I am sitting in an airport waiting for a three-hour delayed flight back to America. This past week spent in Iceland is the first week I have spent without talking to my him in about three months.
The thing about Iceland is that it’s so empty. Miles and miles and miles of open land, massive mountains, countless waterfalls for the whole week kept reminding me of how small I am in front of this wide and extensive world. And that’s the thing about living in a big world, there are so many people living in it with you. Very few of this people we already know, just as few we will meet, and most of them will never even cross our paths.
So then how come that we end up falling for the ones that are already taken?
I’m 25. I’m smart and very funny, to be honest, I’m strong and hard working, I’m fun to be around but also very responsible when it comes to my own life, many would say I’m a catch. So why am I sitting here thinking about how much I miss the married man that has become my best friend and greatest support throughout the past three months?
Why him? Why me? Why us?
If you have ever loved a man who had a family of his own, you must have asked yourself the same questions. Because unless you are fully heartless and rootless, you must have had the same constant feeling of guilt and regret that I had slowly gotten used to having.
All of a sudden, the responsible, morally firm, ethically correct young woman I used to be could not stop smiling at this man’s text messages. Because he is funny, and he gets me, because he is the first and only man who has ever been able to take all of me, the interesting, entertaining, go-with-the-flow me and the anxious, slightly depressed, mostly scared shitless me as well, the sensitive me and the aggressive and opinionated me, the cute me and the sexy me, the chatty me and the I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it me.
He takes it and makes lemonade with it, or sangria maybe, something magical and a bit paralyzing, something no one has ever been able to do before him. So I suppose if one were to ask me why him, this is what I would say.
I would say because no one has ever made it so easy to love as him and no one has ever made me so easy to love.
The thing is I’m responsible but also very romantic: I believe in love, maybe because I was not raised with parents that knew real love, but I love to believe that there is such thing as real love out there. Loud but soft, sexual but friendly, sweet but strong, that kind of love that changes through time and age but remains true.
So one day when I walked into a coffee shop, lost and lonely as I have ever been, and met a married man, I did not think much of it. But when that man held my hand throughout the next few weeks of fear and suffering and desperate attempts to numb all the feelings, when he dragged me out to keep me busy and distracted, when he checked on me and always made sure I was doing okay, when he made me laugh, a lot, often, genuinely, when he kissed me…then I thought “this must be love.”
I cannot say for sure, but I think he felt the same way.
When he left to go back to his family overseas, I was relieved. I thought him being so far away would mean “us” being “over.” Until the calls started, 10 minutes, 20, 30, 40, then an hour…we talked and talked, we shared, we told, we asked: school, work, children, food, travel, animals, friends, we talked about anything and everything.
Being far was suddenly not even an issue, it almost made it better because all we could do was talk and talking did not make me feel guilty. Then he sort of inferred in the passing that I was his mistress. I don’t know how or why but unknowingly he did and I felt a crack.
My heart broke a little and the glass bubble in which we had been hiding shattered in a million sharp tiny pieces.
I was forced to face reality: we were a secret, we were not allowed, I was a mistress, he was a cheater.
That day I asked that he stop calling me, that day I promised myself I would stop looking for him in all the little things of my day.
Since that day he called and texted and asked and pushed and fought my decision, the way I wished so many times that other men would fight for me, but never did. He told me he missed me and that I was his best friend, he said that he wanted all the very best for me and was only asking to be a part of my life for now, until we could still be whatever we were. His honesty was always disarming because in his real life honest is the last thing that he is, but with me he was open, truthful, as if he found in me the one person who saw how fucked up he really was so there was no point in lying.
Three weeks later, I left for Iceland. I did not pick up the phone the first time he called, I did not text back, I did not pick up the phone the second time he called, he stopped calling. I finally spent a week without hearing his voice for the first time in three months and it felt somewhat disorienting because we call each other “stella cometa” which is the Italian for “guiding star” and without his voice I had to remember how to choose the direction of my days on my own.
I missed him, at first very little, then more, now I miss him so much I am terrified to go back to America where I will have no excuse to ignore the calls, where I will have no choice but to see him in a month.
My dad cheated on my mom. I read the messages between him and the other woman, they were sexual, they were disturbing, they scarred. They were not like ours. But whenever I think of my guiding star, I think of my dad, I think of my pain as I read those messages, my pain as I watched my mom cry, I think of how I lost hope that there was a thing called true love for a long time.
But when I hear his voice, I think of the warmest and most comfortable place: my hand in his hand.
People love to say that cheaters are the worst kind of people, that women who go with married men will be punished, that mistresses are whores.
I sat in an Uber a few weeks ago and listened to a full conversation about how Khloe Kardashian deserves to be publicly shamed by Tristan Thompson because she “stole” him from his first baby mama. “How you get them is how you lose them” was the general theme of my Uber ride. But who are you people to judge? I read messages sent from my own father to his mistress. I was 17. I cried and screamed and went numb for a long time. I never planned on being a mistress myself. But sometimes, even though the world is so big, we walk into a tiny coffee shop and meet the truest love we have ever found.
And that is how I am going to remember him, remember this, remember us.