Last summer, after discovering that our second grandchild was on her way, my husband, Kem and I sat in the local all-night diner, held hands across the table and tearfully agreed that it was time for him to give up his mistress.
Anyone who has been a party to a long-term relationship knows that even those who are truly in love cannot always be everything to each other. There are needs that cannot be met inside a marriage, no matter how hard each of you tries.
I am no fool. I knew where he went when he slipped out of bed at 2:00am. I knew what he was up to when he was "running to the store for a Diet Coke" on a Saturday afternoon, and was gone for 3 hours. He had come home late, guilty, breathless and disheveled more times than I could count.
This had been going on for 13 years.
I really could not compete with her. I am chubby and planful. I worry, make lists and I am a serious smart-ass. She hasn't an ounce of fat on her. She is sleek. She is lithe. She is spontaneous. She purrs. She made him feel free and young in a way that I never could.
But on that August morning in 2009 he agreed that, for the preservation of the family, he would give her up.
Which is how I came to drive his BMW.
The 1994 red 325i convertible, with tan interior, had been my gift to Kem after Noah's Bagels IPO in 1996. He had lusted after the design of the 1994, somehow finding the tail lights of the '95 and '96 models offensive (Silly me, I had thought my husband was all about headlights up until this point).
We lived in Redwood City, CA when she entered our life. One mile from the Junipero Serra freeway (280, the most beautiful freeway in the USA). When my composer-husband was stuck on a lyric or had lost the next phrase of melody, Kem would jump on this spectacular roadway (the closest thing to the Autobahn) and let this beauty do her thing. Top down, in the middle of the night, at 105 mph he would race up and down the peninsula from San Jose to San Bruno and back, clearing his head. Revving his creative engine.
In the summer of 2002, when we left California for life in a small southern town on the east coast, Kem and our son, Andy, drove the mistress across country on Rt 40 from Barstow CA to Wilmington, NC. The buddy-road-trip-movies cannot touch the adventures they had together.
In our first few years in Wilmington, my husband could be seen zipping around town in his red-love with his newest purchase from Home Depot or more often, our Siberian Huskey, Tatiana, in the back seat. If someone was trying to place us in the community I would often hear, "Is your husband the bald guy, in the red BMW, with the great dog in the backseat?" Yes, that is my Kembo and the two ladies who proceed me in the hierarchy of his affection.
But a BMW convertible does not have room for 2 car seats. It does not have the requisite 75 airbags to protect these babies that have entered our lives. And, frankly, much to Tatiana's dismay, the joy of having Drew and Charlotte in PaPa's car has eclipsed the rush of having the top down and doing 0-to-60 in 7.3 seconds.
And thus, Kem gave up his mistress and we decided I should bring her to Washington DC as my commuter car.
Yikes! I had to learn to drive a stick-shift! After 13 years I was about to confront his mistress/drive Kem's car, for the very first time.