Our finances were a mess, and until that was sorted out, leaving Tom now was a losing proposition. I would be packing up my clothes, having a garage sale, and beginning my life over again at 47 with nothing. That was not happening. I didn’t put up with his shit and work my ass off for the past 20 years to be homeless, in debt, and single. I needed a plan and I needed to keep my mouth shut until my plan was put into action.
Staying out of sight of the security cameras, I retraced my tracks back to where I’d left my car and sat for a good twenty minutes, just drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, and thinking. I could not face Tom tonight. I would crumble and confess what I knew. I needed to keep this information between me, myself, and I.
Pulling out my cell phone I pushed his number and left a text message, ‘Hi, Hun, the nursing home called tonight about Mom. She’s having a bad time, so I’ll be spending the night with her. Sorry- love you. Tanya.’
Good. Now all I had to do was find a motel that wouldn’t blink twice at my weird get-up. I needed an anonymous place to get my thoughts in order before I screwed this up royally.
20 years, I thought bitterly. 20 years of always listening to this jackass and doing everything he thought was best for us. Good grief. What the hell was wrong with me? Our house had already been mortgaged a second time and once again we were looking at another bankruptcy, with our debts piling up even worse than before.
“I need a new car. I can’t be driving around a piece of shit to client’s businesses”’, he had explained to me like I was a toddler, incapable of making sense of the grown-up world of business.
I had folded, thinking he knew best. After all, I was just a substitute teacher in an elementary school. What did I know? What I knew was we couldn’t afford to live his lie. He was the only one who couldn’t see it. A country club membership with golf games every weekend. Dinners at the club that we paid for with an already over-extended credit card, which the bank was one payment away from snatching from us. His pricey suits and Italian shoes. He was able to impress Miss “I’m getting a raise.” I guess that was worth it to him.
Now we were in a world of financial hurt and if I left him now, I’d be leaving with the clothes on my back unless the credit cards took those back too. Hey, maybe I could get a job on a street corner? Or not. Who wanted to pay for sex with a 47-year-old woman who was going gray and had put on an extra two dress sizes during the pandemic?
Tom didn’t even want this for free.
I checked on my phone for motels in the area and found three that looked promising. The closest one was the ‘Rest Inn’. It was five minutes away from my location, so I drove past it, quickly. Ugh. Nope. Not while I still had working credit cards.
The next motel was even scarier looking, so I opted for the Homewood Suites on the other side of town. At least it would be clean and safe. The night clerk barely looked at me, or my odd wardrobe. In the morning I would stop in to look in on my mother and snag a few of her slacks and blouses to get me through until I could sneak back and get my clothes while Tom was at work.
My next planned substitute day was on Thursday, so that gave me two days to get some of my ducks in a row. I had a gun now, so I could shoot those ducks too if I chose. I’d push going home off as long as I wanted and Tom would never be the wiser, nor would he care. My mother had frequent emergencies when she could not remember where she was or who the people around her were. Much of my time was taken up at the nursing home, keeping her grounded.
The book club didn’t meet again until next Monday, so most of my obligations were taken care of. I’d just stay at the Homewood Suites until this card was maxed out. There was a Denny’s all-night restaurant down the road from the hotel, so I stopped there and ignored the strange looks my classy clothing got from the staff.
While eating my early breakfast it dawned on me that I could do whatever I wanted to. An invisible spirit floating above my reality. Is this what freedom felt like after 20 years of being joined at the ring finger to a man-baby? Always being there for his convenience, doing his laundry, cooking, dishes, and cleaning up after him while he whined about all the hard work and hours he was putting into his career, ‘for us’.
A weight lifted off my chest when it sunk in that my only responsibilities unless I chose otherwise, would be to myself and my mother. No more insufferable golf games to make up a foursome, with him nagging and criticizing every freakin’ swing and complaining that if he wasn’t stuck with me, he would have won. No more late evenings and early mornings prepping for the work bar-b-ques, which he Insisted always be held at our house. He would tell me what to prepare and I would dutifully create these monstrous salads, dips, and snacks for his beer-guzzling office homies and their mistresses of the month or spoiled wives, whom I had absolutely nothing in common with. It seemed as though once everything was served, there was simply no reason for me to stick around, as no one even noticed if I stayed or left. Not even Tom. Not that I was a perfect person, remembering one time when I was particularly annoyed with having to cook for hours for people I could barely stand to be near. So annoyed that I spit into the onion dip as I was mixing it up. Spit, spat, sput? I’m not sure which of those apply. But yes, they were enjoying it, thinking that double-dipping was their only problem.
Without his slave to cook up his bar-b-q side dishes I wondered if he would try to return his Grille-Boss-5000 and get his money back. Money, which he would need for the divorce lawyer, I thought, giggling over the Eggs over My Hammy and coffee, hoping this chef wasn’t as evil as I was.
Of course, I could follow the mirror’s good advice and just torture him for the next thirty or so years instead of divorcing him. Then, again, as I ruminated over the last twenty years, and the imbalance of our relationship, perhaps things were never as rosy as they had seemed. Had mom’s progressing dementia become such a focus in my life that I missed the signs of a failing marriage?
Just for fun I whipped out a pen from my purse and grabbed a napkin to make a list of all the things that annoyed me, hurt me, or generally pissed me off about our marriage.
1. Tom’s ridiculous money philosophies
2. His peacockery- fancy clothes, haircuts, etc.
3. His ridicule and disrespect
4. Having to wait on his useless work pals and their sluts
5. God damned golf. I hated it. Always have and always will.
6. He never asked me how my day went while he bored me to death with tales from the dullest job on earth- insurance broker...zzzzz
7. His snipes about my weight, hair, lack of phony eyelashes, crazy painted-on eyebrows, and makeup.
8. Nothing I ever did was quite good enough for him.
9. He hasn’t visited Mom since she went into the nursing home over a year ago. He couldn’t even pretend to care.
10. How he bitched at me about literally everything.
11. Lastly, why am I just noticing these things now? WTF is wrong with me?
Oh, God. I’m a crazy woman, I almost said out loud as I reviewed my scribbled observations on the wrinkled napkin. I’ve been living like a hunk of dog shit being dragged around on someone’s shoe for the past twenty years and didn’t know it. It’s not like Tom all of a sudden turned into a selfish, foolish slob. How could I have played dumb all these years?
Maybe I was too caught up in caring for my mother, working as many hours as I could get at the school, all my volunteer work, and keeping up with my book club to notice who I was married to. That probably happens to many women my age. Feeling comfortable, not wanting to look too deeply into our marriages. Settling for what we had so we wouldn’t rock the boat. As I was now finding out, rocking the boat had to be done carefully because there was always a chance you were going to end up in the drink with your spouse.
After several more reviews of my list of ‘cons’, and a trip to the ladies’ room to empty my bladder of leftover wine and a carafe and a half of coffee, I drove across the parking lot to the hotel. Hardly any cars in the parking lot assured me there would be a room at the Inn for me tonight. Leaving Tom’s ripped-up, oversized hoodie in the car, I quickly ran through the dark, spooky parking lot and into the well-lit lobby.
Handing over my license and credit card I asked for a suite with a kitchenette for a week. The clerk took down the information and ran the card, never mentioning that the address on my license said I lived about ten miles away. A sale is a sale is a sale, I suppose.