When he was my intern there was a work trip to Americus, Georgia for a Habitat for Humanity blitz build.
We both went.
On the bus, I couldn’t help but notice that our legs were touching.
Neither one of us shifted away.
On our first night in Americus, he pointed out the architectural features he liked on the town’s older homes.
I learned the words soffit, fascia and dormer.
His t-shirt was old and fraying at the neck.
My arm accidentally brushed against his stomach which was flat and firm.
It was summer time and we were all housed in a local university dorm.
We each had our own narrow cinder-block room and foamy rubber mattress.
He spent part of the evening in my room and he read aloud from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
I wished he would touch me, but he didn’t.
The next day he taught me how to swing a framing hammer.
It was hard, exhausting work.
Afterwards, some of the male volunteers peeled off their shirts and dove into a local pond.
I hoped he would join them so I could get a look at that flat, firm belly, but he didn’t.
We boarded the bus to return to the city.
This time our arms were touching. Again, neither of us shifted positions.
My husband was at the hospital working when we got back to town.
He and I went back to my apartment.
There was a sudden thunderstorm.
We opened the French doors leading to my back deck and watched.
We sat oddly at opposite ends of the couch.
Tired, I flung a couch pillow towards the middle and flopped down.
I was afraid he might leave.
I wanted to be near him.
He touched my hair then stroked my head.
I tried not to react in any way.
I didn’t want him to stop.
He reached down and held my hand.
“We’re a mess,” I mumbled.
“What?” he asked.
I took a deep breath and tried again.
“The way I feel about you is a mess.”
While driving this morning, I heard It Ain't Me, Babe by Bob Dylan on the radio.
I was overcome by feelings of dread, fear and sadness.
When I first met K, he and is roommate were in a heavy Dylan phase and I heard this song often.
When I hear it now, I am reminded of the between time.
The time when I knew my marriage was over, but hadn't ended it.
The song reminds me of the panic I felt.
The lyrics of "It Ain't Me, Babe" captured what I needed to say to my husband and, at the same time, I feared they might also be what K needed to say to me.
What was the likelihood that he was involved in the mess for anything more than the affair itself?