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American Romance Creative Nonfiction

I began seeing the woman who would later become my second wife before my first wife and I had broken up and separated. It was right at the time I was about to turn thirty and felt the fleeting dreams of my youth dying, and quite frankly, was having my first of many midlife crises. So, how did I deal with it? Well, I admit, very poorly, to say the least. In other words, I handled the situation like a heartless heel.

The “other woman” had been one of my guitar students for a brief period of time in the summer of 1983. The reason her music lessons ended she was that she was leaving New York City to spend the next six or seven months with relatives in Germany. From the time she departed at the end of August until February of 1984 we airmailed many love letters back and forth across the Atlantic to one another. That’s a rather important fact in the telling of this tawdry tale, so please remember it for the paragraphs still to follow.

My first wife, whom from this point forth I shall refer to as “J”, and I had been together for nearly a decade. The other woman, who in kind I shall now refer to as “M”, and I, and as I have previously stated, had known each other for only several months prior to the time she had jetted off to Germany. In each transatlantic missive between M and I, we not only expressed, and often graphically, our intimate feeling for each other, but I had also implored her to move in with me when she returned to NYC in the upcoming year. Yes, even though J and I were still living together throughout those written exchanges. When M had finally capitulated and agreed to the suggested living arrangement with me I couldn’t have been happier, or more at odds as to what to when it came to J still sharing the same home. So I plotted a deviously deceitful plan of action. 

During the months before M was scheduled to return to NYC, J and I had been arguing constantly. If it wasn’t one thing we bickered about—it was another. Now, almost thirty-seven years later, I’m not sure if it was either the end of 1983 or if it was the very beginning of 1984 that I wrote a song of which the lyrics, in as much as for your convenience as for the purpose of plot progression of this saga, I’ve shared here.

Anymore

So you found my love letters

Now you know her name

And that I can’t live without her

Anymore

At first, your words were angry

Then you cried

To think we won’t go on together

Anymore

We no longer sleep together

We don’t dine in the dark with each other

So why pretend we’re lovers

Anymore

I know the truth is often bitter

Because lovers are often untrue

You love me—I love her

Now it’s starting to blur

Into who hurt who first

Then who hurt who when

And who’s hurting who to get even again

But I just can’t write you love songs

Anymore

I know the truth if often bitter

Because lovers are often untrue

So why pretend we’re lovers

Anymore

We no longer sleep together

We don’t dine in the dark with each other

You love me—I love her

Now it’s starting to blur

Into who hurt who first

When who hurt who then

And who’s hurting who to get even again

But I just can’t write you love songs

Anymore

Now you found my love letters

So you know her name

And that we can’t go on pretending

Anymore

After composing it I know J heard me singing that little number in the tiny Upper Eastside Manhattan apartment we still shared at the time. Deep down I was hoping she’s figure out that I had met someone else and wanted to end our marriage, but she didn’t. With each passing day, I’d sing it she barely paid it any mind, except for one occasion when she commented, “That’s such a sad song.” The time was drawing precariously near for M’s return to NYC and to take up residence with me in the same place where J was still residing.

It must be obvious to you at this point; I had to come up, and come up quickly, with a new plan. So, can you guess what I did? That’s right, instead of telling J in a straightforward, decently honest manner that we were about to split up and were without question heading for divorce, like the craven little coward I was, and as in the biblical tale of the end of Judas’ relationship with Jesus, I set in motion and initiated J’s final betrayal with a kiss.

I had kept every letter M had written hidden in one of my guitar cases. You see, never once did J ever have an-y reason to open, much less search any of the many musical instruments carrying cases that cluttered our cracker-box like living space. The very next morning I collected those love letters and left them in a place where I knew she’d discover and read them. Then, before leaving our place to go teach a guitar lesson, I paused at the door to give J a quick last kiss goodbye. 

Of course, J did find and read them. She also recalled that sad song I had written and been singing the entire winter. So she put two and two together really fast to get four. Next, she moved out and left me for good. This shameful episode still haunts me to this very day. If I could go back in time I’d try to undo that cavalier act of callous cruelty if possible, but I can’t, because it’s simply impossible to relive the past.

There are some days and nights when I’m alone and unable to press the pause button on rerunning that final scene of the end of my marriage to J. As much as I try to forget how I brutally betrayed my first wife in that atrocious act with its Judas kiss, over the years, I still play out in my mind the final acts of that pitiful Passion play again and again. It’s still the heaviest cross I bear. Maybe someday it’ll break me, finally driving me crazy, or sending me to an early grave. I really don’t know for sure. But what I do know is how frequently I’ve felt I no longer can live beneath the burden of its weight, ironically enough, anymore.

November 27, 2020 18:41

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2 comments

Lou Dalverny
18:56 Dec 10, 2020

Nicely done

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Stevie B
17:49 Mar 24, 2021

Lou, thank you!

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