Once upon a time … Now, isn’t that the way all stories—or, at least those ending in happily ever after—naturally begin? I used to think so, but that was back when I was young, naïve, and believed in the notion of people actually living happily ever after. And, that was long before, well … my own marriage happened.
I’m reasonably certain that the beginning of my story is no different than most of my married, female counterparts. Feeling like a twenty-five-year-old princess, I showed up at the church on my wedding day in a white bridal gown mimicking the one I’d dreamt of wearing since I was just a little girl. There were friends, flowers, and magnificent, thundering church organs. Oh, and, of course, not to be forgotten … there was also a groom.
I was entirely prepared to present myself to the man of my dreams, knowing he’d already assured me: I was the woman of his. If I’m to be honest here, and, with all that’s happened, I’m really trying to be … I technically wasn’t pure enough to be wearing white, to begin with, but, to be fair, no one was aware of that fact more than my husband-to-be.
No, Nick and I had consummated our relationship long before I made my appearance at the back of that church, hooked on the arm of my father, fifteen years ago. We both more than understood—I wouldn’t be the nervous bride hiding out in the bathroom on our wedding night.
The truth was, back in those days, we simply couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We’d met in our last year of college at Rowan University. I was a Democrat, and Nick was a Republican (I didn’t hold that against him.). After a few dates, and not too long after we’d met, we were headed home on board a Greyhound bus from a political rally we’d attended together in Washington D.C.
After a long day of mutual flirtation, we’d ended up having sex in the bathroom at the back of the bus. Who would have believed Bush and Gore could ever have been that arousing? We realized we were kindred spirits. Well, I guess at that time, kindred … at least on a sexual level.
And so, the sex challenges began . . . We were doing it in all kinds of crazy places. It was our game: always daring one another into the next insane location to have sex … and whichever of us was the first to decline to do the deed—in the selected setting—would forever be crowned the loser.
Forever is a big sentence. It almost rhymes with life in prison.
Considering the stakes, in a brief period of time, we’d managed to christen most of southern New Jersey. It began on the toasty-warm roof of the local baseball league dugouts, just after sundown. If that wasn’t enough, we’d gotten sand in our most personal crevices on deserted beaches in the middle of the night, as the waves rolled onto the shore. And we didn’t apologize when we tainted a park bench on a local fishing pier. Nick and I both broke out in poison ivy after rolling around on a blanket, we’d carelessly tossed on top of a bed of pine needles, off a random back trail in the Pinelands. We even managed to have sex in motion while riding a Ferris Wheel on Morey’s Pier in Wildwood. On that particular occasion, we’d both agreed … it’d felt like we were flying.
Our adrenaline rushed, our hormones steamed, and our hearts raced as we tangled our limbs into crazy positions …all in the name of taking a risk and pushing our passion for danger over the top. The danger lay in our mutual fear of getting caught.
It wasn’t until we’d hit the skies, on the way to our honeymoon, when we were finally able to claim membership into the ever-elusive Mile-High Club. At thirty thousand feet—inside of a bathroom—onboard a 737, we finally knew how it really felt to have sex while flying. I’d like to say the sex graduated into a more mature making love at that point in time, but it didn’t. Let’s face it, when you’re in a three-foot by three-foot bathroom, with one foot propped on the toilet seat and your backside teetering on the edge of a two-foot-long countertop doing it … it’s just sex, pure and simple. Lovemaking would have been a far too proper term.
All these years later, it’s hard to believe that was Nick and me. But it’s true. Once upon a time, I adored him. With thick black hair, sapphire eyes, and a body that would make any red-blooded heterosexual gal drool, Nick was irresistible. He was sexy in so many ways. Quite frankly, to other women, he probably still is.
Mostly, I believed him to be absolutely perfect because he was so totally in love with me. He was mine, and I was his, and we were both fully convinced our love would last forever.
If I recall correctly, the sex challenge game ended not long after we’d married, when Nicky challenged me to have sex on a church balcony. I’d refused. As adventuresome and daring as I was, that was just too weird and over-the-top for me. Sex in God’s house? Not on your life. So, technically, I caved first ... Nicky won.
I stopped calling him Nicky a long time ago. It was probably around the same time I stopped loving him. Well, I guess, theoretically, I still loved him. I just wasn’t in love with him anymore. We’d lost each other along the way somehow. It was so long ago, I’d really stopped being convinced we’d ever had each other in the first place.
After graduating from college, each of us got a real job, we bought a house and got married. We did all the things you’re supposed to do when you become an adult. We seemed to be on the responsible and perfect road to happiness. But, after we’d added two kids and a dog, our attachment—and our commitment—to one another became blurrier.
At the end of the day, we’d landed ourselves on the expressway to boredom. You know the thing no one tells you about when you’re getting married and settling into adulthood? It’s that taking on all those grownup responsibilities doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. It was definitely a real-life lesson we collectively somehow had managed to miss out on.
Don’t get me wrong. There were some fun times after we got married. Like when we’d bought our new house … before kids. There was this one time when we were painting the dining room, Nick had accidentally knocked over about a half a gallon of gray paint. It quickly spread across the hardwood floor. I started to give him a hard time, you know … money doesn’t grow on trees and all that. So, he’d grabbed me, stripped off the romper I was wearing, while kissing me all over my face, and lowered my naked body right on top of the spill. Well, one thing led to another and the next thing you know we were rolling around on the chilly floor, leaving painted impressions of our derrières —and other unmentionable parts—on the hardwood. Afterward, and by the time we’d returned from washing the paint from our bodies, the imprints on the floor had nearly dried. In spite of myself, that memory still makes me smile.
Ultimately, we’d ended up having to carpet the dining room. Both our dining room table and china cabinet were situated on top of the rug—covering the evidence of our abstract portrait from that afternoon romp—clear up until the day we sold it. Who knows? Maybe it’s still there. How odd would it be if that actually outlasted us?
In recent years, more times than I’d care to admit, I’ve wished I could go back to our old house to pull the carpet up, just to make sure our body art was really there. To prove to myself that it’d actually ever happened at all. That those two crazy-in-love people were really Nick and me.
Which brings me to now …
And, to what I’ve done.
Some might consider my actions criminal or, at the very least, morally obscene.
Some might declare me desperate, a disgrace, and even a liar.
Or, perhaps, in the most minimal terms … a liar by my omissions.
In that regard, I should apologize for the things I’ve done since I’m not particularly proud of them. But I won’t. I’d even considered defending myself by saying I did what I did for my kids. But, truthfully? I didn’t.
The fact is, I needed to feel loved, less lonely, and desirable again. I wanted to belong with somebody. To somebody. I wanted to feel completely invested in something again. I missed having a partner, a lover, and the apparition of a lifelong best friend.
Before people judge me, I welcome them to try jamming their feet into my shoes. What if this was their story? I’d tell them to consider what they’d do … how far they’d go. What if the life in which they’d been investing all their efforts into—for the past fifteen years—was going entirely off the rails? Would they pull out all the stops? Bend a moral rule or two? Think about it.
Either way, whichever camp people fall into—she was wrong … she was right—this is my tale and the story of how it all ended.
As for me? I hate to say it, but I really do have to admit … I’d do everything exactly the way I did it … all over again.