I was just mashing up my dog B’s food. She has allergies so I have to cook for her every other day. She loves to watch and sits in the same position just outside of the kitchen door, sniffing the air. Tonight I had to just stop and look at her for a moment. She has such sweet eyes. My mom swears she and my other dog J talk to us. Tonight, B’s eyes were saying, “Thank you Mommy for cooking for me. I know it’s a giant pain in the ass.” But considering I haven’t been hitting the weights, cooking for a Saint Bernard, is like a workout, so it’s not as bad as she thinks.
Anyway, I was struck by one of those moments… the ones where I actually talk out loud to her and swear she understands. I spoke to my dog R, all the time. She was my first dog, and died three years ago. The most painful experience I’ve allowed myself to fully emotionally experience in my life. She was 10, which is old for the largest breed dog, of dog, but it wasn’t her age, it was Cancer. Tonight as I looked into B’s big brown eyes, watching me lovingly (or perhaps hoping some sweet potato concoction would fall on the floor, but I’d like to think the former), I asked her if R had ever visited her. It was a weird question, but even weirder, was that my eyes watered up as soon as the words rolled off my tongue. My nose started to run and I realized I was crying because I’d asked my 3-year-old dog if the ghost of my first dog had ever visited her.
I chose to write about this because it amazes me how much easier dogs get into my heart than men. I suppose now would be a good time to introduce you to my ex-fiance. We lived together for 7 years, the last two of the seven we were engaged. Every time he broached the subject of an actual wedding, I had a panic attack and threw up, so after a few months he stopped asking. Of course after a year every one of my friends and family started asking. They wanted to know what the point of being engaged was, if I wasn’t going to plan a wedding.
The truth is, I didn’t plan on being engaged. He completely surprised me. And being a romantic comedy girl, he set it up just like a scene out of my favorite movie, from Pretty Woman. When he proposed, I cried. I cried… to stall. In a matter of seconds, the thoughts that went through my head were: 1. Shit! I didn’t see this coming 2. I don’t want to get married 3. He’s waiting for an answer 4. If I don’t say yes, and I do eventually marry him, I’ll have ruined this perfect moment.
And so I said yes. Then he whisked me downstairs (we were in a suite at the Ritz Carlton) to a surprise engagement party where he had invited a group of our closest friends… except one of my best friends, the one friend who I’d known the longest since I’d moved out here. When I didn’t see her there, I figured she and her husband couldn’t make it that night, but according to my sister, he’d forgotten to invite her. How do you point out a huge blunder to a guy who’s trying to make you the happiest girl in the world? Anyway, I ate my dinner in a blur, said my goodnights to everyone, went back to the suite, got into bed, and as soon as I heard him snoring, had a panic attack and threw up my whole dinner. That REALLY should have been a red flag. I mean I hadn’t thrown up since I was 5 and my cousin Lon, who was 7, challenged me to an oatmeal eating contest, which apparently he let me win, because Lon didn’t lose at anything. When I woke up at 3 am in a puddle of oatmeal vomit on my sunflower nightie, I knew he’d “won” again! But I digress…
I knew he wasn’t the right guy for me from year one, but I was in total denial. I wanted to make it work… because of the palm reader (I’ll save that story for another entry or this one will never end). So, I tried to make it work. Even when I found out he was “sexting” with his ex-girlfriend from college who lived in New Jersey with her husband and three kids. I was willing to let it go, if he was willing to work on his “intimacy” issues with me. He said he’d do anything to regain my trust and that he’d never have anything to do with her again.
Three weeks later he was headed to New York for our college homecoming (yes I went to college with him and knew his ex). The power of intuition is an amazing thing. The night he was leaving we were sitting, having a normal conversation when out of no where I said to him, that if he cheated on me, it would be over. I wouldn’t give him a second chance, I wouldn’t let him explain, we would be done. He told me that I was being ridiculous, that not only was I the love of his life and he would never cheat on me, but that he especially wouldn’t cheat on me with a crazy person like her, and that I had to trust him. I told him I would trust him, but I wanted it to be perfectly clear… there would be no second chances.
Later, when I dropped him off for his red-eye flight, he said that he wasn’t feeling well. I told him it was normal because he hadn’t been sleeping well. But my unconscious knew better. That night I dreamt I was moving him out of my house. I woke the next morning so angry at him, and couldn’t figure out why the dream bothered me so much. Two days later it hit me… in the 7 years we were together, he never admitted to not feeling well. He would declare that he was a “super hero” and couldn’t get sick. Even when he was sick as a dog, and I’d tell him to rest, he’d say he was fine. YET, two nights before he said the words “I don’t feel well.”
The next day, he was driving back to his parent’s house in NY from Rochester where he had a business meeting, and called me. He said he didn’t feel well and was going to pull his car over to sleep for a little while. I immediately knew something was wrong, but I had a meeting, so I forgot about it. Three hours later I called him. After another hour I called and texted him 9-1-1, but didn’t hear back. It was 4 1/2 hours since his initial call. My intuition was going crazy!!!
I decided to call his parent’s house. His mother was taking a nap, so his father informed me that my ex was sick and checked into a motel in Rochester to “sleep it off.” I hung up the phone but I was not done. We share a computer so I went to his side and checked his emails (this is the part where I tell you when I first found the “sexts” he gave me permission to do whatever I needed to do to regain his trust, which included checking his emails, since she wrote to him.)
At first there was nothing. Nothing in the inbox. Nothing in the sent. Nothing in the trash. I decided I was making myself crazy and I should just calm down, when something made me check his trash again.. and there it was. I have NO idea why it wasn’t there minutes before, all I can say is “Someone” was looking out for me. Most people would have missed it, after all, with all of the junk we get from advertisers, why should I have even noticed. It was a typical email from a hotel spa & resort about their special of the month. Nothing odd about it EXCEPT that it was forwarded to him.
My intuition screamed, “Check if that hotel chain has a resort in New Jersey!” I did, and sure enough, there was one 37 minutes from her house. Yes, I knew exactly where she lived and a whole lot more about her after doing my research upon waking from my bad dream a few nights before. Suddenly an email that I had found in his trash 2 weeks before from “firstname.lastname@example.org” (I felt like writing back to her from “I’mNotAnIdiot@mac.com” and telling her to stay the heck away from my fiance and focus on her husband and kids, but I didn’t) made total sense. When I had confronted him about the email, that said, “I can’t reach you on your Blackberry, you’ve blocked me on Facebook, you have to get in touch with me! I have to know what’s going on. This changes everything,” he claimed it didn’t make sense to him either, that we both knew she was crazy.
But now it made sense. It ALL made sense. “IT CHANGED EVERYTHING” because as a mother of three, she had to lie to her husband and get her kids taken care of if she was going to meet my ex for a rendez-vous at the resort. And of course that’s why he told me he didn’t feel well before he got on the plane, so he could pretend to be sick all weekend stranded in a motel in Rochester.
There was only one thing to do… call the hotel and ask for his room. My heart was pounding as the phone rang. When the perky registration clerk answered the phone and I asked for his room, she asked me to hold. It was taking a pretty long time, and I was beginning to think I was crazy again, especially when she came back and said that there was no one by that name staying there, for a second I was relieved, then I decided to spell his last name for her. Oops, she’d misspelled it, “One moment please,” she said as she put me through to his room. I waited in shock as it rang. No one picked up. She came back on and asked if I wanted to leave a message. I asked if there was any other way to reach him, it was an emergency. She said she could try the other phone in his suite. “The other phone?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied in a snooty tone, as if I’d never been to a luxury hotel which had two phones in the room. She tried the other phone but he didn’t pick up. I hung up, hyperventilated for a few minutes, then called my sister who worked across the street from my house.
Sister was in my bedroom five minutes later, dialing the hotel. She asked for his room, she was put through, it rang and rang. She hung up. I told her to call back, I had to know how long the reservation was for. Sister was put through to his room again and when he didn’t answer and Perky Clerk came back on, Sister asked how long he was scheduled to stay. Perky Clerk said she couldn’t give out that information. Sister raised her voice and told “Perky” this was a family emergency. Just then, Perky Girl’s other line rang, and keeping Sister in one ear answered the other phone saying, “Yes, Mr Ex, I was trying to put a call through to your room, you’ve been getting a lot of calls this evening.” Perky Girl girl came back to Sister and asked if she could tell him who was calling. Sister covered the phone and in a loud whisper asked, “Who should I say I am?!” I blurted out his mother’s name. Sister repeated it, and when Perky Girl asked if he would know who she was, Sister yelled, “I’m his mother!” and hung up and yelled “THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE!” and got on the phone and called Best Friend, who immediately drove over with her boyfriend at the time. Sister got on the internet to look up locksmiths, while I called ADT and changed my alarm code. Best Friend arrived and Sister and BF’s Boyfriend went to Whole Foods to get boxes (all the guys who work at Whole Foods have a crush on Sister and know exactly what kind of cereal she eats and the protein bars she likes), so when she got there and asked for boxes, one of her buddies asked her how many boxes she needed. She asked him how many boxes it takes to get a cheating asshole out of your house. He told her she was going to need a lot of boxes.
In less than 5 hours, we had the alarm code changed, the locks changed, and all of his stuff packed up in boxes, and driven away by his two friends, who luckily had enough room in their Tahoe and Landrover, to get him the heck out of my life! I haven’t seen him since. That was two years ago this past October.
Now here’s why I told you this long-winded story. The point, that you’ve so patiently waited for (thank you for hanging in there), is that I never cried over him. I think of him, and I’m not the least bit sad. In fact, I’m grateful to him for snapping me out of the stagnant life I’d gotten stuck in. YET, I look at a picture of my dog R, or touch her box of ashes, or see another Mastiff, and I cry. And now, B is curled up next to me snoring, running in her sleep, and looking at her makes my heart hurt with love. Don’t get me wrong, a dog can’t take the place of a man, they’re just so much easier to love!
ps: I found out after we broke up, that even though HE invited everyone to our engagement dinner at the Ritz Carlton, he had the nerve to ask everybody to chip in and pay for it! Needless to say, I’m mortified. Don’t invite people to a party that you can’t pay for unless you tell them beforehand. One of my friends hadn’t even brought money and had to borrow from my sister. I mean!