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“Evie, we need to do something tonight you may not like, and I hope you’ll say it’s okay.” I thought maybe Paul wanted to try a new restaurant. Maybe go out with his theater office staff and not include me.
“Sure, what’s up?” I actually was not at all expecting what he said next. After all we’d already been through, you’d think I might have had a clue.
“Well,” he paused. “There’s someone I’d like to be with tonight. Y’know, spend some time with.” I felt nauseous. This wasn’t happening,
“Okaaaay,: I said tentatively, feeling my way into this conversation carefully because I felt like I might throw up at any moment. “This is a …guy right?”
“It’s a man I’ve met.”I felt like I might throw up here….
“Evie, I want to spend the night with him. The whole night.”
I stopped breathing at that moment. Maybe if I could hold my breath, the last few moments would rewind as if they never happened at all.
Paul and I had talked about this in the past weeks, this possibility. His need to be honest about his feelings was growing, his urge to explore more daring. But I don’t think I ever expected him to take action on those urges, not really. Those needs. I thought we could talk them out of existence.
We were now a decade into our marriage, and had spent the last few years trying to be as open to each others’ needs as possible. Like so many of the ‘70’s marriages we knew, ours had become a sexually open one, or at least we talked about it as if it was. And in truth I had taken our discussions into action. When I was on the road with a show, away for months at a time, different rules prevailed, or so I thought. I’d get lonely, miss Paul, feel vulnerable, scared without him, and to feel better, well…I’d take comfort where I could find it, with a stage hand, maybe a musical director or another actor. I never really gave it much thought. I wonder if the young ever do.
I knew Paul was the man I loved and wanted to be married to. THE person I needed more than any other person in my life. Romances begun on the road –ever since M. – ended on the road.
Our only unspoken rule was that I’d tell Paul about these short flings and we would discuss them in the context of our greater love for each other. We wanted our marriage solid and honest, and thought that by openly discussing whatever went on within it, we could achieve that. I’d unburden myself about these romances knowing Paul would still love me. Oddly, I seemed to be only one doing the unburdening, but we seemed to be respecting each others’ needs by placing them firmly in the category of a marriage that was fashionably “open.” All of this was working for us, and it seemed to be working well.
As long as I was the only one doing the “opening.”

On this late afternoon, I just stood there, not knowing what to do with the strange words coming out
Except for my time on the road, he and I had never spent an entire night away from each other. When I was home, Paul was there. If I had an itch in the center of my bck, he was always there to scratch it for me. I’d never woken up in our bed without him. Spending a night alone in our apartment, not being able to touch him or, even in this day before cell phones, know how to reach him> I couldn’t believe how scared that made me feel. I’d never felt fear like this.
“But you can’t do that. That…that…that…. Us…won’t work.” I said, feeling nothing would change his mind, but having to try.
We’d been so open, so willing to support each other and here I was resisting his first honest request of me. I didn’t know how to stand there and hear what he was asking for. My heart began pounding in my ears. I felt brittle. Like an old teacup about to shatter into a million slivers.
“Evie, come on….we’ve talked about this.”
“I know, Paul, but we need to talk a little more, don’t ‘cha think?” I tried laughing. Nothing came out. “Who is he?”
“Not important . You don’t know him.”
I was sure I did. Our world was a small one.
“Okay, yeah, but still not yet. Please don’t do this yet.”
“Evalyn, I’m going.”
“Honey, please…”
“I’ll call you first thing in the morning, I promise.”
He hugged me. And, he’s gone.
Paul had dared to ask for what he needed because he trusted I’d be there for him when he returned. He had always been there for me. He’d always understood.
The moment the door closed behind him, I disintegrated.
My brain told my body to walk, so it waked slowly toward the door he’d just gone through. My brain instructed my arms to lift and lock all three locks (it was NYC after all). Usually, we didn’t do that until both of us were ready to retire for the night because it was inconvenient for whoever was coming home to get out all those keys. But would not need to go through all that because , well….because… brain could not finish the thought.
Because he wouldn’t be coming home later.
As he hugged me, he’d said “Honey, thank you for letting me do this.”
I’d returned his hug silently. I was floating above the entire scene.
“I promise to call you from the office first thing, okay? Don’t worry, Evie. This is all going to be okay. You’ll see. I love you. You know how much I love you.”
And off he went.
Those locks? They got locked.
I collapsed on the floor. I crawled to the darkest corner of the hallway and stayed there fro a while. Dachshunds Claudio and Isabelle came over to see why Mommy was a pile on the floor. They snuggled on my lap. I wet their fur with the few tears that managed to ooze out of my shocked eyes, my frozen heart. I felt like vomiting. But I was paralyzed. I didn’t turn on any lights for hours. I stayed in that dark corner unable to move until my back ached and I had to stand. I walked around the apartment, looking at all we owned, the books, , scripts, lamps we’d chosen together, our wedding wine glasses, stacks of music on the baby grand. I caressed its smooth ebony surface, but that piano didn’t feel like mine anymore. The life I was supposed to be part of seemed alien. I was wearing someone else’s clothing. Paul’s strange ,declared absence drained everything of meaning. His decision to put even a small portion of his love elsewhere, even temporarily, made every room cold and I shivered until the rest of my body ached.
Paul and I were on separate planets now.
On mine, there was no sleep.


Wow. Great scene, Evalyn. Amazing that with all that “talk” between you, you didn’t anticipate the actuality. But. . . that’s the way we function.

Keep this in mind…Paul and I were also having great sex during all this!

Except for my current dear husband Peter, Paul was the best lover I’ve ever had and I’ve had quite a few!

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