Money was tight on my eighth birthday. The day of my birthday, Mom told me that she didn’t have any money to buy me presents. Could I be a big girl and wait until Wednesday when she got paid? I said okay, then started crying. I shouldn’t have cried, I mean, it wasn’t a big deal in the large scheme of things, but I did. I was a kid. And to a kid, birthdays are a big deal. To this day, I still feel bad about crying. I know that must have broken her heart.
Dad shot Mom a look, Mom yelled at me for crying and making her feel bad, then Dad took me and left. We went to the gas station where my aunt worked. My other aunt was there, too. They gave me presents. Then Dad took me to HER house where SHE gave me a Hawaiian Barbie. I thought that was pretty freaking awesome. Barbies were my favorite things, and Hawaiian Barbie was the most coveted Barbie at the time. All my friends had her and finally now I did, too. She came complete with a grass skirt and bikini top. I played with my new Barbie in the living room while Dad and HER talked in the kitchen.
I had to pee really bad, but didn’t know where the bathroom was so I went in the kitchen. SHE was sitting on the counter and Dad was kissing HER. I cleared my throat and asked where the bathroom was. I remember sitting there on the toilet, my legs dangling a foot off the ground, thinking about the situation and wondering what I should do. Should I run away? I should have said, “Where’s the door?” and run away. Why is Dad doing that? What about Mom?
I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding that event. I don’t remember before the affair. I don’t know why or how it happened. I just know that from the appearance of it at that moment, that it was wasn’t the first time they’d kissed. After I finished in the bathroom, I went back into the living room. Later Dad put me in HER bed and shut the door. I laid there in my uncomfortable high-waisted jeans and T-shirt, listening to the creaking of the house, the people banging on the floor in the apartment above, and the sounds of my dad kissing someone who was not my mom.
“I’m just trying to kiss you,” I heard HER say.
I laid there for a long time, trying not to hear the smacking of their lips and fall asleep. I watched hours pass as the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock slowly changed.
I wish I could remember how things happened. Why did Dad cheat? How did they meet? There’s no excuse for cheating, but did Mom drive him to it? That’s what he said, anyway. I believe there is no excuse for cheating, personally.
I later overheard Mom recounting the confrontation over the phone. “I walked in there and there they were. She said, ‘Oh my God!’ and I said, ‘No, God had nothing to do with this.’” I don’t remember how Mom found out. I can’t remember if I said something. I do remember that she was very angry with me for not saying anything to her after my birthday. I was eight years old! What was I supposed to say? I should have said something, yes, but I didn’t know how. I told a girl at school the next day. Why couldn’t I have told Mom?
Part of me thinks that she holds that against me, that I didn't tell. Not too long after that they separated for a while. Mom told me that me and my fucking father could just go to hell. And for some reason, that memory, the one where she told me to go to hell, is one of the most vivid memories I have. Well, that and the other time when she told me that she never says anything unless she means it. Mom tells me that the only reason she went back to Dad was because of me. When I was a kid, I went through times where I believed it and times where I didn't.
Now let's jump forward to 2005. One day I wrote in my journal the alarm I expressed at the fact that my dad came home in the middle of the day, took a shower, shaved, then headed back out. He told me he had to go see about a job. I found the whole thing suspicious, but didn't even dare to voice my real suspicion in my journal.
I flipped through the journal a few pages. A week later, that was when I found the dating site in the computer's internet history. It was one of those hot, local singles type of websites. My dad is not and never has been a computer savvy guy. In my journal I wrote that he typed the URL directly into the search box instead of searching for generic porn terms such as titties and ass.
I panicked. The reason I checked the history was because I had been blogging back then and didn't want Mom to discover my blog, so I always deleted the history and the cookies. What was I supposed to do with that information? And by that time, going from what I read in my journal, I had already forgotten about the shower/shave incident.
I ended up deleting his trail. But a week or so later I told Mom. I don't know if I did the right thing. I don't know if I did the wrong thing. I just remember that it was a thing that totally sucked and I wished I hadn't been confronted with.
Looking back now, I see the completed puzzle. I had the suspicions. I had the pieces. But living there everyday made me blind to the bigger picture. Now I see it, and it certainly isn't a pretty one.