Adultery’s my sin. I was a serial cheater. I lied to and betrayed those loved, including myself. Looking back, my life of adultery, makes no sense.
Once, I thought I loved two men and hated one. In old age, I realize I hate no one and there’s only one I love and only one who loves me, my husband. Edward never loved me. I was only his Asian fetish doll, replaced by another. He never said he loved me. Why did I think he did? Because I loved being his Asian doll.
With the putty of my poverty background, low self-esteem, and naivety, he re-constructed me into his fantasy. The clothes, jewelry, makeup, Porsche, trips to San Francisco; his Stanford internship, knowledge of anatomy, sex games, charm, intelligence, attention, swayed me because I wanted to be what he created. I became addicted by Edward’s transformation and repeatedly sought the initial attention rush of crossing his threshold. Each subsequent affair changed me, some a little, others a lot.
I haven’t forgiven Paul or myself. I limp on and accept it was me who initially flirted. I didn’t have to grovel to his commands. Like the ping pong paddled software executive, it was something in me which sought debasement, a penance for my wantonness.
Despite the transformations, I remain a poor, Catholic, Asian girl born in a rural orchard and raised in an East San Jose dysfunctional family with fear my companion. I was a girl who wanted to be a nun, took soapy showers and feared hell then an adulterous wife who feared exposure. Now, fear fades due to time’s concealment fog.
Another transition has occurred. I’m a great-grandmother, an unmistakable signpost of being an old woman. My tears at the birth, however, were joyous acceptance of my new title. Children, grandchildren, now a new wave, great-grandchildren. With luck, I may peek at another wave in twenty years. With my wanton puppet shadow stashed in the memory bank trunk, I devote myself, to husband and family, those betrayed so long.
I console myself none were hurt by my wantonness because none knew. There were many times, however, hubby suspected despite my spy’s cover. His unconfirmed suspicions bedevil him and separate us. I did hurt him.
Do I have regrets? Of course, many. Those who say they don’t lack honest hindsight. My biggest is for my husband, the bedeviled pain I caused by his suspicions. He’s never known me, the whole me, myt wayward puppet shadow, the hidden me, the spy lying next to him in bed. I regret the energy and time spent for others meant less for him and the unmentioned divide it causes between us in old age, the topic never raised but always there.
When he stopped me on the sidewalk while I held my Pee Che folder in defense, it was the most wonderful thing which happened to me. He is my Camelot’s king. Together we have a happy little kingdom. I pray and light candles in church, a faithful wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, happy with my little tribe.
Yet, all is not well in our Camelot. Like Guinevere, I complicated the happily ever after-ing. I can never confess to him and destroy his deceived reality happiness. Why be Mordred and replace it with a harsher truth like my mother did to me? I don’t want him to lose his old age’s bliss with a truth that cripples and destroys. Yet he doesn’t and can never know me, the whole me. This I regret most.
I don’t know if he had a secret puppet shadow, a hidden life unknown to me. My affairs may have blinded me to his. He left on business trips, went to other worlds alone. If he had a secret puppet shadow, or worse, loved another, I don’t want to know a reality which destroys my old age’s bliss. Why throw out a fictitious happiness for a harsh truth which can’t be revoked once learned?
We never know ourselves completely, let alone another. My secret puppet shadow was selfish, but I’ve been unselfish too. What’s the ultimate act of unselfishness? Surrendering one’s life to save another’s. I’d freely given my life to save my children and, yes, my husband. I’d have followed hubby, for better or worse, back to Tropicana Village’s poverty if that’s where the path of life with him led. I would never abandon him even though I betrayed him.
Would he die for me? I think so but as the Vietnamese woman once said.
“The worse in war is finding out what you will do to survive.”
I do know he loved and loves me in the reality I know. I know, I loved and love him in his reality known. We gave each other wonderful lives even if our lives are different than what we believe. With my secret and perhaps his, we are apart but together, happily ever after-ing in our ersatz Camelot. So, we sleep, toss and turn, in our bed of marriage omission lies.
The secrets of my husband's biological father, my elder brother's illegitimacy, Mom's brothel imprisonment, her forced abortion, and especially my wantonness are specter ghosts who haunt my happy little kingdom’s perimeter. I stand guard against them, a burden I carry alone.
I went to Maui on a pilgrim’s search for Mom’s pineapple plantation. It’s gone, remembered locally like the orchards of Silicon Valley but gone, now a subdivision of homes and other lives. Like Dad's Alviso, time and events broke with its past. I couldn't even find my grandparents graves and accepted I'd never have grandparents, something missed.
The two cousins tracked down provided no common recollections, never heard of an auntie who sailed away and we didn’t even look alike. It was as if going to Atlanta, Georgia seeking Tara after reading Gone With The Wind, it’s gone.
Hopefully, a DNA sample someday connects me to villages in Luzon the Philippines and Shandong, China.
Some will say I’m not just old. They’ll say I’m, old and tainted, a used woman, an untouchable, contaminated because of many men. Promiscuousness is a female stigma but a male bravado. It’s true, there were many men. Has the unused, untouched, pure virgin, aged better once the old maid? Her wrinkles come, her breath sours, her joints creak, she eventually stoops too.
God takes us back used or not but always takes us. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, there’s no escape, that’s our fate. I make no apology for Cobra’s adventures. She pleased me, gave birth twice and withered no worse than if a virgin.
It’s better to be used and enjoyed than spoil on the shelf unopened, is my reply.
Author Notes: Looking back we all have regrets but our fate is the past is the past and we must accept what happened, did, including our role in it.