Does he know?
I know she knows.
He looks like he knows and I bet he does, because she knows and she probably told him.
How on Earth did he find out?
At my work, I just went through a process of having to lay off a bunch of people after a good six weeks of planning among a select few managers. My wife’s 40th birthday party with all those friends and family was a bit like compressing those six weeks into 8 hours.
I immersed myself in hosting duties, insisting that the Leaver sit relax, drink and enjoy herself. It worked, the time flew but it was hard to keep track without a score card. I resisted bringing up the question with the Leaver during the party at least — does this person know? In some cases it astounds me that some people there don’t know already.
Why does it matter? she answered when I asked her the next day.
She’s right of course, it shouldn’t matter.
She’s done most of the telling to our immediate friends and neighbours. I didn’t because I’m worried about the kids finding out before we tell them. But these people have kids that play with our kids and it wouldn’t take much for someone talking to a spouse or for my soon-to-be-ex speaking to them with a child in ear-shot and we’re dealing with a disaster.
But she has to be free to tell whoever she likes. My discomfort is probably just as much a symptom of my paranoia in trying to keep the personal private then anything else.
No one talked to me about what was going on directly. I got a lot of weighty “how are you’s” and heartfelt “you’ve done a fantastic job with the kebabs. I mean really, really incredible,” like I was a surgeon who’d just managed to save little Timmy’s leg.
And then there was the neighbour who reached out to give me one of those arm-wrestling grip soul-shakes after the Leaver’s inebriated toast to me. How the hell did he know? He must know…. Does he know?
Luckily the Leaver was pretty sedated by the time midnight rolled around.
So she didn’t see what I saw. The folks who would usually be there to clean up past 1 were gone by ten. With some of the closest to us both leaving the earliest. I don’t know if it was because enough people knew to dampen those that didn’t but people made their excuses unusually early. With the pat on the arm and the promise to… see you soon?
“you”– plural? “you” –singular?
We create sides… no they pick sides…. no I made the sides…
The evening was exemplary of how much is lost and as a result how little solid there is to stand on. The uncertainty from this massive loss contaminates your relationship with all the people around you.
People say “we love you both” and of course they do. But I want validation and certainly the Leaver wants validation. While we say we don’t want conflict and we want to work together to blah blah, blah. We want people to be on our side — less ambiguity in a life now filled with question marks.
I think we both managed to suppress the urge to take someone aside and spill. I know I had that urge very strongly at one point. Because there is this sense, if I get to that person first, I can lay claim to them and they’ll see it my way; she’ll have to change their mind.
But in the context of the party what a crappy thing to do to someone — just screw over their evening and leave a rotten taste in their mouth.
But despite not going to that extreme, I suspect the friends who were there find our melodrama — even when suppressed and contained — depressing. And at a party you want to have fun. So the ones who didn’t know had the most fun. And the ones who knew probably felt awkward, a little paranoid (does the person I’m talking to know?), sad and probably more than a little bit sorry for us.
It would be nice to think that the party was the zenith of those feelings. But it’s just the beginning of that. I better get used to it.