Tangled Webs

I spent the day checking in with my husband, making sure he was still okay, that everything was still okay. I cooked beautiful bologna and hand made egg fettuccine. I stood in the kitchen, tense, worrying about what this could lead to, whether my husband would change his mind, whether I would change mine. The hours dragged by so slowly. Pulling the eggs through the flour was a welcome relief. I made a well with the flour and added first two whole eggs and then four yolks bit by bit pulling it through the flour with my hands. I don't like to use cutters or recipes. I love to feel what I am doing, to understand what it needs to be perfect. It needed another yolk. As I pulled the dough together across the bench, over and over I forgot everything else - there was just the rhythm and the texture. I set the dough aside to rest and called my husband.

He was second guessing or maybe it was me, wanting him to. I hung up the phone and started to gently push the dough through the machine until that sound came, the small sucking sound indicating the release of the dough. I tightened the settings and started again. I wound over and over, finding comfort in the familiar repetitive actions, until the dough became pasta and the pasta became perfect. I cut it, hung it and there it sat, waiting. Beautiful, wide, yellow ribbons. I felt much the same - hung out to dry in anticipation, just waiting to be eaten alive. I was not sure if I would be eaten alive with reckless, savage, abandon or whether I would be consumed by guilt.

He pulled up and walked in. My kids were there and my best friend, my brother and sister in law - everyone was getting together for dinner. My girlfriend can read me like a book. I know she doesn't approve of the idea, let alone the practice. I told her I had spoken with my husband about an open relationship and she got very upset telling me I should make sure he is not cheating. She shook her head and knitted her eyebrows together exclaiming men are pigs and that it would lead to a very bad place. She was in the middle of a major heart-break. I did not tell her it was me who asked. I did not tell her it was me who wanted it. I could see her indignation on my behalf and feel her disgust at my husband for even thinking of putting me through such torture. I did not correct her.

I had not told her where I was going that night - I had no intention of telling her. My husband understood all of this and watched me squirm as I made vague gestures about where I was going, what I was doing, when I would be home. I could see his small delight in my discomfort as I repeated the story for my brother and his wife. I felt transparent, like they could see I was being untruthful, like they knew where I was going.

The complexities of honestly managing my other relationships had never really occurred to me as a problem within the context of this understanding. I had mistakenly thought that it would involve myself, my husband and any partners we chose to bring into our beds or whose beds we chose to visit. The need to explain away a night out only served to propel my anxiety to a whole new level.

I had many conversations with this man over the previous few days and weeks talking about what he would do, what I would do but now here it was. What happened if I did not like it? What would happen if I changed my mind? What happened if I wanted it all to stop so I could run home to my husband, tell him I loved him and that it was all a big misunderstanding? What happened if my husband was upset and it did not bother me? Worse still what happened if I liked it, if I didn't care, if I wanted it more?

I needed to go quickly before he changed his mind or maybe before I changed mine. I said goodbye to my girlfriend, brother and sister-in-law. I kissed my children and told them to make sure they got enough rest. I went outside to where my husband was playing fetch with the dog. I looked up at him, the man I had promised myself to unconditionally. He wrapped his arms around me, looked down into my eyes and I could swear a small smile grazed his mouth. I could not tell if it was sad, wistful, happy or angry. He spoke softly so no one could hear. "I love you. Stay safe, have fun...and call me if you need me." I hugged him tight but did not kiss him, then nodded and walked out. I was breathing hard, heart racing, terrified, exhilarated, wondering if I could really do this.

I got in the car, turned the music up loud and drove headfirst into my uncertainty.

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