The way the wheels came off my life, in the end, was dizzying. It was like a car crash at the bottom of a hill.
It was summer, with long days and balmy evenings, but it did not feel like summer. I had been cheating on my husband for six months by this point and the weight of my mistake, of my duplicity, was holding me in place like I was underwater. I was running on empty and caring very little about anything.
Side note... Here's what you're like during a breakup, according to your star sign. Post continues below.
For my birthday, I had arranged a party at home in my garden in the evening before the day itself. My favourite sort of party; messy and disorganised with bowls full of crisps everywhere. Cheesy music from tinny speakers and sweet cocktails in plastic glasses. As many friends as I could round up, which was a lot, because of the cocktails.
My lover asked me if he would be invited to the party. Well, no. What happened is that he told me that he was invited. “It’s your birthday,” he told me. “I love you. I should be there.”
I did not argue with him. I didn’t want to argue. I wanted him there, even though I could see it was a foolish move to have him anywhere near me in public. But I reasoned that people knew that we were “friends.” I told myself it would be weirder, in fact, not to invite him.
He said that we could be discreet. He said it would be fine. He said that the next day, under cover of visiting a friend of mine, we would have a night away together. That night away would be my birthday present.
(I’d be paying for my own present, though. That was the deal. He’d already told the necessary lies to his wife and got everything ready, but he could not pay for the hotel, because his wife would notice the spending).
On the night of my birthday party, he arrived late and he did not bring his wife. By the time he arrived, I was too drunk and overexcited, visibly far happier than I should have been to see him.