Rough & Tumble

Gazing out the window, he sat at the edge of the bed, the ice clanking in his glass of scotch as he drew it to his lips. The best scotch his money could buy and a nice enough motel room on the outskirts of town so he could think. Yes, so he could think.

He’d look at his watch several times wondering how long it would take her to notice he’d walked out. For good, this time. Sure, he’d return to pack a few things, gather as many personal belongings as he could.

The rest would be finalized in the bitter weeks that were certain to lay ahead.

Tom liked this feeling. The feeling of finality…..and of freedom. He’d wondered out loud what took him so damned long. His wasn’t a new story. Men left their wives everyday and Tom knew he was a statistic.

Some women deserved to be left. Deserted even. Caroline was one of those women.

When they were younger, her restlessness was something attractive in her. Caroline was a force of nature and as many young men tend to want to do….Tom desired to settle that in her. They’d met while both in college, different colleges, on a plane headed to Switzerland. It was one of those educational student tours that were meant to enrich but usually ended up a sexual escapade and memory for most.

Caroline was in the seat in front of him, her thin, willowy body and blue eyes catching his eye as she boarded the plane alone. Unlike the other girls on the flight, she didn’t travel in a pack with other wide-eyed giggling students. She seemed older than the rest, her somewhat worldly air combined with her good looks made Tom desire her immediately though he was never much attracted to blondes.

Halfway into the flight he would catch her humming the tune she was listening to on her head set….Tom immediately recognized the hummed melody as Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind.

He began to sing the words loud enough and in a moment or two, she turned around and their eyes met.

Twenty-seven years had passed and now Tom couldn’t breathe. He’d walked out after an anniversary party for them that his sister-in-law had put together. A wedding anniversary.

Approaching the bathroom, he could hear muffled voices and crying. Stopping to listen before knocking, Tom could hear Caroline’s mournful tone and bursts of sad cries. She was with her sister and this was really nothing new at all with Caroline. The restlessness he found himself utterly smitten by decades earlier was now slowly killing him.

Nothing was ever enough. A story not unlike many other marriages and yes, he knew their story wasn’t unique. He knew they were a statistic but this time it was him who was suffocating, not someone else.

Suffocating in his very own skin.

Tom could no longer be the man Caroline wanted. A man he was certain Caroline didn’t really want and a man Tom knew he was never going to be again. The marriages decay was not sudden and probably began when he sang the first words along with her discordant hum….on the plane to Switzerland.

Every living day after that was fueled by passion, high highs and low lows. All rough and tumble.

Exhausting.

He couldn’t be who she wanted him to be and Tom began to realize years ago that he probably never was.

It wasn’t him and he knew it in his very soul. This wasn’t his fault. Some people are an abyss of never ending want and need. They never really land anywhere. Instead always flitting about in search of a flame. This was Caroline.

Before drifting off to sleep, warm in the satisfaction of his new freedom….he began to hum a tune he’d heard long ago.

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?