It’s hard for me to believe, that in the short span of time it took for the traffic light to turn green, my whole life was altered.
But that is what happened.
It was the thunder that woke me this morning. And then a memory that resurfaces from time to time.
It was well over three years ago. I was driving my car, sitting on the inside lane going south. Just a block from home. The traffic light was red.
All The Secrets:
And suddenly the many secrets just came spilling out of him.
It wasn’t that he felt guilty. Or felt compelled to come clean. It seemed more like it was gratifying for him to hear the words said out loud. And maybe to see my reaction to them.
I kept my eye fixed on the red light, trying to get my bearings. Trying to take in all that he was telling me.
My mind bounced from one thing he said to another. In and out of sequence.
A Distant Memory Surfaces:
It was then that I remembered, not very long ago, a man from out of town had been sitting at this very light. Driving in the opposite direction.
I was told his childhood home had been just a little way down on the other side of the road. Before they tore it down and businesses took over. And then the street became a six-lane highway.
This faceless man was waiting for the light to turn green that day. Then suddenly a woman high on some kind of drugs came barreling over the hill and hit him from behind.
That man’s life abruptly ended for no reason at all. Except that someone selfishly chose to get high and drive a car when they shouldn’t have.
When The Light Turned Green:
The light turn green and I put my foot on the gas and accelerated.
Less than a minute later I pushed the mechanism that lifts the garage door. Just like I’d done hundreds of times before. I pulled into one side of the garage and managed by some miracle not to hit the wall.
I got out and rushed ahead of him to my gardens where I could be alone to think. Because I could not bear to look at him. I don’t think I ever looked straight at him ever again.
For weeks I cried. Sitting out there in my pretty spot under the pavilion while watching the pond water circulate. Just staring at my beautiful gardens. Knowing I would have to leave them.
After what happened that day, there was no way I could stay. No way at all.
Just an hour before that day at the traffic light, my life had been far from anything resembling happy. But it had not been shattered into a million pieces as it was after that light turned green.
Just An Ordinary Day:
I have always wondered why he chose that moment to tell me his secrets. Just out of the blue after a weekend lunch at a restaurant. On an otherwise ordinary day.
It wasn’t like the fault lines weren’t already apparent and had been for quite some time.
But oftentimes you try to lull yourself into complacency so you can enjoy the small things in life just a little longer. Before you have to make huge decisions that will forever alter it.
That decision would be that I would have to leave the home and gardens that I loved. Because what he had said meant I could no longer live with him.
Deciding When To Leave:
It didn’t happen overnight, my leaving one life to begin another. I had to absorb it all and figure out what to do next.
You mourn the years you’ve spent together when really it was a lost cause all along.
In the space of time it took for a traffic light to change, I learned that he had had a secret life since the day we got married. The whole damned time.
Maybe the truth had set him free. Or it just felt good to watch me hurting.
You see I had to let the facts fall into place. I had to sit for hours at a time in my gardens and accept that he wasn’t alone those weekends he was away.
I had to wonder how it was for that innocent man who sat at the same traffic light. If only the light that day had been green instead of red.
In that pause between the red light and the green one, my then-husband basically told me that my life had been a lie.
We were only a block from home when the words came tumbling out of him. When he admitted about all the women he’d been seeing over the years. The many times he’d lied to me.
I think that hit me the hardest. All the lies. The stupid, futile lies.
The fact that my life could have been different had I not chosen to walk this path with him. I was blinded by love back then, and I was blinded by rage and hurt now.
And soon I would have to pack my things and leave. The life I had there, the friends I’d made, the gorgeous gardens I’d tended so lovingly, would become memories.
I would have to leave it all behind and start over somewhere new.