It’s game time.
This past Sunday found us in the unlikeliest of places.
Jessica had invited us to watch playoff football at her house. Which up until recently, used to be “their house”. James and I thought it may be nice to perhaps test the waters, and go to the house to share more conversation and enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon watching football.
What could possibly go wrong?
A few days prior, Jessica had asked James if he could come and tidy up their pool, as the house is currently on the market for sale, and there were certain items that would be easy for him to address.
I was finishing up my final weekend at work before my transfer takes effect next week. While I had to work the night prior, it was certainly fine for me to come home, sleep, then head on over for some football and fun.
James greeted me at home as I walked in the door. I was tired from working all night, and I knew that I had to get right to bed, in order to keep on schedule for the afternoon. James was bustling around in the kitchen, as I stripped off my scrubs, donned my pajamas, and headed for bed.
Three hours later, as if on cue, I awakened to find the apartment quiet, and the lingering scent of cookies that James had baked, still lingering in the air. After trading a few text messages with James to determine the game plan, I stumbled to the shower. I decided to get ready, and head over.
That nagging voice inside my head whispered to me: “I don’t know about this.”
Oh, shut the fuck up. It’s just a football game at her house.
“It’s a football game at THEIR HOUSE, you idiot.”
I finish showering, grab the bottle of ’08 Pessagno Zinfandel, and head out the door.
Within ten minutes I find myself parked outside the house.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
Yeah. I’m sure. I can handle this.
Jessica meets me at the door, as Layla bounds out to greet me, offering me sloppy dog kisses in a canine version of rolling out the welcome mat. I walk inside to find James sitting on the couch, football game already in progress.
“Thanks so much for the wine, Lisa. I really appreciate it,” Jessica offers.
“No problem. My pleasure. Thanks for inviting us over today.”
“Hey, baby,” James motions for me to sit next to him.
Looking back upon this now, I can honestly say that this was the precise moment where it all changed. Suddenly, we weren’t sharing fondue forks and toasting our futures in a neutral location.
We were here. In THIS house. In HER house. In THEIR house.
Damn you, Voice.
Time passed, the game progressed, and the conversation flowed easily, but something changed. I became acutely aware of the ease with which James and Jessica moved around the house.
HER house. THEIR house.
Within an hour or so, a mutual friend arrived. My nervousness melted away for the time being. We all chatted, and time passed.
Our Mutual Friend turned to me and said, “I give you a ton of credit.”
“Why? I think the credit really is shared. This is potentially uncomfortable for all of us.”
Our Mutual Friend looked at me, nonplussed.
Eventually, she gathered her things to leave. We all bid her farewell, and found ourselves once again numbered at three. Our original triad. The three amigos.
As I stepped into the other room to take a somewhat urgent call from a friend, something caught my eye. James was clearing the dishes from dinner, and he looked at me and smiled from the kitchen.
HER kitchen. THEIR kitchen.
He didn’t have to ask where the silverware went, or where the plates were stored, or ask directions on how to start the dishwasher. He had done it possibly thousands of times before. When he lived here. With Jessica.
I wrapped up my phone call. Laughter greeted my ears. James and Jessica were laughing about something in the living room. I wandered out and took my seat next to James. The conversation was undoubtedly about something in their shared past. They were recalling a funny situation, and just as soon as the laughter began, it stopped.
The commercial was over, and the game resumed.
I can’t lie. I won’t lie. I had no problem with their easy, casual banter, but I found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable with simply being there. There. There, in the house, where these two people had shared a life, and at one time, a love.
I could barely bring myself to use the bathroom when needed. I didn’t want to possibly take a wrong turn and find myself in a bedroom. With explicit directions, this possibility never came to pass.
As the afternoon stretched into evening, the game ended. Well, not quite.
I stole a quick glance at James, and announced that I was leaving. I wanted to relax a bit for the two hours or so I had before leaving for work that night.
I got up from the couch. I thanked Jessica for her hospitality.
James followed me out. But….
he didn’t leave with me. He wanted to stay and see the end of the football game. I was crushed. Immediately, my cheeks flushed with anger. I steeled myself and kissed him goodbye. He whispered, “I’ll be right behind you, baby.”
But, you aren’t leaving with me…..
I suppose this is where I need to explain my anger. Or do I?
I was saddened and upset that James had chosen a playoff football game over me. In my mind he had chosen the comfortable home he had shared at one time with Jessica over me. In my mind, at that precise moment, I felt that James was placing more importance on the past than on the present.
Or the future.
I drove quickly home. Within a few minutes, James arrived home. I was still so angry, I couldn’t speak. I felt foolish. I felt hurt. I felt shocked, but most of all, I felt disappointed.
Disappointed that I couldn’t rise above this. Disappointed that James couldn’t see the importance of it all. Disappointed that our evening was going to possibly end on a sour note before I left for work.
James sensed my anger. I explained my position, although, I just couldn’t seem to articulate anything. I tried to explain that I was hurt that we didn’t leave together and explained my perspective, my view.
James, in his defense, countered with some valid points. There was nothing unsavory going on, plus he had been in a relationship that lacked so many things, he wasn’t in tune to how I might feel about the entire situation. But, he also agreed that in the end, the reality of me sitting in the house he once shared with his soon-to-be ex-wife had to be uncomfortable for me. He admitted that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with it, either.
We wouldn’t have known if we didn’t try, right?
And try we did. But, perhaps the most important lesson from that day is that while we all my have found a place where we can all be civil with one another, and even possibly form some sort of friendships, there also needs to be some boundaries. A clear definition of roles. A definite importance placed on the relationship that James and I currently share, along with giving Jessica the space to pursue new relationships.
I love this man more than I ever thought possible. So much, in fact, that I welcome the newly-found insight that results from situations such as this.
As for the Super Bowl?
Can we just get a cozy table in the back?