I left Odette sleeping and after a very long shower I got dressed and took Zoe to preschool. It felt so good to be off the road and back where I belonged. As I took a refreshing sip of my power smoothie the local organic-juice place concocted for me, I wished that I could quench the nagging feeling that Odette did not feel the same for me, as I did for her. I could not help but wonder if she felt I was better off somewhere else entirely.
I parked the car and decided to take a long walk. As expected, I bumped into Bob, out on the small patch of sand in front of his house doing his daily Tai-Chi. I watched my friend silently for a moment or two until he called out “Stop staring and start feeling” laughing, I kicked off my flip flops and walked over to him, stopping to pick up the small towel he carelessly tossed on the dilapidated bench he refused to remove from the garden. Bob took the towel and paused to poach my smoothie then envelope me in a giant bear hug.
We sat on the bench and Bob sipped quietly and listened patiently as I told him some of the funnier stories from the road. He had me in stitches as he explained the process of setting up the trampoline for Zoe. As our laughter slowly died down I realized that I needed to come clean. Sensing this, Bob suggested a walk and he yelled inside for Lucy to hold off on cooking the eggs they had previously collected earlier that morning from their small, but according to Luna, deafeningly-loud chicken coop.
I wanted to confess everything to Bob, but didn’t know quite where to begin. I started with Evan since I had to begin somewhere.”Evan, I’m wondering if he is a problem.”
Bob pointed at me, “He’s a great guy; very moral a fantastic student and not going to run off with your wife”.
I started to protest but said instead “He sent me an email. When I was on the road, still pissed off at the whole Jake thing, I got an email from this Evan dude telling me that Odette did actually cheat on me here in St. Augustine, as Jake told me, twice. And she did it, like, hours before we came to surprise her. I mean, just that morning before I came to see her, she was fucking that douche bag.” Bob put his arm on my shoulders and instead of denying any of what Evan said simply sighed.
“The thing is. He was so sincere. His letter was fucking beautiful and he shared how his wife had an affair and that is what broke them up and how he felt that I deserved to know. He said Odette was amazing, but that I needed to understand the whole truth before I could begin to make decisions about forgiveness or being able to heal.”
Bob stopped walking and turned to me “So, what did you do, after you read his email?”
“I looked out at the sea trying to spot some of Odette’s dolphins before responding “I drank. I drank a lot and I blacked out and then I drank some more. I once passed out in Cleveland and woke up the following morning in Chicago, in a strange hotel room with no remembrance of how I got there or what I might have done.”
I rubbed my nose and thought of all the stupid things I did during that blurry period between being loaded and sober. Then I glanced back over at Bob. He was still looking at me solemnly, paying close attention. I tried to figure out how to explain my indiscretions, without seeming like a horrible person.
“I started compartmentalizing my life – I knew that Zoe was o.k., I was sober enough every morning to make sure of that and most of the time she wouldn’t talk to me on the phone anyway so it didn’t matter. The point is, I knew that she was good. Odette was taking care of her. So, I figured it didn’t really matter what I was doing and I just pissed away whole concerts, days, cities….. My real life was so fucked up that I just wanted to not think. I wanted to just live.”
I checked in on Bob’s expression, afraid of what kind of horror I would read in his face but he just nodded and encouraged me to continue.
“Things finally got so out of hand that I slept with some groupie on our tour bus. And, when Dave caught us I didn’t really care. It was like it was happening to someone else. It wasn’t until she left and I faced myself in the mirror that I realized what I was doing.”
“And that is when you asked Odette to marry you again?” Bob spoke in a voice so soft I wasn’t sure if I really heard him right so when I asked him to repeat he clarified in a shaking, booming voice “Odette told us that you want to renew your vows. Are you doing this so your own infidelity can be excused?” I could tell he was sort of pissed at me and frankly I didn’t blame him.
“Shit, no Bob. I didn’t sleep with someone else with the intent to wipe the slate clean. Although I have to say that it did help me to forgive her. I know that’s fucked up and I am not excusing it, but I didn’t even fucking know what I was doing. I don’t even know what the girl looked like. But, all of that is besides to point. I want to marry Odette again because if we can stand up in front of God and our friends and families and declare our love and commitment to one another despite all the shit we have done to hurt one another then our love is real. It will mean something.”
I rubbed my stinging eyes, I just needed him to understand. I looked up at him desperately and after a couple of agonizing minutes while he seemed to think all of this over, he finally smiled and nodded and said, “OK, son, If you think this is what will get you both back on the right track, then I think we have a wedding to plan”