My dad had offered to come visit while Scott was out of town to help me with the kids. I took him up on this. It meant he could get the kids to and from school, meaning I could work my regular hours instead of abbreviating them. It meant they wouldn't have to be on their own after school for any amount of time.
It also meant my dad could meet the plumber at the new place to get a few things looked at that needed attention. I was grateful he was coming to lend a hand.
The kids and I picked him up at the airport the night of the 4th. It was a VERY good thing he had come to visit when he did. The weather had turned very cold and icy rain was predicted that night. The school district had already cancelled school the next day.
He collected his luggage and as he and I were putting it in the back of my car I turned to him.
"Daddy?" I said.
"I'm really, really sorry." and I burst into tears.
And my dad hugged me. I stopped crying and we went home.
I was able to drive to work without any issue. The anticipated precipitation hadn't happened, so the streets weren't frozen. I'd started to experience work as something of an escape. I was good at my job. I was a good prep chef. I liked my job and the woman I worked for. I liked my coworkers, who continued to surprise me with small gestures of goodwill.
When I had stayed home with Will, one of the women I worked with came up to me the next day.
"Oh, there you are! I was asking yesterday 'Where is Amanda?' It's good to have you back."
Another woman, who didn't speak English very well, but it was better than my Spanish, would give me little pats on the back every now and then. One of the cashiers regularly asked how I was doing with everything going on. It was a nice thing, to know they were giving me good vibes.
I worked my normal hours, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I liked this schedule because I was done in time to visit with the kids and get their dinner together while I got a solid 40 hours a week, if not a little overtime.
Scott was in San Francisco attending the Game Developers Conference, but was getting ready to go to another hotel in San Jose to attend a music convention. He and I had gone to these together until we had kids. In the last 13 years I had been to fewer than 5, while he still attended 2 or 3 a year.
When he and I had separated in 2013 it became clear that the friends we had made through these gatherings were going to be his friends and not mine anymore. I knew that there was a division of friends when couples split, but it didn't make me feel any better when I realized there were people I loved I wouldn't speak to again.
At some point, his friend had started to tag along to the conventions and was now his regular traveling companion to these things. And, frankly, he hadn't wanted me to go along with him for years.
So, Scott was gone for a week with the woman that was effectively his girlfriend. The same one that paid for all these trips they took together. I had no idea how to refer to her. Friend? Girlfriend? I didn't know.
Probably girlfriend. Part of me wanted to put that label on it and part of me didn't want to make assumptions.
But, the photo he'd posted of himself with her kissing the side of his face slammed me in the heart like I'd been punched. Slammed me in a way I didn't want it to.
I didn't want to be hurt. I didn't want it to sting. I didn't want to feel dumb because I'd finally realized they'd been involved for a long time. I didn't want to feel stupid for telling myself they'd just been friends all the years there was evidence to the contrary in front of my face. I didn't want to feel jealous that he had a companion all ready to go and I was just by myself. I didn't want to be resentful that she took him for weekends out of town, had been taking him for weekends out of town for half a decade.
But I was. I was all of those things.
Then my brain went into the dark place it likes to go.
I started thinking about how he'd be having fun with people I didn't get to be friends with anymore.
I wondered what he'd say to them about me and how this was all my fault. I wondered how they'd nod vehemently and agree. I worried about how that would get filtered and passed around and filtered and passed around again.
I convinced myself that everyone would tell him "I'm so glad you got away from that bitch."
I sat there and cried about everything I didn't have.