“No,” I say. “But I do think that more good will come from it than bad.”
Mila looks unconvinced.
“I feel like I have an opportunity to learn who my husband is in a whole new way. I have an opportunity to get to know him without a filter. I can learn what I did wrong. I can start to understand what he needs from me. What I can do better the next time around. I’m going to learn how to love him again. I’m going to learn how to be a better wife to him, how to give him what he needs, how to tell him what I need. This is good. I have good intentions. This is coming from a good place.”
I set out to convince Mila. I just wanted someone to tell me that it was OK to do something I knew wasn’t OK. But in doing so, I’ve convinced myself somehow.
“Well, I wash my hands of it, then,” she says. “It sounds like you know what you’re doing.”
I nod and head back to my office. I have no idea what I’m doing.
Mila calls to me just as I’m almost out of earshot. “Mexican?” she says.
I look at the clock. It’s twelve forty-seven. “Give me five minutes.”
When we get into the elevator to head downstairs, I ask Mila if she likes Persian food.
“What is Persian food? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”
“It’s a lot of rice and saffron. A lot of stews.”
“Stews?” Mila says, making a face. “No, I’m not one for stews.”
She shrugs. “It’s OK.”
“Don’t think I’ve ever had it. Is it like Thai?”
“Sort of,” I say. “It’s mostly noodles, meats, and broth. Sometimes stuff is served with a fish sauce.”
“Fish sauce? A sauce made of fish or a sauce for fish?”
“No, it’s made of fermented fish. It’s delicious.”
“Why don’t we just stick to Mexican?” she says as we get off the elevator.
I nod my head. It’s that simple. Why didn’t Ryan ever just say, Why don’t we stick to Mexican? Why sit through all of those foods he didn’t like? I would have gone out for a burrito instead. I wouldn’t have even minded. Why didn’t he know that?
“You know,” Mila says. She’s walking a bit ahead of me and trying to find her keys in her purse. “If you think Ryan will be happy with you reading his e-mails and spying on his most vulnerable moments, then it’s only fair that you subject yourself to the same.”
“What do you mean?”
“What scares you? What do you want?”
“I don’t know. I guess I—”
“Don’t tell me,” she says. “Put it in an e-mail.”
That night, I check his e-mail drafts one more time before going to bed.
• • •
It’s sex. Honestly, it’s sex. It’s the one thing that, I think, I couldn’t tolerate being broken and the one thing that just completely broke down. That’s what this is all about for me. I think I could have had more patience with you in other areas if you’d just been a little bit more interested in actually having sex. I think I could have been more thoughtful toward you. I think I could have been happier to spend time with you. I think I could have been better at listening to you. If I hadn’t been so pissed at you for never, ever, EVER WANTING TO HAVE SEX.
What the f**k? It’s not even that difficult, Lauren. I wasn’t asking you to become some sort of sex queen. It just would have been nice to have sex twice a week. Twice a month? It would have been nice to have you initiate it maybe once a year.
It always felt like you were doing me a favor. As if I was asking you to do the dishes.
And I don’t know why I never screamed at you about it. Because I screamed at you in my head. Sometimes I’d get so pissed off after you said “Not tonight” for the twentieth night in a row that I would go and take a cold shower and scream at you in my mind. I would actually have a full-on fight with you in my head, anticipating the things you would say and screaming my responses to myself. And then I’d towel off and get into bed next to you and never say any of it out loud. You would just sit there with your f**king book in your hand, acting like everything was fine.
Why didn’t I just tell you that nothing was fine?
I can’t be a husband to you if you treat me like a friend.
I need to HAVE SEX, LAUREN. I NEED TO HAVE SEX WITH MY WIFE FROM TIME TO TIME. I NEED TO FEEL LIKE SHE LIKES HAVING SEX WITH ME.
I can’t spend months of the year masturbating quietly in the bathroom because you “aren’t up to it tonight.”
• • •
I want to scream at him. I want to tell him that if he wanted me to like having sex with him, then he probably should have tried a bit harder to make it good for me. I want to tell him that it’s a two-way street. That he wasn’t the only one who was going to bed unsatisfied. I want to tell him that the only difference between him and me was that at least I gave him an orgasm every couple of months. But then there’s another, huge, big, aching part of me that wants to say, Come home, come home. We can fix everything now that I know this.
I get into bed and try to get some sleep. I toss and turn. I stare are the ceiling, but sometime in the night, my brain finally shuts down, and I fall asleep.
When I wake up, I have so much I am dying to say.
• • •
Here are some things I think you should know:
The couch no longer smells faintly of sweat, because no one goes running and then doesn’t take a shower before they lie on it.
I have really been enjoying the act of throwing away my receipts. I no longer have to account for every single penny that goes in and out of the bank account. Sometimes I go to the store, realize I forgot my coupon, and then just buy the thing anyway. Why? Because f**k you. That’s why.
I tip twenty percent every time. Every. Time. I no longer care that you think eighteen is standard.
I am really looking forward to an entire Dodgers season going by without a single trip to the clusterfuck that is Dodger Stadium.
Do you understand how a broom works?
I have always hated eating at that stupid Chinese restaurant on Beverly Boulevard that you love so much. It’s not that good. And while we are at it, yes, I did think that the hair I found in my chow mein was disgusting, and I was not able to just “get over it.”
That joke you tell about the nuns washing their hands at the Pearly Gates is totally gross, not funny at all, and f**king embarrassing.
Men who have beards are supposed to trim them. You can’t just let it grow and think it looks nice. It takes upkeep, otherwise you look homeless.
And speaking of hair, you need to learn to trim your pubic hair. I don’t know how much clearer I could possibly make this. Apparently, buying you a beard trimmer and saying, “Ha ha ha, I think this also works on pubes,” was not clear enough.
If you’re looking for reasons why our sex life was an unmitigated disaster, maybe you should consider the fact that you haven’t put in a modicum of effort since, I don’t know, senior year of college. Do you even understand how women experience pleasure? Because it’s not through relentless, rhythm-less pounding.
I stop typing and look at what I’ve written. I want so badly to delete those last parts. It’s all so embarrassing and uncomfortable. What if he really read this? What if he really saw it?
I delete it. I have to delete it. I can’t say that stuff.
But then I remember that I told Mila that I want to be honest. I told her that the reason I thought I should read Ryan’s e-mails was that I needed to hear his honesty. I needed him to be unfiltered. How can I justify reading his honest thoughts if I delete my own?
So I press control-Z. It reappears on the screen.
It has to stay there. I have to do this right. He’s probably not ever going to read this. So really, I’m typing to myself. Maybe that’s the problem; maybe I’m nervous to admit some of this stuff, even to myself.
That’s why I have to do it.
I hit save and get redirected to my in-box. Where I now see I have one new e-mail.