Irene Mooney January 2009
At last I feel as if progress is being made in my life. Sitting here in Starbucks with my latte and my magazine and an hour to waste seems like heaven to me after the turmoil of the last few weeks. . I breathe out a sigh of relaxation and survey the Starbuck groupies….a couple of mums with their kids…a teenager waiting for a date I think….an elderly man with his newspaper ..I felt I fitted in as the token single female.. Looking out over the supermarket I could see the late Saturday afternoon shoppers scurrying from aisle to aisle looking for the last minute reduced stickers and bargains.
As my eyes settled on the cashier nearest to me my heart missed a beat…Tom is there unloading a trolley .I let my eyes rest on him…almost feasting on the delight of seeing him again after so many weeks. He concentrates on unloading the trolley and seems lost in thought and I wonder if he is thinking of me. I slide myself lower in my seat just in case he looks over to the café and catches my eye, yet I watch his every move .
I tear my eyes away from his face and look at the conveyer belt …Actimel must be for her…Tom never drank it…Ice cream must be her secret eating ..Tom never ate that…Salad bag…she must be lazy..Tom always made his own salad….Full cream milk…silly woman..Tom wont use that for his coffee…Tom casually runs his hand through his greying hair and touches his earlobe in an oh so familiar way as he concentrates on the shopping. He is wearing brown cord trousers and I wonder if they are the pair we bought together at the January sales. I notice he isn’t wearing a tie but an open neck casual shirt that I didn’t recognise. He looks tired as if he hasn’t slept well for several days and I also notice he hasn’t shaved. I smile and wonder if he is trying to be “cool” I allow myself a moment to hold a memory of my teasing him about his designer stubble. The cashier is waiting for him to catch up with packing and begins to help him with the last few items. Tom thanks her and again I allow myself a memory of his almost insane politeness to everyone he met in the course of his day. He is a good man. I loved him. He hurt me.
I try to regain some semblance of normality to concentrate again on my magazine and to drink my now cold latte. But I am fighting a losing battle as all I can think about is what will he be doing now?..Where is he going?. Will he be going home to the house I once lived in.?.Will he be going to cook a meal in the kitchen I once cooked in..? Will he be watching a DVD in the living room where once we both watched DVDs .? As I try to quieten all these thoughts the one I am hoping will never surface breaks through..Will he be making love with her in the same bed where once we made love in? I am undone by this thought and lose the fight to stop the tears falling.
Tom is no longer mine…no longer can I lay claim to anything we once shared . He belongs to her , everything about him is now in her possession and I am alone . I am once more taken back to the day when Tom confessed to me that he no longer loved me All the progress I feel I have made in coming to terms with it is snatched away and I am once again bereft…laid bare…desperate…… If I could comfort myself with the cliché that men leave their wives for younger women all the time perhaps I could begin to rebuild my life and mend my heart. This small consolation is not for me. I am at odds with normality. No-one has done studies or published statistics or written magazine articles about my heart break. Tom has left the young woman…me…to return to his wife…. I have been left for an older woman one who laid claim to him even before I was born. I became the butt of so many jokes and teasing that I made light of it and no-one knew how deeply I was hurt. Today I had felt strong enough to venture into my life to begin again the rituals that make life bearable. Saturday Starbucks was one of the rituals that Tom and I never shared and I had felt confident that with this one small step I would be proving to myself that I could and would survive a broken heart.
I wipe my eyes…blow my nose…and ignoring any glances that come my way. I stand, somewhat unsteady, aware that the Starbuck groupies are watching me and wondering if they would be drawn into my small drama.. I walk towards the exit doors carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone. Saturday afternoon at Starbucks will never be the same for me again.