Friday, August 15, 2008

The Mess

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?


Shannon said...

These stories are mesmerizing.

Jerri Ann said...

I love capture them wonderfully too!

QT said...

Tough emotions to work through, but so, so worth it...

TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre said...

I think I just realized what you're saying in the story. Why did I not know that before?

I know that feeling SO well. That "what are we doing. This is not okay. But..." feeling. I gave him up.

I love the way you make me feel the emotions. Then again, they are part of me.

carrie said...

And what a fine mess it turned out to be.

Domestic Extraordinaire said...


flutter said...

sounds more like a blessing. I am sorry your love had to come about this way

Vodka Mom said...

i've been waiting for this chapter. Wait- let me get my martini!

Magpie said...

Fascinating...but you got the right one.

Mr Farty said...

And you don't know if it's a good mess or a bad mess until you take the leap. Wow indeed.

Momo Fali said...

I could feel the tension. My husband and I met in a similar way...we both worked for my boyfriend (of seven years) when we met and fell in love. This reminded me so much of those times.

Anissa Mayhew said...

You have an amazing gift to say so much through so few words. You just seem to handpick them in a way that is a boot to the heart.

motherbumper said...

Woah. In between time sounds very confusing - very very confusing.

Above Average Joe said...

At times I try to tell myself similar things, that Mrs. Joe isnt the one. It is so difficult to accept but parts of me just want us both to be happy, together or not.

A mess it is.

that girl (shelly) said...

you weave a good tale. very brave to share it all with us, thank you...

JCK said...

So glad I had had my JackO'Clock before I read this story. Neither one of us shifted away...

Isn't it strange to think if this hadn't happened and your children wouldn't be here? Unimaginable, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

I have my own mess. It's just hard. But you made it through, it gives me hope. Thanks Jess.

mamatulip said...

You really put these memories down beautifully.

GoteeMan said...

you have an amazing way with words... all I can say is WOW!


Mrs. Chicken said...

I can't imagine the torment you must have felt.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I have a dear friend who went through a similar situation. She has some regret about how things went down....but in the end, they are both better off not being together.

I think sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourself!

Abbynormal said...

You need to write a novel. I will buy at least ten.

How DID you know?

I'm in the first year... is that just what it is? Bad first yearness? Or is the such hard time I'm having a way of telling me I done effed up? I need your wisdom!

Not Hannah said...

Lawsy, you are SUCH a frickin' writer.

MommyCosm said...


That's all I can say without incriminating myself.

You are a brave, brave woman. First for taking the dive off the deep end. Second for sharing your memories and feelings surrounding that time.


jeanie said...

I am sure there are moments when we all wish that life offered simple options - I am so glad your messy option came through okay.

blue milk said...

Oh you have some delicious memories here, the messy ones usually are I suppose.

zellmer said...

I relate to this story in ways I could never admit to the internet. I'm so jealous that you can. You write it so beautifully. Are you considering a book? It seems like great book material. Just sayin'.