Finding Out and Being Thrown Back in Time (1 of ?….)
It started as a normal Tuesday in June 2020 but would become a momentous day that marks time for me, we were about 3 months into covid and the kids had been home since spring break, the last few months were a blur of trying to keep my business afloat in a rapidly changing industry while staying barely on top of online school for a struggling 8 yr old and a too smart for his own good 6 yr old. I’d started my workday around 5 AM so that I could get to a stopping point early and take the kids to a friend’s backyard to swim. This seemingly normal thing was a huge deal since we hadn’t seen any friends in months. The kids had gotten up around 8:00 so I was buzzing around the kitchen getting breakfast for them while checking my email, slack, etc. I noticed a messenger notification which never happens so I quickly opened it. At first I thought it was spam, then spent a few moments staring at the name & picture wondering “who the fuck is this?”. Then it hit me. It was HER! After all these years, why the hell is she contacting me now? Seeing her name and face was a gut punch that knocked me right out of my suburban working mom life right back to the summer of 2000.
Back then we hadn’t had our first Gateway computer for long and had set up a generic joint email (before that had become so fucking cringey) when we purchased the computer that we’d only used sporadically. Randomly checking it one night I stumbled upon several emails from a female whose name I didn’t know that were obviously not meant for me. They were full of inane banter like “I can’t believe we’re doing this, you’re my boss, lol lol lol”. Of course I started snooping, like you do when you discover you’re being cheated on. The next week while he was supposedly at work on a Saturday morning I found a card and stuffed animal (GAG! I’ve never been a stuffed animal giver to adults and never will be) from the girl from the emails. Somehow with only her name and email address I managed to find out her phone number and where she lived. Considering the ease of information now I’m completely baffled at how I did this back then, it must’ve been a divine intervention, combined with superhuman strength. With the basic address, I went to her apartment building, I had it narrowed down to the building but not the unit. I stopped at the leasing office but they didn’t believe my story that I was looking for my friend who had just moved in so I went about my business parked in front of her building. His car was there. My heart was racing and I started shaking all over. I stayed in my car for a while honking like a crazy person hoping they’d come out. That didn’t happen, neighbors started coming outside and yelling at me, I knew the office and possibly even the police would be called. I had to stop honking, so I took the stuffed animal and card and ripped them up in multiple pieces but large enough that if one of them saw them they’d know what it was. I was careful to spread the pieces out where they’d be seen by anyone in any part of the building (since I didn’t’ have her unit number). I wrote “I know what you’re doing” in lipstick on his windshield and went home. When he came home a little later I confronted him and got a load of bullshit & tears that I was naive enough to believe. He loved me, he fucked up, he was ending it, bla, bla, bla. Emotionally I felt the need to work this out quickly because we were supposed to go to a baseball game with my coworkers that night and I didn’t want to have to cancel or make up an excuse, I wanted to show up and pretend all was well. For the next year I blindly believed that he’d ended it but she continued to occasionally call our home phone when she knew he wasn’t home knowing I’d answer but I brushed it off because I’d gotten such a strong immature needy vibe from her emails so it felt on par. She even told me at one point that maybe we could be friends someday. HA! This went on until late 2002 when she married and moved out of state. Over the years she’d randomly call him at work or show up there when she was back in town. Again, I didn’t think too much of it, she was out of state and married so no worries. Right?
It had been well over a decade since I’d even thought about her and here she was. When I got over the gut punch of seeing her name & face again, I began to read further and was stopped in my tracks. In that moment time stopped. I can picture exactly where I was standing and what was around me in my kitchen when I read her message. This was a bigger gut punch than I’d ever felt. All those emotions from summer 2000 came flooding back, bringing a tidal wave of new ones with them. It was like the feeling of finding out about an affair times 1000.
I’ve always been a master at keeping things to myself and keeping up the facade that all is well but this would be my best Oscar-worthy performance yet. I made it through the morning finishing up work, taking care of kids, & practicing acting normal, not at all like I’d just had a bomb dropped on me. I spent the afternoon chatting and sipping wine with good friends on a patio while our kids swam, all the while thinking “if they only knew, they’d never believe this, would they be horrified?”. None of our common friends even know there was ever an affair. I continued my performance until late Friday night. I was going to go longer because it was fathers day weekend and I didn’t want to “ruin” it but decided to just get it out there. Then, in the quiet stillness of night in our bed, I took a deep breath and started with “Can I ask you something?” “yes” “Do you have a daughter?”