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This is a work of fiction based on a true story....
Nightmares plagued my sleep, dreams where Mark said we would never work out because he wanted a biological child. In one dream he said he'd never loved me, but just acted like it to have a kid. I saw the same scenario a million times: Mark wanting a kid. I could have retaliated, but in each dream, I simply absorbed his words, then tearfully walked away.
In other dreams, I'd run to meet the Schmuck, to tell him I hated him and my terrible luck with men. But instead of The Schmuck, his wife waited, her beautiful face twisted into a havalina grin as she saw me open my van's door.
The next morning, I woke up nearly shaking. After brushing a hand through my tangled hair, I told myself to get my act together and make a quick breakfast. My kids' dad had decided to take them for the next couple of days. As I fried egg after egg, and buttered all eight pieces of toast—even as I helped my kids into my ex-husband's truck—I couldn't shake my dreams.
Right after my kids left, I texted Mark.
I'm leaving for a couple of days.
I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong.
Are you okay?
There's a lot on my mind.
Does this have anything to do with The Schmuck.
Some of it does. But mostly…
I don't think you and I are going to work out.
We're dragging each other along,
when we both have different goals.
Gina! I love you.
I love you too, but we need to be honest here.
If we're going to break up, it's better sooner than later.
I'm leaving. I'll talk to you in a couple of days, okay?
This'll give us both time to think.
I love you.
I love you back.
Then I jumped into my van and, on the spur of the moment, drove several hundreds of miles just to see one of the people I respect most in the world.
It was quite late when I pulled up to her house. The woman is out of a fairytale, sweet and kind. She lives in a quaint house that feels like pure sunshine. She serves tea that would sate the gods themselves. When she opened her screen door, a look of pure surprise, and then happiness, lit up her features.
"Gina! What in the world are you doing here?" she asked.
"I need some advice…AND some tea."
She whisked me into the kitchen. She'd apparently been making scones, so I snagged one from the counter and grinned at her while taking a bite.
We sat across from one-another. I ate like crazy as she eyed me suspiciously.
"What?" I asked through a mouthful of food. She just chuckled and shook her head.
"All those miles. This is sure to be good."
After I'd finished eating, we both sipped at our teas, neither one of us saying a word for quite some time.
"So, come on. What brought you here?"
"I'm confused. I wanted to ask you a question. If you could give someone one bit of advice about love, what would it be?" I asked. She's awfully smart, been alive for over seven decades. I hoped she'd have something good to say.
"Gina, don't tell me this about The Schmuck again?"
"Kind of," I admitted. "It's about how scared I am." I told her all about The Schmuck's recent texts, about my plan to meet him, about the romance with Mark, and Mark's desire to have a baby.
"Well, how do you really feel about Mark?" she asked.
"I know I love him," I said. "But it's a different kind of love. It isn't always scary or exciting like I've always known love to be. Sometimes it's quiet and peaceful. It's not intense, not at all… But I know I'd do nearly anything for that man."
She nodded. "First off. I don't know why you want to meet The Schmuck in person. I hear what you're saying, that he'll only leave you alone if you tell him goodbye in person. But part of me wonders if you want closure? Are you worried you might feel something when you see him?"
"Maybe. It's been so long. I don't know what I really think about the situation; it's just too far inside of me, buried under all of the pain. Maybe I just want to know how he was able to hurt me so badly. Will I see him differently, and see how silly the whole thing was, how he dated me while he was married?"
"And his wife, why forward anything to her. She isn't listening to anything you say."
"I feel bad for her, to be stuck with him. But honestly, I envy her a little. I can't ever make anyone happy, really. I try so hard, but it never seems to be enough. I tried my very hardest in my marriage. I tried being perfect for The Schmuck and he lied to me the whole time. Now I'm finally being myself with Mark, and that's still not enough because I can't give him a baby." Some tears came to my eyes and she handed me a napkin. "The Schmuck's wife seems to be good enough for someone. She obviously makes The Schmuck happy because he's with her. I wish I could be enough for someone someday."
"Anyone would be more than enough for that man," she mumbled.
"Nothing," she covered. "It's just that who's to say they're really all that happy? And good for them if they are. I'm just glad you're not in that mess anymore. This Mark fellow, he sounds like a good man. I'd much rather talk about your boyfriend's need for a baby, than your boyfriend's…hidden marriage."
I couldn’t help but laugh, as she took a sip of her tea.
"You asked me if I have any advice about love."
"Well, I'm getting older now. I've never really been in love, but I have seen a lot of love. All I can think to tell you is what my mother told me. Each morning before we went to school, no matter how much my brother and I had fought, no matter what was said, before we left the house, we always told our mother that we loved her. She'd hug us and say, 'I never want you to leave this house angry. I always want you to know how much I love you.' And that was a wonderful lesson to teach me, that we should appreciate love for as long as we have it."
After finishing our tea, we played Rummikub and spoke lightly until it was time to go to bed. I stayed the night, then began the long drive home the next morning. And the whole time I drove, I thought of her words: "appreciate love for as long as we have it."
As the day passed and the sun eventually descended into the mountainous horizon, I pulled into my driveway.
Sitting on my doorstep was something brilliant and bright. I ran up the concrete stairs, and wondered over the beauty of the flower arrangement on my porch.
Who would send something like this? I opened the front door before fumbling to read the card.
When I met you, your smile made my whole heart warm, your laugh made my whole being smile, you were so genuine and honest and full of life it seemed to overflow to the people you talked to. I felt like I had found the one person that I could completely connect with, have fun with to no limitation, and could conquer anything with. ...AND you are gorgeous along with it. I hoped at one point in time that you would end up with me... I had wanted, so many times, to tell you how much I love you, but who was I to tell you that I thought we belonged together?
I completely fell in love you that first week... it was the best week of my life! I honestly felt like I knew that I wanted to spend my entire life loving you, and showing you that love... I was just scared that it wouldn't work out. But I felt that love so strong it seemed like anything was possible and nothing could kick us down. I've loved every bit of our time together and will always look back on it as the best of my life.
I only want to understand and want an open and honest relationship with each other...
I love you with all my heart. I just want you to be happy.
I couldn't tell if this was a break-up or a make-up, but I loved every bit of his letter.
This love wasn't a roller-coaster, but it could be wonderful just the same, like loving a dear friend who was brilliant, sexy, and fun. I brought a flower into my bedroom, then smelled it for the longest time. I closed my eyes and thought of Mark, remembering his strong arms, and his gentle voice. I was in the middle of reminiscing, when my phone dinged with a text message.
I ran over to it, just hoping it was Mark, saying he wasn't breaking up with me. But instead, the number surprised me. It was from a mutual friend of mine and The Schmuck.
Are you still planning on meeting The Schmuck,
to say goodbye?
I thought for a moment. Maybe I shouldn't see The Schmuck after all? Maybe he would just leave me alone. Maybe I could keep dating Mark, appreciating what we had until the very last second. Or possibly, I should go on with the planned course. After all, Mark had even said I should tell The Schmuck goodbye once and for all—cut ties and be strong.
I texted back.
What are you doing tonight?
Well, I'd planned on relaxing.
I just got back from a six-hour drive.
Will you go talk with me?
A hockey game.
LOL! Seriously? Tonight?
Yes. Please, Gina.
There's something I need to tell you
before you meet with The Schmuck.
I think you have a good thing going with this Mark guy.
There are some things you need to know
before you mess everything up.
I'm not going to mess anything up.
See you in 10 minutes? I'll pick you up?
!>oo<! Okay…. See you in 10.
I threw on my coat, and waited for one of The Schmuck's closest friends to come pick me up. What in the world did he need to tell me? And why was he acting like it was such an emergency?
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