XXX Chats

In my case, the explanation was beautifully simple and weirdly complex: I fell in love. I have a larger-than-life, hugely talented husband. But somehow, this other man—a relief worker with loose trousers and premature crow’s-feet—got under my skin. He didn’t much like to hear himself talk, but others did.We sat beside each other in lectures, and I began to feel his gestures—the way he poured his Coke, the delayed smile when he swiveled his head to look at me, the amused flicker in his eye when one of our professors said something insufferable.

We sought each other out—the married housewife and the younger aid worker—with a burgeoning attraction I assumed was mutual, and about which I was stunningly unconflicted. At the end of our first two-week session in Boston, we hugged each other goodbye in the lecture hall.

By all appearances it was chaste, but I swore it was loaded with meaning.

When my son turned thirteen, the pinprick of light at the end of the parenting tunnel suddenly turned into a hole the size of a quarter. I knew I had to begin to plan life on the other side of mothering.

Lacking the courage to sell my novel, I decided to go back to school and got accepted to a master’s program in international relations.

My inevitable betrayal scared me, but nothing—not morality, reason, devotion to my husband and children—could stop me.

How simple it was to rationalize my approaching transgression as necessary. After school hours, in his or my hotel room, we talked about writers Lawrence Durrell and Richard Ford, the careers we still hadn’t been brave enough to try, the ways our childhoods helped decide our fates, all the subjects almost-lovers do to milk connection out of every second together.

His writing was sparse, elegant, and full of self-deprecating wit.

When he described smoking a cigarette under a desert cloudburst, he was Hemingway to me, or Graham Greene, every mysterious adventurer framed by solitude in a foreign land.

Some suffer from a love-sapped marriage; others can’t tolerate their husbands but stay with them because of financial necessity or the children.

A few want a little midlife sizzle after years of routine sex with the same person. seemed an odd sort at first, a Midwesterner stationed in a crisis zone overseas.

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