I just woke up from a bad dream. Or I guess you could call it a middle-aged-married-woman-with-three-kids version of a nightmare.
In this dream I was driving in an unfamilliar area out in the countryside looking for the house of friends. My husband was there waiting for me and we were meeting for dinner. I remembered his directions, "If you drive into the historic part of downtown, you've gone too far." (Never mind that winding country roads never lead to historic parts of downtown. Our mind's acceptance of dream unreality is a strange phenomenon.)
Sure enough, I approach the historic district with it's four story homes, six feet tall shuttered windows, wrapping front porches adorned with strands of tiny white lights. It's a restaurant district.
I become lost in this downtown area and try to wind my way out when I spot my husband's car. Strange, what is he doing here?
I park my car and wander into the restaurant in search of my errant husband. I find myselfstanding on a 2nd story balcony, looking down just in time to see my husband who looks nothing like my current husband but like an amalgamation of my former boyfriend and the actor Edward Norton.
Yes, I have the hots for Edward Norton.
I see husband Norton dart across the landing below, smiling over his shoulder in a flirtatious manner, reaching for the hand of an equally firtatious blonde 20 years my junior and 60 pounds my lighter. Think Naomi Watts. And yes, I am a brunette who carries a natural resentment toward all blondes for all the fun I imagine them having.
Also pertinent, my relationship with the former boyfriend partially starring in my dream ended when he began a real life flirtation with a skinny-ass blonde to whom he introduced me nonchalantly one night as he was bartending and I instantly knew something was up. But that's a digression I will resist at the moment. The point is, there's meaningful emotional memory here and I'm staring at it from my balcony perch in a deja vu of disbelief.
The dream goes on to my finding Norton and Naomi in an even more compromising attitude, on a couch in some back room of the restaurant, with me confronting him/them (because Naomi will not take a hint and leave my dream) only to have him/them give me the equivalent of a shoulder shrug, as if to say, "So?"
And there's hardly a more crushing feeling than to have your shocked, broken hearted, cheated on indignation shrugged off as if it's no more of a biggie, than say, finding a small parking lot ding in the rear of your eight-year-old car.
And then the dream winds it's way to a point where I run away with plans to ignore him, in the vein of, I'll show him! But then I remind myself that this is exactly what husband Norton and Naomi would want. So I turn around and desperately hunt them down. I confront husband Norton a second time, a third time with my tears and my hysteria and my How Could You's, my How Could You Do This to Me? To Us? To US?!? only to find him, once again, looking at me quizzically, as if to say, What is your problem?
And to hear him ask what did I expect, after all I was a sour puss, was no fun, was a downer, was boring, never smiled. (The not smiling thing? Something I have heard all my life.) The only thing he didn't say was, And you're fat. But he didn't need to.
And then I see me turning away, finally. Defeated. Devestated. Resigned.
So this is how it's going to be. Divorced and alone at 50. Overweight, out of shape, and out of a steady sex partner and second income.
My head drops, I walk out into the misty night rain, skulking back to my car, heart heavy. I pass a single friend of mine from graduate school who is enjoying a girls night out, and say, "Don't be surprised if I start joining you." She looks at me with an uncomprehending expression but I don't stop to explain.
I wake up with the same sinking feeling I had many years ago, thinking, No man is trustworthy. No man cherishes the longterm intimacy and attachment that comes with years of companionship. No man can resist the younger, thinner, shapelier temptress.
And then I really wake up. I locate myself in my bedroom, under my sheets and my wedding ring quilt, listening to NPR's Steve Innskeep tell us Liberace's Museum is Closing Its Glittery Gates.
I then hear the comforting sounds of Sam getting our kids ready for school. I hear him shouting at our daughter, Don't tell ME to calm down. I tell YOU to calm down! And her usual refrain, Dad! You are SO MEAN!
I stumble out of bed and walk my bleary-eyed self into the kitchen. I nod my head sleepily as Sam tells me his version of the yelling.
All at once I feel better. I smile. And am determined to smile more often.