Home early from Fife’s place. I don’t really know where to begin. So, I guess, I’ll just begin with getting off the bus in St Andrews.
Fife met me at the bus station and suggested that we have a fish supper for dinner – since it’s my non-fancy favourite. We stopped at the chippy along the way.
We brought the greasy bags into his house, and I was immediately struck by the house’s decore. I assumed that since he’s a single man, he’d have minmal decoration. His cottage is nice, clean and minimal, but his house is a bit fussy. Even the entrace way was decorated with paintings and antique furniture, and light coloured curtains hung across the side window.
Fife told me to make myself at home in the lounge, while he grabbed some plates. In the lounge, there were family pictures on the wall, book shelves and kids toys shoved under nearly everything. There were vases on high shelves and little adornments on the side tables.
Goatee was a single man with a fantastic house and amazing style, but Fife’s place seemed different. Goatee’s decore was so…well…Goatee. This house didn’t seem very Fife-ish. Not like the cottage. In fact, this house really got me thinking, why does he leave one rural home (the one in Fife) to holiday in another (in Perthshire)?
He came back in and we switched on the telly, ate and chatted and had a rather enjoyable time.
After he’d cleared away the plates, he sat down on the sofa across from me with a very serious expression on his face, ‘I’ve got something I want to talk to you about. It’s early enough in the relationship, but well, things are going fast, and if I wait any longer it’ll just become awkward when you find out.’
Holy fuck. All I could think was: This sounds serious and not good. I am NOT ready for this.
‘My wife and I still live together. Well, ex-wife. Sort of.’
That’s all I said. That was all I could say. ‘What?’
‘We’re not together anymore, but it’s very complicated. Well, not that complicated,’ and he started to ramble, but I wasn’t listening because all I could think was, This would be an excellent time to tell him that if he’s got a wife I’ve got a Pete. But I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on yet.
I asked Fife to slow down and just explain it to me. What was the situation?
As far as I can tell, this is his habitation situation:
He and his wife split a little over four years ago. He moved into the cottage for about six months, but this proved problematic because of childcare issues. His wife was working for an Edinburgh firm, but got a promotion which requires her to be in London several days a week. So she’s a cross-country commuter. Away down south on Tuesday morning, back up on Thursday night, Edinburgh office Monday and Friday. This left Fife as primary care giver, which he is actually pleased as punch about. He was writing full time by this point, but because his books aren’t making him super wealthy (although, I don;t think he’s doing too bad for himself), and he’s working from home, so it didn’t make sense to get a sitter in all the time. Oh, and [Helen]’s parents live nearby – which is why the live in that part of Fife and not Edinburgh – but her parents are getting older and can’t look after the kids full time four days a week. Oh, and one more thing, they have a flat in London for [Helen] during the week, and she couldn’t afford further childcare on top of two mortgages. So Fife moved back into the house. It was supposed to just be until he found some place nearby, but time passes quickly, they all got into a routine, and now Fife and his wife are separated but living together.
It all makes sense, but I just don’t know. I mean, this whole time I’ve been worrying about Pete living with me, and here’s Fife with his ex-wife in his house. Or, from the look of the interior decor, Fife is living in his wife’s house. And, actually, now that I think about it, Fife living with his wife is way different to me having a Pete. I mean, Pete is some guy I hooked up with last summer that I can’t manage to get rid of. Whereas, [Helen] was Fife’s wife for fifteen years (probably more) and the mother of his children.
Fife recognised the dumb struck look on my face, so he insisted that I see his bedroom. So that I’d know he and [Helen] have separate bedrooms. Separate lives. He led me down the hall, and there is was a little room with his clothes, a wardrobe, a double bed and a few books scattered about. He said that this used to be his office, but now he writes at the kitchen table. But, standing in the doorway, the little room looked more like an occupied guest room than someone’s bedroom. I asked to see [Helen]’s room, and it was neat and tidy, but definitely home to a woman – lotions and perfume on the dresser, plus there was a jewellery rack on a shelf.
‘See, it’s all above board’, he said.
I wandered back into the lounge and sat down. I don’t know why I
was am having such a hard time with this. Unlike me, he’s being honest. But living with his ex-wife? How could I be sure they were no longer together?
I asked him, ‘When was the last time you two slept together?’
His response, ‘Oh ages ago. Over a year.’
‘A year!’ I yelped. ‘But you said you’ve been divorced for over four years.’
‘It was a mistake. A one night thing induced by nostalgia. We’ve both completely moved on. In fact, she’s seeing someone. And even if she weren’t, I don’t love her anymore. Well, I guess I’ll always love her. But like a friend.’
‘How is this going to work? Us?’ I asked.
‘No different than it works now. She’s gone most of the week anyway. And, as I said, she and I are separated.’
That’s when it dawned on me. He keeps saying ‘separated’. So I said, ‘I thought you were divorced?’
‘No not exactly. We’ve never really gotten around to it. She’s really busy, and I’ve got the books and the kids. And sometimes I’ll be on a book tour for weeks at a time. And we have to get her parents to watch the kids, and when they can’t, we have to find someone else…well, we haven’t had the time to get a divorce.’
He was so nonchalant about it all. But as far as I’m concernted, compared to this, the ‘Pete situation’ was a non-issue; he is just a house guest. I didn’t say anything to Fife about Pete. I need to think about the whole Fife thing first. I need to make sure I can deal with it. And I need to make that decision without Pete in the equation.
I’ll tell Pete that it’s over after his birthday this weekend, but I’ve really got to think about Fife and I.
I told Fife I wanted to go home. He asked me to stay, he said [Helen] was no big deal, he said that I should stay the night, his living situation was just a practicality of having children. He loved being with his children, this made being with them easier. I insisted that I wanted to leave. I wasn’t angry or upset. I didn’t think less of him, or even want to be with him any less. I just needed to get my head around the whole thing.
I’ve already been the mistress (TheBoy fiasco), and I can’t do that again. But I didn’t tell him that part. I just said I just need to think this whole thing through. My brain says I’m over reacting, but it’s a lot to take in.
Fife insisted on paying for a taxi all the way back to Dundee. I said I’d take the bus, but he rang a service. The taxi arrived and Fife shoved several notes into the hand of the driver. Before I got into the car, Fife said, ‘This is why I’ve been seeing a solicitor. It’s time to get it all sorted. But I can’t go without seeing my boys everyday.’
I told Fife that I’d text him tomorrow, and the taxi took me away.
I got home to Pete, S and PoshPhD watching television. I told them I had a headache, and I wanted to be alone. They’re still in their talking and watching telly. I just need some time to myself. I wish the lot of them would disappear for the night, but I have a feeling Pete will be curled up next to me within the hour.
How do I get myself into these situations?