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separate ways

published: 2011-11-10

A sunny autumn day. A bench in the park. People squeeze together to sit on it.
A woman decides she may as well use this moment to read a book. Another woman already sits there, she uses the same moment to eat a bagel and to study the meadow.
“We speak the same language,” she says to the book-woman, who sighs and closes her book. She may as well give in to it, she may as well socialize.
The bagel-woman is somewhat taken aback by the other woman’s sudden interest, her questions, her intensity. What city in their country is she from? Is she on holiday? Work she says? So how long has she been there? And oh really! She has four kids!? She must miss her kids! Yes, she does, says the bagel-woman. But at the same time she enjoys having the opportunity to do this, and to be alone.
“To wake up and to own your own thoughts,” says the book-woman nodding.
The bagel-woman is now excited, “yes, yes! Exactly that.”
The book-woman explains how she used to feel the same about being alone for a couple of days, without her kids. But it’s different now. Her divorce changed that. She is to wave her kids goodbye every weekend. Not seeing them for a few days is a must-do as opposed to can-do now.

The bagel-woman listens to how the book-woman separated and why. And that there’s a new man in her life, and that she dares tell her but nobody else how she loves him more than she dared believe existed. But it wasn’t him that caused it. She knows she hurt her ex-husband by doing this. He had hurt her too. The hurts were of a different nature maybe, but of equal value, weren’t they? The world didn’t view it that way though. She was to blame, she was to carry that blame.
The bagel-woman’s face lights up. She has been in exactly the same situation, but with a different outcome. It almost ruined her marriage. Almost. Her husband is a very calm and collected man, a rational kind of guy. She has no idea how it happened, and looking back she wonders what insanity had taken a hold of her. How could she have fallen in love with her Kroatian colleague, who is so passionate yet entirely unpredictable? She had gone to a retreat and tortured herself over the question what she was to do. What if this, and that, and if she were to such and so then maybe, and so on. Eventually she decided to stop all of it. Deep down she knew the affair with the Kroatian guy wouldn’t last, she simply knew.
There’s a silence between the two ladies.

The book-lady says, “You knew for sure. Whereas I didn’t know anything really.”
“You followed your feelings then.”
“Not even, I simply went with what was happening.”
The bagel-woman doesn’t ask the book-woman whether she is happier now. Neither does the book-woman ask the bagel-woman whether she is happier now.
The sun slips behind a tal building, They get up, shake hands and go their separate ways.

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