I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.
That’s such a strange thing to say. “I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.” A perfectly unremarkable statement, carrying with it some weighty implications, as though it were an event that required planning, that having coffee with her should somehow be out of the ordinary. It’s normal for married couples to have coffee together. I see it all the time on television (and we all know anything on television must be normal). But it becomes weird when you’ve been estranged from your spouse for over a week.
I haven’t seen her in ten days now, not since June 8, when we had our argument. We’ve barely been in communication since then. Presumably, she realized that I wasn’t just going to come home with nothing resolved, so there were a few days with no communication whatsoever. Then today, I got an e-mail from her, asking if I wanted to have coffee at our favorite cafe. I hem-hawed about it for a while, before finally texting her my assent.
So, after ten days of separation, I’m meeting Ashley tonight, to have coffee and catch up, and, I assume, to discuss the state of our marriage, why I left, and what it means for our future. It’s not like we haven’t had this conversation a dozen times before. We’re not breaking new ground here. But, given the circumstances leading up to our meeting tonight, I have no idea how this is going to go.
…you know, I say that. But it’s not entirely true.
I know that I’ll arrive fifteen minutes early, because that’s what I do. I know I’ll be done with my first cup of coffee, likely with a shot of Bailey’s in it, by the time she shows up, perfectly punctual, as always. I know she’ll look beautiful in her summer attire. When I see her, my heart will skip a beat, my throat will catch, my stomach will turn in knots, the same as always when I see her the first time after any extended period apart. And I know, despite how happy I will be to see her, I won’t hug her, or shake her hand, or anything, because I’m stubborn. I’ll stand up while she sits, because that’s what a gentleman does, and I’ll ask how her day was. She’ll tell me some brief anecdote about the day’s events, then ask me the same, and I’ll do the same.
By the time her first, my second, coffee arrives, we’ll have run out of pleasantries. We will be silent for a little while. I’ll ask her why she wanted to have coffee. She’ll say she missed me, that she wanted to talk. I’ll tell her there’s nothing to be said that hasn’t been said before. She’ll agree, and her voice will catch, and she’ll try not to cry. She will tell me she loves me, that she wants to be there for me sexually, but she doesn’t know how to change herself. I will tell her that I love her too, that not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into my life, but unrequited physical intimacy is sufficient to destroy any relationship. She’ll tell me she knows this, but she just can’t bring herself to be physically intimate as often as I’d like. So I’ll ask her what she wants to do about this, the same problem we’ve had for years now, because something has to be done, because even though I thank God for her every day, there is also not a day that I don’t feel some level of resentment toward her for refusing to be intimate with me.
And this is where the future becomes cloudy. It’s unlikely that she’s going to tell me that a permanent separation is in order, but given the state of things, I doesn’t strike me as totally impossible, either. It’s just really improbable, because we still love each other as much as we ever have. Ashley feels like she’s not enough for me (and let’s call it like it is–she isn’t), which scares and upsets her, but she won’t do enough to amend the situation. However, that’s not enough to drive her away from me. She wants me for the rest of her life, as she so often reminds me, in the most romantic, if still asexual, manner possible.
That means, if things go badly tonight, it will most likely be my doing. And for all our problems, and despite my indiscretions, I’m not ready to say goodbye. Being away from her always reminds me just how much I need her. I acknowledge it frequently, but it’s her absence in my daily life that makes the need more palpable. When we’re together, I crave her physical touch. When we’re apart, I just crave her.
Anyhow. This was intended as more of an update, and instead evolved into some kind of inner monologue about the state of my marriage. My apologies. Also, please forgive my absence in the past couple of weeks. I just… haven’t felt up to responding to emails, comments, etc., which I hope is understandable. I’ll be back soon, hopefully with something more positive to report.