For months now, everything has just felt upside down. My head just keeps going around and around on a million things and nothing at the same time. I know it was wrong, and I don’t know why I did it. Why I do it. I hate to admit it even to myself, but it wasn’t the first time I cheated on Lou. I wasn’t trying to start an affair and didn’t plan to leave. I had a close friendship bond but wanted so much more. Allowing myself to fall in love and have a romantic relationship was out of the question because I could never actually leave my marriage, but a little sex between friends was a taste of what it could have been. I built a bulkhead to keep myself from the danger of getting too close.
But Alan decided the benefits part of our friendship was wrong. I should have known what was coming when instead of sitting in our usual spot on the couch by the windows in the commuter lounge, he wanted to go to a table in the cafeteria to talk. He said Lou had passed him on the road, driving in the opposite direction; Alan couldn’t miss our distinctive powder blue VW with the hand-painted boat on the hood. Lou wore dark aviator sunglasses and drove with a stern intensity I know well. Alan said that one look at Lou made him realize that he wasn’t someone to piss off. He explained that he was feeling guilty about it all anyway, and seeing Lou just made the right decision clear. I said all the rational things out loud: that it was ok, that I understood, and that of course he was right. But inside, I was steaming. I was the one who had everything at risk, and yet he just decided that was that, game over, all there is to it, with no discussion. This was not a breakup; we were just friends who sometimes got together for more, we were just cutting out the more. He was cutting out the more. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is a really, really big freaking deal, and I honestly don’t know why.
I tried to get together one last time, so we could have a nice ending to that part of our relationship. He said yes, but at the last minute called to cancel. I was furious, and since then, my emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride of delusional, irrational, depressed, confused, and angry thinking. Enough time has passed that I am calmer now; my creativity is up, and I’ve been venting by writing poems. And I’ve been passively aggressively throwing my pain in his face by submitting the poems to the school paper for publication. Maya Angelou, I am not, but I too, know why the caged bird sings.
As upset as I have been, I still care, and do what I can to show it. Alan loves music, so I got him a Sony Walkman for Christmas so he can listen anytime. When I gave it to him, he just added the bag to the big pile of gifts he had just received from parents of the kids that he cares for in the psychology department’s daycare center. I watched for quite a long time through the observation window while waiting for Alan to finish his shift. He was genuinely smiling, upbeat, and playful.
He quit smoking, and I pretended to quit as well. I had a cigarette in my hand when he caught up with me to thank me for the Walkman, and I just let it drop to the floor, and casually stepped it out, using my father’s magical skills of misdirection. It wasn’t my first lie. He had once asked if I had cheated on Lou before. My non-answer reply was, “It’s not the kind of thing you can just go around doing.” The truth was not something I wanted to reveal, because surely if he knew, he would not have anything to do with me. Why would he? Why would anyone? Honesty, on topics such as that, is highly over-rated. I now usually hang with a different group of friends from the computer science program because I can’t manage to not say something weird, mean, or sarcastic to Alan whenever we meet. I don’t want to lose his friendship, so I keep my distance because I am so afraid of ruining everything. Lou was out of town when we saw the movie Against All Odds at the theater by my apartment, then had sex for the first time. The movie totally sucked, but the night was awesome. When the movie’s title song plays on the radio now, I don’t know whether to turn it up or turn it off. I still feel pretty much crazy most of the time, and have absolutely nobody to talk to about it, and just go through the motions of acting normal. Nothing is normal. Even the streetlights keep going out on me at night whenever I’m driving and thinking of him. Who in the world can I possibly tell about that? About anything? Nobody.
Ironically, if we had not reverted to a strictly platonic relationship, it would have been a lot easier to get together now. Lou got fed up with his job at Hazeltine, because there was a position that he really wanted but didn’t get and started looking elsewhere. I drove with him for an interview in Philadelphia to be a consultant at Price Waterhouse. The interview went well, and the manager wanted to meet me and take us out to dinner. We bought appropriate fancy restaurant attire for me since I was just wearing jeans. Just before we got on the highway to head back home from Philadelphia, the VW stopped running, because the gas pedal was no longer attached to anything. Lou took two coat hangers from his suit bag, hooked them together, and ran the makeshift line from the fuel connection under the hood up and in through the driver’s side window so we could operate the gas by hand using the coat hanger. It was a challenge to coordinate the hand movement with the clutch, but we each did it on the drive home. He got the job, fixed the VW gas line for me, bought a huge Oldsmobile for his commute into Philadelphia and to client sites, and moved most of our stuff to an apartment in Depford, New Jersey. I’m back to my vintage 15” black and white tv and I make the drive from Port Jefferson to South Jersey to visit every weekend until this semester is over. I have to take some more classes at Rutgers this summer to complete my degree. I would rather stay here, finish my classes, and graduate at Stony Brook. Actually, I would rather stay on Long Island period. I had a preliminary on-campus interview with Intel Corporation that went well and felt confident they would hire me if I followed up. But Price Waterhouse is a great opportunity for Lou, so we really didn’t give Intel a second thought. I imagine it will be easy for me to get a job in Philly as well. Assuming I can get my head back together.