Like a Phoenix
Donavon came to the house the next day. Although the encounter was awkward, we were both surprisingly calm. Donavon packed up as much of his things that he could safely fit into the saddle bags of his motorcycle and made rough plans to be back sometime later in the week for the rest of his things. We did not argue, or fight because of the children. He tried to apologize to me again, but I turned and walked away from him. I did not want to listen to his excuses, the lies, but most importantly I did not want him to sway me from my decision. The visit was brief, and I was left feeling numb. Perhaps I was in shock, but I felt numb.
I thought I would cry as he fired up his Harley. I was watching the man that I had married, went to war with, had children with, and gave up my dreams for ride off as if he did not have a care in the world. Maybe the tears would come later, but for now I was grateful that I was numb.
Kendra, a friend that I had made through working here in Oregon came by to check on me after Donavon had left. She asked me how everything went. I told her that it was calm, that he packed up some of his stuff and to my knowledge was going to be staying with his Aunt. My voice sounded robotic even to my own ears. Perhaps I was in shock. Who wouldn’t be after their world falls apart? She hugged me close, and tried to comfort me, but I was still numb to everything happening. The main question that kept rolling through my head was how in the world I managed to stay with him the last couple of years.
Thankfully, Kendra cooked and minded after the children for most of the day, while I just silently sulked. My mind refused to quit analyzing every last detail of our marriage. I do not know if the children really understood what was happening, but I do know that I did not want this split to turn ugly in front of them. I was determined that they would be affected as little as possible during this split. I did not cry, and that felt odd to me.
I knew that I needed to make a game plan. Donavon and I had a lot of things that we needed to discuss, regarding visitation with the children, as well as support. Even if he did not want to be a physical part of their life, he had an obligation to help support them. I had never envisioned us splitting up and going separate ways, but I had known several people that had gotten divorced. Once the children were settled in bed for the night Kendra joined me on the couch.
“Alright the kids are in bed, serious question how are you holding up?” Kendra asked me cautiously, like she was afraid I was a ticking time bomb ready to explode at the slightest move.
“Honestly, Kendra I feel numb. I am a little scared because I feel like I should be crying. There is a small part of me that wants to call and beg him to come back. There is another part of me that wants to call and scream and cry and ask him why.” Kendra listened as I ranted on.
“You know the worst part about it all, I practically begged him for sex Kendra. He has not touched me in over a year. Yet he goes and knocks some girl up?” Finally, the tears are streaming down my face. I finally realized what had been bothering me the most. In the final years of our relationship Donavon and I had not been having sex. I was ashamed of how often I asked or tried to seduce him to no avail. This was the part that was causing me the most pain. Not the fact that he cheated, that I could have gotten over. It was the fact that he cheated instead of sleeping with his own wife. The thought destroyed what little self-esteem I had left.
The more I thought about him turning to someone else, the more I started finding faults with myself. Yes, I had gained weight, mainly because of the depression. No, I do not wear makeup most days, I work too many jobs to worry about my foundation failing me, or my mascara running. Most days I wear work clothes or scrubs, but again I work too much to really dress up. I had tried seducing him a million ways. I had used candles, offered oral, taken naughty pictures, pretty much anything you can imagine to seduce a man. Was I really that undesirable?
Kendra could tell that I was starting to wallow in self-pity. She asked me to come sit with her on the front porch so she could smoke a cigarette. The night air was cool, and it wrapped around me like a soothing balm. Being outside helped me think a little more clearly.
“Do you know that I gave everything up for him?” I ask Kendra. “I gave up nursing school because he wanted to move to pursue making video games. I gave up my designing job that I loved, because it did not make enough money, and he had to have a motorcycle. Hell, I even moved to Oregon, and missed my adopted mom’s funeral. All of it I did for him. So, what did I do so wrong that he could not love me? That he could not have sex with me?”
“I hope that you realize that you are not the problem, he is.” Kendra’s voice is soft, but firm. Almost demanding me to change the way I was looking at myself.
“If I am not the problem, then why could he not get hard for me, but he could obviously get hard for her?” I ask her sarcastically.
“Noel listen men have cheated since the dawn of time. They are dogs. Society practically congratulations them for screwing as many women as they can. Shoot we patted a President on the back for getting Marilyn Monroe as a mistress. It is not right, but that is the way it is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, other than you choose a crappy husband.” I know that she is trying her hardest to cheer me up.
“I am scared Kendra. I have never truly been on my own. I do not even know how in the hell I am going to pay the bills here. Donavon was always at the house, that is how I could work so much. Without him being here, I can not leave the kids all the time. I have no idea what I am going to do.” That was the other part that was causing me so much anxiety. I really did not know how I was going to be able to afford the bills here. I was struggling as it is, working multiple jobs. Without Donavon at least being here in case of an emergency, I knew that I could not continue working so much.
“Well how about I move in?” Kendra blurts out. I never really considered the possibility of having a roommate, but Kendra was probably the person I knew best in Oregon. I mulled over the possibility in my head, wondering if this were something that could work out. Although I loved Kendra as a friend, I was worried that our personalities would clash if we were living with each other.
Kendra was a free spirit, with a good heart. She was loud, but funny. Definitely a personality that took some time to warm up to. She was fiercely blunt with her words. She has children, but they lived with their father. She was a beautiful girl, and she knew it. Kendra was a shorter girl about five foot five, shoulder length hair, and sharp facial features that gave her almost a cat like appearance. Her makeup was always on point, and she had beautiful curves with a flat stomach. Kendra never wanted for dates, and on any given weekend you could find her blowing off steam at the local bars. I was not sure that it would be a great idea for us to be roommates, but I was in a pickle. I needed help paying bills, and even with Kendra’s free spirit I knew that she had a job. I also knew that she liked my kids and could help around the house to.
“What if we try it temporarily, you know to see if we can live together without killing each other.” I ask her tentatively. I do not want to hurt her feelings, so I try hard to make it humorous.
“Sure, I could use a break from Kelly.” Kendra quickly agrees to making it temporary. Kelly is Kendra’s ex mother in law, but they had maintained a great relationship even after the divorce. I could never wrap my head around their relationship, but I respected that they still got along.
“Is it going to cause problems between you and Kelly?” I do not want to cause any issues for anyone else in my life. Although I did not know Kelly personally, I do not want to put her in a bind if she is counting on Kendra helping with bills.
“No, I think she is getting sick of having me around the house. Besides, you and I work together so it makes more sense for me to stay here. I can help you out with the kids and bills, and in return you can help me by driving me to work. Plus, if I stay here, I can actually go on dates.” Kendra says all this with a little laugh, and again I am left worried that this will not be a good situation.
Kendra has shared some of her date night stories with me at work. I have never judged her for how she conducts her life, but I do wonder if it is something that I will be able to live with. Even though on multiple occasions Kendra has told me that she wants to settle down, she seems to go through men faster than a speeding train.
“Alright but just remember I have the kids here, so I do not want a lot of people coming into the house.” I figured it would be good to set some boundaries now, so that we do not have any issues later.
Kendra laughs and says she understands. I am eternally grateful for her staying with me during this time. It seemed like things were already taking a turn for the better. With Kendra helping with the bills, and with the kids I would still be able to keep working more than one job, but still have someone that can help with the cleaning and cooking.
We stayed outside on the porch in silence for hours. Both of us locked within our minds, playing out what our futures were beginning to look like. In truth I was more lost in that moment than I can ever remember being in my life. Everything that I had once envisioned for my future had changed in an instant. I was now questioning everything about myself, and how to move forward. I was already in my thirties, yet somehow it felt like someone had hit a reset button on my entire life.
Kendra and I stayed on the front porch until dusk, turned to night, and then night turned into midnight. Finally, as the chill permeated our skin, we wandered back inside. Kendra ended up sleeping on my chair that night, while I laid down on the couch. It was by far too soon for me to sleep in the bed that I had once shared with Donavon.