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- Growing Up Bronx
In life, no matter where you are, (though most will deny it because of fear of retribution) you have that one person you wonder about. What would life have been like if we stayed together? How would things be if the sequence of events that led to our split never happened?
I have one such woman, for a long time since we split, I romanticized our relationship. In my mind, I made it into the ideal situation, perfection. She could do no wrong, and there were no issues between us. In my mind I missed her and everything we had, I was devastated.
Recently, I mentioned to my wife that I had a dream about this person. Our relationship is not perfect, and it seems to me that when I am frustrated, my subconscious always travels back to that woman. I have no control over my dreams, nor is it my intent to dream of her, but it seems to me as if those memories are a coping mechanism to dealing with relationship stress.
As I mentioned before, in my mind, the memories are perfect. And don’t get me wrong, we shared some beautiful times together, but it wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t ready for that relationship, and as much as my mind tries to romanticize it in my dreams, that’s just straight up bullcrap. Let’s examine the facts of this relationship, in hopes that maybe it can help someone else navigating along this type of path.
We met while my then wife was in the Dominican Republic. I never misled her, or lied to her about my status. I told her that I was legally married, and that my wife and I were split. I also told her that she was having my child and that I would be bringing him and her to the states, regardless of our relationship status. She knew going into this, what my circumstances were.
The passion and energy between us was just too intense for any of this to matter. We worked together, and I spent plenty of time by her cubicle talking to her. One night, we agreed to go out dancing, and we had a nice time, but we were still “just friends,” so as always, I was on my best behavior. I took her home, to her door, and then I left.
The next day she was riding me a bit about not spending the night. This seems to happen to me often, you walk them home, and leave (unless invited in) then they get mad because you didn’t stay over. But, I was raised to be a gentleman, and I treat women with the utmost respect. If you want me to come in and spend the night, let it be known.
We hid in the network room to talk about this one day after hours. As we spoke, there was a passion and tension between us, it was undeniable. We fell into each other’s arms, and began to passionately kiss among the hum of the network room, and only the rack and cables to bear witness.
This happened during the middle of the week, and we planned an impromptu trip to Atlantic City for my 23rd birthday. We went out there, and you know how the rest goes. In fact, she was on her period at the time, and she told me this as a warning, as if this was going to stop me or gross me out. Nope, though, I do feel bad about the mess we left behind. Oops. “Ha… Ppy… Birth… Day… To… You….” Oh yeah, this was probably my best birthday celebration to date.
Anyway, now we are a thing. Mind you, I’m still married, still working with immigration and trying to sort out what me and my wife were going to do once she got back here. I know all this makes me appear like a terrible man, and to a degree, yes, I think I was terrible. But, she left on a whim, due to me saying I wanted to date other women in marriage counseling, but we wanted to see if things could still work. That’s how she got pregnant overseas. During one of my trips to see if our marriage was salvageable. She thought the time apart could make the heart grow fonder, but I’m more of a “out of sight, out of mind” type of person. I’ll miss you at first, but once I normalize, my defenses kick in and I move on.
At that point, no matter what happened with us, my child had to be near me, I could not leave any child of mine in another country to be raised by a single mom, or some other dude. I did whatever I had to do to get them over here. Meanwhile, I had also started to live my life as a “single” man, even though we hadn’t gotten officially divorced yet. It’s complicated.
In any case, she knew I was married and had a child on the way. That caused a strain on us, understandably, but honestly, we were so madly in love, or infatuated, I don’t know. I think it was love, but I don’t know. We continued seeing each other.
Eventually, my wife came to the states with my son. She’d move in with my mom while we sorted out the apartment situation. We understood that it was not likely we’d function as a unit, but we’d try at least for sometime, and regardless, I’d be involved in my son’s life. Mind you, I flew to the Dominican Republic over 15 times during the period she was over there and pregnant. I was there when she gave birth and I cut the umbilical cord. I’ve always provided emotionally and financially for my son. For all my faults as a husband, I’ve done my best as a father. My son’s mom, even to this day says to me, “You are a great friend, a great father, a good person, but you were a terrible husband.”
When my wife came here, it really strained my relationship with this woman. So much so that she came to see her at work. She told her that she was back, that we had a child, and that we should try to make it work. However, since I was in love with her, it would never happen. That’s when we agreed to no longer see each other as explained in the “red sweater.”
This breakup lasted only a week, and then we were back together, in the back room of our office, making intense passionate love. It was only a matter of time before my wife and I lived in separate homes, co-raising our child, while I continued to date this woman. Still legally married, though separated. Some people have asked me, “How do you know that’s your kid? Why’d you bring her back?” Well, look at him, and that’s your answer to the former, we are clones, and I brought her back because of my kid. No matter what, I had to be a father to my child.
Fast forward now to the summer. I’m still dating this woman, and at a night club, I met this other girl. She was dancing at Webster Hall, and we’d been making eye contact all night. The night was ending, she was dancing alone, and there was this dude trying to work in. I went full throttle and said that there was no way this dude was taking this girl from me. And he didn’t.
We met, danced, exchanged numbers, and before long, I was sleeping with her too. I spent nearly an entire summer dating her, while still married, and dating the other girl. It was a very weird time, and it feels like a vacuum where I can’t really remember much. I seldom saw my “girlfriend” during the summer because I was so fixated with my new “fling,” and of course, I had to spend time with my son, I was working full time, and attending school full time. I was split in so many ways, that I can’t remember much from then.
I do remember that before 9/11, my girlfriend had a bunion surgery or something to that effect, and I wasn’t there for her. I remember seeing her limping, walking her to the train, and then saying I had to go back to work. The truth was that I had to go meet the “fling.” She was upset that I didn’t spend as much time with her, but we were still together. Shortly after that, my fling and I ended, I was devastated, (idiot I was) but still pushing on.
At that point I decided to focus all my energies on my girlfriend. She was moving into a new place, and the elevator was broken. All by myself, I moved all of her belongings from one building to another, and carried everything, and I mean everything up those damn 5 flights of stairs. Y’all have no idea the strain I went through.
In any case, we were back in full swing. We were cooking together, spending lots of quality time together, and I realized that this was the woman I should be with. Yes, I had wronged her, but silently I swore to myself I’d never do that to her again. Yes, we started off on the wrong foot, being married and all. But by God, this is the woman I love, and this is where I want to be. We would make this work.
Fast forward sometime. We bumped into another colleague, and he had this really cute girl with him. We all decided to have lunch together, and I eventually became friends with the hot girl. I was still with my girlfriend and behaving, but I know that my intentions were wrong at the time. Still, I behaved myself, trying to honor my silent promise. That is until my girlfriend told me that we couldn’t spend time together for a whole month. Her family was coming over from Taiwan, and they would disown her if they saw her dating a foreigner! I didn’t take that too well, and guess who I called?
I was hurt, angry, and felt as though she didn’t think I was good enough. I had to pack my military uniform, and any trace of my existence and remove it from what was slowly becoming our place. So, during this month of exile, I began to hang out with the other girl, and less than a week later, I was sleeping with her.
It didn’t take long for my girlfriend to notice what was happening as we all worked for the same company, and once she realized it, she cut me off, and never spoke to me again. I moved out, and I’d never be returning.
In hindsight, and thanks to my dreams, this has always felt like the greatest mistake I have made when it comes to love and dating. It has been over 15 years, many relationships, a divorce, and another marriage later, yet my subconscious still pulls her up in my dreams when I am angry or stressed at home. It’s crazy how my mind romanticizes things.
But the truth is, if everything was so perfect, as my mind tries to convince me into believing, why did I cheat on her that summer? Why did I so easily jump into bed with another woman at the first sign of my fragile ego being hurt? Granted, I was much younger, and if confronted with this today, I’d handle it differently. In fact, I have up to this point in my later relationships, handled it more appropriately. But the youth and stupidity excuse can only get you so far. I cheated on her before the family came over, and I like to think that this was just my male desire to conquer, and that I would have behaved if I were older, but is that the truth? I don’t know.
What I do know is that things were not perfect. We didn’t even start dating under perfect circumstances as I was married and becoming a father! I’d really appreciate it if my damn dreams would stop messing with me by having her make guest appearances. We didn’t even maintain a friendship, she cut me off entirely. She even went so far as to say that I was cyber stalking her! I really, really tried to make amends, but she wasn’t having it. So, I accepted it, and moved on. Apparently, my dreams didn’t get the memo though.
Growing Up Bronx