Friday, August 20, 2010

Stuck at 12:22.

Stuck at 12:22.

The clock reads 12:22. I can see him on the edge of the bed wrestling with his hand. Pulling. Twisting. Right. Left. Digging into the knuckle. Scraping against the flesh when I tell him to stop.
“Please stop. You don’t have to take it off. I don’t mind.”
“I want to take it off… when I’m with you.”
 “I can’t believe you let me sleep this late.” I say still looking over at the clock. 12:22.
“We just went to sleep three hours ago.” He half snaps at me.
 “Stop Baby. She’ll notice that mark.”
“And she won’t notice the tan line.” He says.

People will tell you don’t fall in love with a married man, to that I respond you can’t help who you fall in love with. When they tell me that I’m selling myself short, I respond that I know what I’m doing. And I do. I know the position I’m in. I know he can’t or won’t leave his wife. I don’t expect him to for me. He has to do that for himself. It doesn’t change the fact that he loves me. He does. We don’t talk about the things that can’t happen. We talk about the things we can do together. This is enough for right now. It’s funny what enough is when you’re in love. The sacrifices you are willing to make to be with someone.

When we first met I didn’t think I would like him. His assistant was a small child like boy that went to SFSU for human relations in communicative studies. Otherwise known as a communications major. Wanye Michaels meet Gina Maric was the introduction. His office was pushed back through a maze of hallways on the fifteenth floor of a building in the business district. I can remember the color of his tie that day. Yellow. Every distinct thing in the room I can recall like yesterday. And the first thing he said to me was, “You’re all wrong, get out of my office.” So I left and went to work for his partner Paul in the offices along the opposite side of the building. My title was personal attaché and that meant a lot of different things for Paul.

Paul had errands that involved things and boys all hours of the day or night. It wasn’t until Paul left for the NY office that I went to work for Wayne. And the switch was a breath of fresh daylight air and professional comfort. The first time I had to help Wayne he was between floors in an elevator with a “friend” and his other assistant the small boy from SFSU was panicking. Calling too many people. And Wayne wanting no more attention being drawn to the situation needed it taken care of immediately. To ensure they were dislodged quietly the phone call I placed was of the utmost discretion. Even handling the release and removal of his other assistant with several confidentiality agreements required caution.  Wayne had one rule if there was any: his wife didn’t need to know. I respected that. They had a history. She didn’t need to be reminded of things that she already knew about.

After handling the sticky mess involving the “friend” and former assistant I became Wayne’s full-time solitary personal liaison. The position required me to attend multiple trips and events with his business associates as a helpful connection. Several trips in I allowed things to change and it was then that I decided my first loyalty wasn’t to Wayne. When things started I knew I had to keep a part of myself from him. But that’s not how it ended up. One thing became two then three and I was already in the middle of much more. In the beginning we took care to hide the situation and he continued to be seen with other women, then occasionally we worked and spent time with his friends, eventually we attended events together. It wasn’t my intention to become one of his friends or lovers, it happened.

It’s not as though a woman starts an affair with the intention of doing so. I tried to explain that to friends in the beginning. It wasn’t as though I’d wanted to be involved this way. I would have preferred that he wasn’t already attached in a commitment to another. It wasn’t enough for them. There are always those people trying to tell you differently about finding happiness. That it’s not how they would choose so it must be wrong.

 “I don’t think your tan line will be the problem when the rest of you is tan.”
“Now isn’t the time to pick a fight. Help me with this.”
He twists the ring back and forth around his knuckle. I can see the pain it causes him. Rubbing raw against the skin. Digging in deeper. Stuck. He continues for what seems like an eternity. 12:22. I love the way his head leans forward to examine the struggle further. Like the ring was a mere part that was out of place. I move closer to lean in and kiss his neck and he shakes me off.
“Just help me.”
“No. Really what?”

High viscosity. Means nothing is moving. Thick like quicksand anything that enters will become lodged in. Think of a sugary liquid in the bowl that won’t move unless you add more water. In order to make something move you have to add something to it. Sometimes that’s heat, sometimes its water and sometimes it’s like quicksand and there’s no way out.

We’re at lunch in the park when he tells me about the trip before asking me to pick up Adrian. He tells me he’s off of Howard somewhere. And how it’s this place that I’d never been in the Caribbean. We’ve been talking about getting away for a while but haven’t actually been able to. I ask him why Adrian didn’t call me first. He says it’s because he isn’t himself at the moment and I should just go with it. I smile and tell him that I love it when Adrian isn’t himself. He tells me this is pretty bad. I slide my hand across the table and cover his gently. I love when he shows concern for his friends. It’s almost 2:30. I should go. But he stops me.
“Baby, I love you.” He says and stops me from getting up.
“I love you too. What’s all this about?”
“I’ve been… I need to make it up to you.”
“Tell me then. “
“On the trip. Later.”
“Baby, I have to go then.” I get a quick kiss before leaving the table.

It’s hard when you’re with someone who is being unfaithful to someone else. It makes you question the basis of your relationship. It often makes you stop and wonder what it is about the person that they are cheating on.  And wonder if it’s really you that is being cheated on as well. Once in a while you start thinking that maybe they aren’t really with you because they want to be but that’s before you stop wondering if they’ll leave that other person as quickly as they’d leave you.

“Dahlia’s going to have another baby.” He says it like he wants me to react.
“Let me help with the ring. I have some lotion in my purse.” I get up and walk to the bathroom and get my purse.
“Did you hear me? I said...”
“I heard you. What do you want me to say?” I throw the purse on the floor and keep the lotion in my hand as I walk out of the bathroom.
“Something would be nice.”
“Wayne, we’ve been at this before. We’ve discussed what would happen if she had another baby.”
“Are you ready for this?”
“It’s not up to me. You’ve always needed to make this choice yourself.” I start lubing his finger and twisting.
“Baby, don’t be mad at me. Damn it, stop!” He pulls his hand back. “That hurts.”
“What then?” I sigh and throw the bottle of lotion at the far wall.
“I’m not trying to hurt you. Listen. I don’t know if I want to stay with her…”
“Wayne. Don’t tell me this. It’s not up to me. You can’t expect me to tell you the right thing h…”
“I’m not. But I told you I’d stay if she had another. I don’t think I want to. Especially since… ”
“Wayne, what is it?” I walk over and try to hold him although he pushes at me.
“She’s had someone else for a while and I looked the other way cause I had you. I think she might leave.”
“What are you doing to me? I’m done. I can’t. Leave me…” with a slap across his face I walk away and slam the bathroom door.

We’ve had our fair share of fights. I can’t believe I’m doing this half the time is what I think when I go back. No relationship is perfect. It takes work and there’s a fair share of ups and downs. You either ride them out or walk away.

Even when we’re leaving to LA to catch a meeting before flying out to NY before coming to the Islands I know we weren’t mad at each other for the previous week. The previous week when we fought over nothing and Dahlia had phoned the office to have me deliver the favors for the girl’s sleepover. An incident at the house with the family never goes well with Wayne. Its how she likes to behave he tells me over and over again.

Sometimes I think he wants to tell her not to call because of how it makes him feel afterwards. But he doesn’t. It’s hard to when I have to deal with the calls from the house. When I hear his wife on the line and his daughters in the background it’s difficult. Dahlia knows and the conversation is always forced kindness between us until it’s over and she sets down the line.

“You get to a point where you need to be with someone,” she says.
“How do you know?” asks her best friend Carla Andress.
“You don’t know. Trust, hope, happiness can all be things that you deceive yourself with. But the trick is in finding a way to get past all that fear of deception to be with someone.”
The conversation is staged for my benefit. I’m hearing the same lies she tells herself along with everyone else, meaning the other housewives and mothers of the girls waiting to be left at the sleepover. Funny thing is that these are the same things I tell myself. And I smile with all the grace within me as I leave the five bags of treats and toys from the Emporium in the living room. Deep down I know he wants to tell me “don’t come by the house”, but he can’t.

We’ve never been in his house. Together. I don’t think I could respect myself if we did. It’s always been in hotels or trips or with his friends. Most of his friends don’t know about her. It’s me that is the front. The wife and family are kept hidden. Sometimes it feels like she is the affair and I’m the one he is with.

It’s hard to imagine such a cold woman with Wayne. He tells me she isn’t like this. That she puts up the wall to cover the weaknesses. The children are happy and well cared for. It sends me spinning sometimes that I have to let him go back home to her. The long weekends with her in Mendocino hurt more viciously than any wound. Smiling on Monday when he tells me about the trip. About her, him and the girls. I hate that part of this. But I understand that this is what I choose. I could be with my friends or dating a completely available man, but this relationship is what I choose. Because this is enough. I chose to see him on select weekdays, weekends, and late lunches and between meetings at the office. I could be doing a thousand other things with myself, but I limit myself to him. Because I love him this is enough. And even though this is the part that wounds me, I wouldn’t want to die without any scars.

Wayne has me on speakerphone when I pull up across the street from where Adrian is sitting. Wayne tells me “kid’s gloves” before hanging up. Adrian doesn’t recognize me and seems pretty smashed. I get out of the car, smile and wave at him. I love it when I get to see Adrian even though he hasn’t been himself since Felicia. She really took a part of his heart out. And possibly his mind. I miss Adrian with Jemma. They both seemed to get on better before L.A. Before Felicia. Adrian keeps talking and taking hits while I’m stuck in traffic. He’s terribly witty even when he doesn’t know me. Tells me about hiring hookers for Wayne and that keeps me laughing. I can’t help wondering if this is what will happen to me when Wayne decides to leave me someday. Will I go crazy and lose myself? I think of sacrifices and scars and then I decide to arrive early for our meeting at the Four Seasons to talk with Wayne alone.

At the Four Seasons it’s another time when the ring is stuck and I can’t breathe while he’s undressing me in the bathroom of a hotel suite.
“Wayne, can’t we talk?”
“There’s no time. Are you sure Adrian is okay?”
“Wayne, he’s fine. He seemed happy to walk around.”
“Then come on. What’s wrong?”
“What happens when this is over?”
“We’ll go hang out with Adrian at the bar.”
“Wayne, be serious. What happens to me when you decide it’s over?”
“Fuck. You know how to kill it. Why now?” He tosses his watch and leaves the bathroom.
“Adrian. I think I’m afraid of being in too far.”
“Adrian did that to himself! What do you want from me?”
“Talk to me.”
“Let me guess. A commitment? You swore you’d never pull this shit.”
“I’m not. I’m leaving. I need to think.” I pull my shirt and jacket on and look at him.
“Gina. Don’t go.”
“Call me later. Don’t be late for Adrian.”
I drive around the park for two hours and 45 minutes before heading to Frank’s to meet Wayne and Adrian. It’s on the way to Frank’s that I decide I can’t get upset again. Not like this. Not about this. It’s not his fault. I chose this. The arguments, the wife, the sacrifices and scars.  

We’re on the deck of the yacht. I can see the crystal blue waters surrounding the boat. Wayne goes below deck for another bottle of wine. Dahlia is wearing the same printed swimsuit I am. She walks over to the railing and looks into the water. We’re alone and there’s nothing between us. I ask her what we’re looking at and I can see the white of her teeth when she smiles at me. She says nothing but reaches over and puts her hands around my neck. Tighter and tighter she squeezes and I can’t breathe. There’s no one around and I can feel the life slipping away from me. Then it’s like some small part of me starts to grow and grow from inside becoming this hateful rage. With that rage I reach back and start to crush her face in. Her hands release their grip. Fist by fist my hands pound into her flesh. Fingers start pulling at the skin to reveal nothing. I’m consumed by this and want to keep going, but I remember about Wayne and stop to push her body into the crystal blue waters. I watch it splash and the redness spreads. I can feel the blood dripping down my arms and the flesh stuck between my fingernails. I don’t care that she’s gone. My rage is satisfied.

And then I wake up. It’s not that I want to kill her. I don’t. To me she is an extension of Wayne. I love Wayne and that part of his life is precious. Valuable. My love extends to value what he loves. I can not destroy that which I love. I’m stuck. This is what I accept. Until the one day when it becomes too much. When I can’t anymore. When the quicksand is pulling me under. Then maybe I escape. But will I blame myself afterwards?

Baby, come out. Don’t leave. Not like this. ”
“I love you. Come out. Talk to me.” I open the door and face him.
“No, why didn’t you say something before?”
“I didn’t think I could confront her. Shit, that’s not it. I don’t know.”
“I can’t tell you what to do…” I put my hand on his mouth, “Shh. I don’t want you keeping things from me.”
“Gina, I’m wrong. I should have said something. That was wrong. I want to be with you. Just you baby. Marry me. When this is over, make it real. Official.”
“Wayne, I love you. I’m not going anywhere right now. But I don’t know about official either.”
“Alright we’ll figure this out later. I love you.” He says before kissing me and starting things.
We make love on the floor outside of the bathroom and he falls asleep. Its still 12:22 when I realize that the clock is stuck. And the ring on his finger is stuck. Not me. I could leave at any time. I choose to be here.

Gina takes me to the Four Seasons. She has an appointment with a client and I’m having drinks with Wayne at 5:30. It’s only 4:15pm. You aren’t at the Four Seasons. You don’t like hotel bars. I’m the opposite of dry. What trouble can I find?

The ladies locker room isn’t where I should be. So I’m leaving even though she asks me to stay. Who? Someone. She follows me. Smiles and says come back to my room. It’s 4:25. I’ve got time. I need another hit.

It’s 5:15. The maids’ pantry is stocked with a thousand tiny little chocolate mints. There’s a closet full of those tiny mini bar liquors that is now missing thirty eight tiny bottles of Stoli Vodka. Mint Chocolate and Vodka sounds like an amazing new flavor for ice cream.  You would love that. Why don’t they put alcohol in ice cream? I’ll ask Wayne. He makes things happen. My bottles clink clank while I walk across the empty lobby.

I’m at the hotel bar. Wayne is here early. I’m beyond soaked. I show him my new dance that produces three little bottles from the bottom of my left pant leg. Wayne thinks it’s funny and asks me about Gina. I say client with inappropriate finger quotes. Wayne shakes his head and smacks me on the shoulder. I share about the party invite from Alex. Wayne looks at his watch, nods and tells me to order a drink. I forget about Stoli and Chocolate Mint Ice Cream… before I forget about you.

12:22. Been hanging onto this one since the list from January was made for February. If you look careful enough, the idea would have fit in nicely with the “love” ones I was working on at the time. Although it isn’t quite as dark it definitely has the tone. Anyway, it took a little bit of tweaking and a couple of days to work it into this. There’s new coming soon. Ready to split focus among other things. Back to finishing these things up. Will explain soon, if you haven’t guessed yet. Kisses for those you love. please enjoy. have a great night. m.

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