This guest post is more than simply thought provoking. It tells of the moment the writer crossed a line. Where lies became his reality. Told with raw honesty.
The writer wishes to remain anonymous.
I can remember the exact moment I crossed the line as if it were yesterday rather than twelve years ago, and I don’t mean the time of day, although I can remember that too – but the moment. I remember it because, to be honest, it was just so delicious, time really did seem to stand still. The crowds around us really did blur into the background. It was the moment we both knew what was going to happen and it was exciting, breathlessly so. It was also wrong. We both understood that I think, but it just didn’t matter, consequences didn’t matter. All that mattered was going back to her hotel room and spending the night together.
Oddly enough I don’t remember the sex that night, not really. Over the next seven years we’d be having a lot more sex. But we’d only ever have one moment… But we didn’t know that then.
So no, I’ve not forgotten, and nor have the people who’s lives would also change in that moment.
Life has in many ways returned to some sort of normal since, but it’s always there, unspoken now – all that needed to be said, and many things that didn’t – have been talked about over the years. But as for forgiveness… maybe I’m looking for forgiveness right now as I type these words. Maybe I’m hoping the words I write now will justify things, but no, not even to myself.
My tale is no different from the cliched story of so many others after all, on the face of it, it was just another shitty little mid-life crisis, a man in his forties falling for someone seventeen years his junior.
The question I’ve asked myself many times since is – was it all worth it? Was the hurt caused really worth the affair? Would I do it all over again? Go through it all again? What would I do, knowing what I now know, if I could go back in time to that moment?
We’d met online, a chat site for a football team we both followed and over the course of a year discovered we had so much more in common than just football. A passion for the same obscure indie music bands, the same books, the same politics – she’d had some life for someone so young. Born in eastern Europe, travelled extensively and joyously around the world before settling in South Africa, married & widowed, all before turning 27…
It was a genuine friendship, no doubt about that, no flirting, just companionship, talking every single day, sharing and caring. We knew each other’s routine, shared our work life, got to know about each other’s friends, our lives. When our team were playing we’d text each other constantly from opposite sides of the globe, but in more or less the same time zone.
Maybe it was the distance between us, it all seemed so very innocent, no harm. But then she told me she was coming to London for the last game of the season and it was just so obvious that we’d meet up. I forget who we were playing now of course. Not an important detail in the scheme of things, but I do remember waiting in the foyer of the hotel she was staying in. I remember the first time she walked into view. We’d shared photographs of course, I knew exactly what she looked like, but my breath was taken away by seeing her for the first time. She moved with such cat-like grace. Her limbs were long and elegant, she was assured, confident, she laughed easily and often and it was just so infectious, she sparkled. I’d found her attractive in her pics, but in the flesh she was captivating, not a classical beauty in the usual sense, but from every angle, her every movement, I couldn’t take my eyes from her.
We chatted so naturally, we knew each other so well already, I remember reluctantly leaving for the game, we were sitting on opposite sides of the ground, and not really watching, wanting the game to be over so we could meet up again.
And it was after the game that the moment happened. We’d gone for drinks in my usual post-game pub, with the same boisterous crowd I knew from the chat site. But today it was different, we kept finding each other’s eye as we moved from group to group, shared smiles as we found ourselves standing close to each other, I found myself listening for her laugh if I lost sight of her.
Finally, we had time to ourselves standing together outside the pub. I’d already missed my usual train home, I’d have to leave soon if I wanted to catch the last train. It was time to say goodbye.
I often wonder what would have happened if I’d just said goodbye then. If she hadn’t looked at me the way she did at that moment …
Three months later she’d packed up her old life in South Africa and moved to the UK to start again. Over the next seven years we’d spend a lot of time together. I’ve always been self-employed and my work meant I could have a ready excuse for overnight stays. The lies became easier and more frequent. Together we made some great memories, went to many gigs together, theatre trips, comedy clubs, restaurants, museums, we’d go to Paris, book cottages on the coast for whole weekends.
Couldn’t last, right? Yes, you’d be right, it couldn’t. Being the ‘other woman’ was OK for a while I think. No pressure, just enjoying each other’s company, having fun. She was building a new life, for herself, starting afresh, making friends, forging a new career. Lots going on, of which I was just a part. But the going home afterwards was increasingly becoming an issue, causing upset, a cloud hanging over the time we were spending together. I was never asked to leave my family. She told me much later, when the affair had ended, that it was just too big a thing to ask.
By the time I told my wife of the affair, it was all but over. Odd timing you’d think, and I can’t argue about that. Looking back now, I feel it was to do with the guilt of deceiving someone I still loved, (there’s a whole book in me trying to explain that.) A feeling that she ‘deserved’ to know and I didn’t deserve to get away with it. Yeah, makes no sense to me now either, what did I expect? That it would somehow put a line under the affair so I could move on? That I’d be forgiven? Which would somehow absolve me of the betrayal. The second I told her I knew it was a mistake. That look of pain and hurt in her eyes is another moment I’ll never forget.
And I knew my wife wouldn’t either.
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