« Tread Softly, Heroes: On Meeting Seth Godin | Main | The Omen »

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

Kate and Jake met in high school. They eventually went off to the same college and married shortly after they graduated. Kate worked as a doctor’s assistant until they had their first child. She continued to stay home after the second. They lived one of those what I call safe existences.

After a few years, it was apparent that Kate didn’t want to go back to work. Jake was always travelling on his job and he earned more than enough money, so it made “sense” for Kate to stay home to create a happy and stable household for the family.

I visited Kate from time to time. Our children were more or less the same ages and while they were young, they enjoyed playing together. Later, the situation between the children became more awkward, the topics that Kate and I could talk about, more limited and the distance between our city apartment and their large country home more difficult to travel.

A few months ago, Kate asks me to come over for the afternoon. Hearing a slightly desperate or pleading note in her voice, I say I’ll be right over. When I get there, Kate has set up a cosy tea setting in the corner of her living room, a large pot of tea and some homemade cake. We chat back and forth. I begin to wonder whether the urgency I had heard in her voice hadn’t been there.

She mentions Jake’s 50th birthday. They’d celebrated it with a bombastic party: event manager, caterers, outdoor tent and jazz band. They’d hired a professional photographer. I hadn’t attended the event; it’s the sort of party I feel the least comfortable in. Kate takes out a stack of photos and hands them to me to look through. She just received them today.

Most of the photos are of people standing in small groups or as couples. I shuffle through photo after photo of people talking, laughing and toasting the Birthday Boy (yes, that is how she refers to Jake). Since I know only a few of the people at the party, I try to go through the stack as quickly as can be considered polite.

Suddenly, I stop. There is a photo of Jake and a woman I have never seen before. The photo is taken off to the side and with a zoom lens - Jake and the woman don’t know their photo is being taken.

On the surface, it is a photo of two people conversing. Yet, the expressions on their faces show so much intimacy, yearning, tension whereas their bodies such an ease and warmth, I feel as if I’m intruding upon them by looking at the photo.

Stunned, I look up at Kate and she breaks into tears. She sees what I see, but it is something that she hasn’t wanted to or hasn’t been able to see in real life. One photo, with sexual sparks radiating out between her husband and a woman (her husband’s company’s lawyer) tells it all.

It reminds me of the time, when I saw the film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, when it first came out. I remember thinking, if the film crew had used a of thermal camera to shoot a scene, it would be possible to see the red and orange and yellow sparks radiating out of Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie. No wonder Ms. Aniston left her husband. He didn’t even need to confirm her suspicion; she only had to look at the dailies.

Kate and I sit for a while in silence. The one damning photo sits on top of all the other photos with family and friends. One photo that will make their life crumble.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: A satisfying number of new stories has been arriving at The Elder Storytelling Place this past week and I thank you all. Not that we can't always use more. That's a hint...]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh! Lia, it must have been so disturbing to you to have been the one who seconded Kate's impression of the photo.

But, Kate would have known without your sensing it. The photo must have really told the story of the sparks that were flying.

Sorry you were put in that position.
How awkward for you amd how painful and sad for Kate.....

Your telling of this happening had it's own "spark". Oh my heart aches for Kate.

Is there any pain greater than that of being betrayed? Your whole world is shattered and your self esteem sinks right along with it.

You were very perceptive to pick up on Kate's cry for help and she was fortunate to have a friend that she knew she could trust.

How wonderful that when your friend really needed you..it didn't matter how long or why you just went and was there...

I'm so sorry Kate will have so much more to go through in her future. Hope your there to help...

Dorothy from grammology
remember to call gram

Dear All, thanks for the comments, I wish there was a happy ending to the story... Kate stayed together with Jake, not out of love and forgiveness, but, as Darlene hinted, because she lacked self esteem and feared losing financial security. Kate's and my friendship also suffered, and sadly has dwindled over the years.

I think some women stay out of habit as well. It's like sticking it out in a job that they don't like. Or because they don't want to devastate the children or create chaos in the family they've invested their lives in. It's very common and very sad.

tavelinoma, I agree with you that the situation is common and complex. There is also an element of selfishness that arises; not wanting to give up the material benefits. Certainly, in Kate's case, she did not stay for love, but she did stay for money and the children.

I think this is an interesting story. From my own experience, it seems easier to stay together for convenience and to avoid disruption of the whole household, but in the long run, there could be more damage than leaving the situation and seek a different life when
"love grows cold"
Celia Jones

The comments to this entry are closed.