the boot? I know, I know, there’s no point in such questions. What’s done is done and everything happens for a reason. I will tell you, when the marriage ended, I finally woke up.

  6. That last paragraph is a hit! Love the way you start this piece by focusing on your acceptance of being alone and then build up to the idea of leaving your marriage and blowing south. Great!

    • Thanks, hopefully it gave you a sense of how I felt in that moment. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for G to come home each night, and was more than thrilled when my friend moved in next door. Thanks for reading!

  7. Love the last line! I also like, “Any regrets, I burrowed so deep inside, they dissipated, like the faint scent of morning after a rainfall.” Beautiful writing and pacing. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • I’m so glad you like the writing. It really was challenging to figure out how to write this “bridge” piece and keep the interest going, so I really appreciate you reading it and offering your input. Thanks!

  8. Headed south my way, you mean? No better way to do that than in a convertible. Did you let the top down and laugh wickedly through the air and wind blowing against your face? Come on with the details and tell us what devilment you got into. 🙂

  9. Excellent, Monica! Much better than the path I suggested — it’s gripping and evocative, passionate and realistic. Love the way you moved from Rick to Pam and can’t wait to hear about your adventures in that sports car!

    • Thank you, Debbie. I couldn’t have written this without your support, input and guidance. It heartens me to know you’re there, and that you care so much about the unfolding of my story.

  10. Oh, I love your endings!! The promise of another exciting story to read…

    I understand this post more than you know, Monica. I love how you said you WANTED to share because it would make it more real. To say his name, to prove it really did happen. But some things just can not be shared….at the moment anyway. Maybe someday, like you have.

  11. I love how you close one door for us readers, but open another one that is equally anticipatory and exciting. Can’t wait to hear of your adventures with Pam – nice segueway from Rick!

  12. “Destination: Anywhere but here” with a friend with intense intuition! Perfect.
    I remember early in my married life a friend a friend called me wedded weekender because my husband travelled so much: you’re so lucky! you’re single during the week and can do what you please, then you have a boyfriend for the weekend!’ It was funny at the time (pre-kids); you were truly on your own…
    Will look forward reading more instalments of The Road Taken !!

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