Authors: Christine Zolendz,Angelisa Stone
Then, he tried to kiss me.
His head lowered, and he gently pressed his lips against mine. I couldn’t remember the last time we had kissed. But it was exactly at that moment I knew that staying with him was not an option. Kisses should never feel like obligations. Our marriage was over. I just needed to go. So I did. I pushed off of him and smiled. Then, I walked away.
And maybe it wasn’t one of my most brilliant decisions, leaving everything for three months, and being selfish. But we all know that the worst decisions make the best stories.
my decisions were about to go bad.
Twitter: Can someone WIPE the slate clean? #marriageprobs #TripleX
I did not have gallstones. Christine could say whatever the heck she wanted about her health, but I did not have gallstones. I had a “fatty” gallbladder years ago, and I had that nasty, fatty thing ripped the heck out. Apparently, gall bladder problems come with the third kid. Thanks a lot Bryce for ripping up my insides and screwing with my gall bladder, making it “fatty” and faulty. Who wants to walk around with a fatty anything, unless you rolled it and smoked it? And I have to say: I was not, repeat not, driving to Vegas with anyone.
Truthfully, my kids weren’t going to be at camp, although that is what I’d been telling everyone. I’d been lying out my giant caboose about my kids, my life, and my marriage. My kids were staying in Michigan this summer with their father. He left. Matt, my husband, packed up and took a 9-month “project” in the U.P. Oh the things that I wanted to call the U.P., but apparently the U.P. just meant the “Upper Peninsula.” We were, are, heck, I don’t know. PROBLEMS. Anyway, we’re taking a few months to decide what we’re going to do about our marriage. He wanted out. I knew he did. I got it. I was a nightmare to live with, a full-out, whining, complaining, horrifying wife and mother, who matched her Xanax intake with her M&Ms. My husband couldn’t get out of here fast enough--seemed like the kids wanted an out too when I told them about spending the summer with their dad in some dinky apartment in Michigan.
My plan was to “work on myself.” Meaning, I was going to read a ton of trashy, depth-lacking books, wear my hair in a ponytail, and maybe clean out a cupboard or closet. If I got really crazy, then I planned on working on next year’s curriculum since I’m getting a new class of sophomore hoodlums who won’t be able to spell their own names without looking down at the name on their McDonald’s nametag. I couldn’t possibly take a road trip. That was not on my agenda. I did not veer from the schedule, the norm, people’s expectations of me. I did what I was told, when I was told.
If Christine showed up at my house, then we’d go to dinner, get some froyo, and drown our sorrows in vats of cabernet. Then, she could get back in her car and drive her flabby butt right back to New York to start on her next book, because she and I did not belong in Vegas with tofu-eating, lemon-water sipping, and 5K running authors who ride male models for Tuesday fun. We belonged in our homes in our sweatpants and oversized bedazzled Lane Bryant clothes, writing about sexy, skinny, smart-mouthed bitches, who orgasmed on command while we dreamed of threesomes with Ben and Jerry.
“Mom? If I stick a sock in my butt will that mean I can fart out my mouth instead?” my 8-year-old son asked, bringing me out of my reverie.
“Of course not. Who told you that? That’s just stupid. If it comes out your mouth, it’s a bur… why are we even having this conversation?” I asked, feeling the stress of parenting creeping back up on me. How many days until they left for Michigan?
“That’s what Miles said.”
“I told you before that kid’s an idiot. So are his parents. Stop hanging out with him.” Yeah, I’m not getting the mother of the year award. Or teacher of the year. Or wife of the year.
“But what happens if you do stick socks up your butt?”
“Ya know what? Grab an old pair of your dad’s socks that are still in the drawer and give it a shot. Then, we’ll both know,” I sighed, closing and locking the bathroom door.
I held my phone in my hand, underwear around my ankles, sitting on the toilet, staring at my most recent outgoing calls: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Christine, Matt, my brother, take out, Matt, take out, take out, take out, Matt. Then, I slid my finger over and viewed the incoming calls, calls that I missed: the vet, Christine, my brother, the school’s all-call system, Christine, and my neighbor, Pete.
Apparently, Matt was serious about “needing space” and “time to think.” He answered his phone every single time I called his. Every. Single. Time. Matt was reliable and would do anything for our three boys—anything. However, he must’ve had one of those special one-way phones, because he had not called me once—not once—since he left three weeks earlier.
“Mom! Evan stuck my pencil up his nose and now there’s boogers and snot all over it. I was doing my hooooomework!” my oldest son, Kevin, yelled through the closed door.
“Kevin, can’t you just use a different pencil… or a pen?” I bellowed back, reaching for the toilet paper. “Or use a sanitizing wipe to clean it off. Can I ever pee in peace?”
Son-of-crotch! Seriously? Can anyone in this house ever change the empty toilet paper roll? Opening the cabinet, below the sink, I rummaged for a new roll. Mother-effer!
“Kevin, can you grab some toilet paper from the other bathroom?” I screamed, feeling the frustration building.
Welcome to parenthood! Well, let me correct myself, welcome to MOTHERHOOD. God knows fatherhood isn’t nearly as hard as motherhood. I bet Matt never found himself sitting on the pot without an ample amount of toilet paper. God Almighty, how did forty hit this fast? I swear to God, I was just doing body shots off of hot frat guys in college and dancing on barstools with my friends. The only dancing I did now was the bee-bop dance step I do when I’m trying to get my pants down fast enough, so I don’t pee before I sit down. The only shots I did lately were of nighttime cough syrup when I was out of Xanax. God, I used to have so much fun. I was the wild and crazy one who’d do anything for a laugh or a “good story.” Not so much now.
What was I doing now? Drip-drying enough to run upstairs to finish going to the damn bathroom. I think this is all some kind of sick joke. Sure, you know that when you get married that you’re giving half of yourself to someone else. Sure, you even realize that when you have kids, you’re basically giving all of yourself to whomever comes shooting out of your lady parts with loud wails, covered in “birthy goop.” What you don’t realize, never even think about, is that if you’re giving all of yourself to others, then there is nothing left for you.
Not one damn thing.
Walking to the master bathroom, I opened the cupboard and lost my ever-loving mind. Screaming and bitching to nobody in particular, I shucked off my clothes, threw them into the hamper, and grabbed a handful of dried up baby wipes. Sitting back down on the toilet, I grabbed my phone and dialed Matt.
He answered immediately. “Hey Babe, everything okay?”
“No! Everything is NOT okay,” I screeched into the phone. “But how would you even know that? You just upped and freaking left—like it’s not a big deal that your wife and three kids are left here to fend for themselves. Do you know how much crap I have to deal with and put up with… while… while you’re just having a ball in Michigan?”
“Ang, why’re you doing this?” he asked, in his tired, worn-out voice. “You told me to go. You insisted that I come up here… you’re… you’re the one who wanted this.”
“Oh… so now I wanted it?” I screamed, feeling my anger and tension exploding. “Did you or did you not tell me that you thought we needed some space—some time to think?”
“Ang, you always do this. That is not… not even close to what I said. You said that you needed a change. You weren’t happy. So, I told you about this opportunity, and you told me to go. I thought you and the boys would come with me!” he argued. Silence filled the phone line between us. I heard the heaviness in his breath. Sighing, he said, “When you completely stopped talking to me… stopped touching me… I said that maybe you were right and that we should think about things and give each other some space.”
“See! Exactly!” I cried, my voice shrilling. “You need time. You need space. What about what I need?”
“I thought that this is what you wanted?” he sighed. “Say the word… just say it, Angelisa, and I’m back home. I never wanted to be away from you like this.”
“No, I’m not forcing you to come back here,” I stated, angrily. “I don’t even know if I want you back here.”
But I did.
I really did.
But I thought the reasons that I wanted him back were the wrong reasons. I wanted him to take out the trash. I wanted him to take the boys to soccer, mow the lawn, and fix the air conditioner. I wanted him to clean out my car and fill the gas tank. But that was it. Lately, that’s what it had become—a partnership, a working marriage, a business agreement. I couldn’t even say that it was like we went from being passionate lovers to being friends. We weren’t even really friends anymore. We hardly even spoke or spent time together. Forget the lovers and sex part. Not even close.
“I don’t know what you want. I feel like I just can’t read you anymore,” he admitted.
“What do you want?”
“Nothing, I don’t want or need anything… wait… that’s not true. I need some fucking toilet paper,” I said, disconnecting the call and flushing the toilet.
Washing my hands, I stared at my reflection in the mirror. Nobody ever told me that once you hit middle age that you broke out in moles all over your face and neck. What in the world was that all about? God forbid the dermatologist have any open appointments between now and the turn of the next century. Looking at my face, I noticed a long, black hair protruding out of my chin. It was at least two or three inches in length. It was not there yesterday. Heck, it wasn’t there this morning when I brushed my teeth. Where in the world did that thing sprout from? I grabbed my tweezers and yanked it out immediately, noticing another one on my cheek—near my ear. God, give it a day or two, and people might mistake me for a freaking yeti.
Leaning in closer, I examined the lines on my forehead. I refused to call them anything other than “lines.” Lines could tell a story—my story. Lines could have a positive spin. There was no “positive” to the
word. Hell, it’s not like they had facial irons to get rid of my “lines.”
That was what I needed to do for sure. Create a facial iron! I’d make millions and get to retire from my thankless and penniless teaching job that students weren’t really benefiting from anyway. I’d be the face of the age-defying facial iron, the envy of everyone resembling a Shar-Pei.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?” Bryce, my youngest son, wondered, barging in the bathroom. He eyed me suspiciously as I scrutinized my face.
“Spaghetti and meatballs,” I answered, pulling my skin back, tightening the flesh on my forehead.
“Again? I haaaaate spaghetti. Can I just have peanut butter?” he asked, dropping his pants to the floor and peeing in the toilet behind me.
“Bryce! Watch what you’re doing. You’re getting pee all over the floor,” I groaned, grabbing a sanitizing wipe.
“I can’t help it. It just builds until it explodes,” he whined, shaking himself off and zipping his pants.
“Listen to me, you have got to control that. You start Kindergarten in August. You can’t just pee all over the bathroom floor… and you need to make sure you just pull your pants down a little, so everyone can’t see your butt,” I said, wiping the floor and toilet seat. Christ, can’t Matt be here to teach this kid how to pee? Why was it my job to teach a boy how to pee with proper public bathroom etiquette?
“Why? What’s wrong with my butt?” Bryce asked, bending over.
“Mom! Evan farted on my retainer again,” Kevin yelled, walking into the bathroom.