April 12, 2017.
“What do you mean? I don’t understand.” Her face suddenly became creased and crumpled, with deep furrows etched across it. She became very pale.
The waitress brought our food. I don’t remember what we ordered. But I remember very clearly what I had just said a few minutes earlier: “We can’t leave the country because there’s someone else” (my wife had just been offered a job abroad). Then I clarified that it was a “he”, and that it was more than just friendship, and that something inside me had died but had also been reborn. I told her his name right away.
My wife’s wide open, now wet eyes were filled with questions. Her paralyzed lips were trying to find words that could express her churning thoughts. About half a minute passed, and then my wife ran out of the restaurant. I hurriedly paid the bill and followed her. Our untouched meals were left on the table. It was January, early in the evening, dark; we were surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings. When I caught up with her, she was sobbing. Her fists were clenched. She started hitting my chest with them. She was pushing me away but at the same time – I could feel it – she wanted to embrace me.
“Now?” she stammered. “Now that I’ve finally learned to love you?!”
Our children and their babysitter were waiting for us to get home from work. I hadn’t slept much during the previous nights, so I had a headache. My constricted throat ached, and the lingering saliva that I couldn’t seem to swallow tormented me. I trembled from the cold and the extreme emotions. Cars and pedestrians were passing us. After a while, my wife, a newly-betrayed and deceived woman, shook her head in silent resignation and walked away, towards our house. I felt her sorrow and anger, which would become our faithful companions for many months, even years. A feeling of guilt kept me fixed to the pavement. All I knew was that I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, run after her and retract what I’d said a few minutes before and tell her that I’d been joking, that I’d been wrong. “Ha, I fooled you! I’m a good actor, aren’t I?”
“What do you mean you like going to the cinema with him?” That’s my father. We were sitting with him and my mother in their Mercedes in front of my house. My wife called my parents the day before, asking them for help. They came, even though they live at the opposite end of the country. The journey took them a whole day. They drove at breakneck speed because the only thing they knew was that a man had possessed my mind and that “maybe he wanted to draw me into a cult”. My mother’s mouth was dry from nervousness, so she was constantly taking sips of water from a large plastic bottle. She kept repeating that they would always be there for me, no matter what. While sitting in my parents’ car, trying to explain something to them awkwardly, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. A house, a wife, two children, 10 years of marriage… Could I be so wrong? I understood very little at that time. However, I knew deep down that this was the most important battle of my life and that despite all the chaos my confession had caused, and despite the fear that paralyzed me, I was doing the right thing and had made the right choice. I was fighting rather clumsily. I was unable to say openly, and with conviction: “I’ve found myself, I should never have had a relationship with a woman, I am gay, I have the right to love a man, the love between two men can be beautiful”.
Two years have passed. My marriage now lives only in history – it exists solely in our memories and in documents lying on a desk in a civil registry office. We still live together, but are currently in the process of settling the conditions of our divorce.
I’m convinced I did the right thing. I have no doubts about my decision, and no regrets – even though it hasn’t been easy. For many months I’ve been sleeping in our house’s basement – with only a mattress and bedding, and a new desk and chair from IKEA. The mattress suffered when the plumbing system burst in the cellar, and now it’s covered in stains, looking like a used mattress bought from a cheap motel with rooms that can be rented by the hour. I hanged a LED bedside lamp on a bar stool at the head of the mattress. There’s only cold water from the tap in my small basement bathroom. There are days when the whole basement stinks of mice. A pretty wooden staircase leads to the basement and my children, with the help of my wife, decorated its walls with colorful drawings: “so it’ll be nice for in your nook”. There’s also a fireplace and a bar down here, which I hardly notice. An advantage of being in the basement is that it’s quiet here at night.
I’m still completely devastated, and I still feel my wife’s fists hammering my chest. But my wounds are healing. I’m looking towards the future and can see both of us in it. And I have never been happier.