There’s something going on. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but Harry’s been acting weird all evening. And there’s something else- the house feels different.
Relationships truly are a mystery, Lily’s is that much more complicated as ‘the other woman’. Desire takes us where it will, Lily knows this better than anyone when she falls in love with her boss married Harry, twenty years her senior. He isn’t in love with his wife anymore, she isn’t giving him what he needs anymore but isn’t it always ease to poke another person’s ‘dead’ marriage with a stick, to commiserate with your lover, doesn’t it act as a spell to ward off logic? Pippa is Harry’s wife, Pippa who is in her mid forties and feels every bit of her age, who senses what she doesn’t know, feels Harry pulling away, checked out emotionally, going through the motions. She knows something is off but isn’t seeing the whole puzzle, not yet. Isn’t sure of her doubts, but they are growing. Inside Harry resents Pippa, posting about their ‘happy’ family on social media, his marriage feels like a web he is caught in, desperate to understand where the carefree, beautiful woman she once was went. Of course here I think, she grew older, life’s demands pull at us, in any long term relationship, married or not, it’s hard to keep things fresh, the intimacy in living together pulls us close but too, it can be very unromantic, that’s life. When you have children, of course attention is divided and time is harder to corral.
Harry wants to be a good man, he loves his children but he feels alive again with Lily. He fell for the much younger Lily against his will, it isn’t some cheap thrill for him, and it’s taking an emotional toll. This love he has for her is enough to risk being caught, bringing her into his own home! All I could think was, does he want a confrontation, in a sense forcing Lily into solidifying her feelings, their relationship? This time they get away with it, but Harry doesn’t want to get away with it. He would give up everything for her. For Harry there must be a painful ending to reach the joyful beginning if he is to have Lily in his life, he must give up his wife, but what about his boys? Harry does torture himself, Lily soon becomes all he can feel!
Pippa is tracking Harry’s lies, people don’t lie unless there are secrets. He is no longer making an effort in their family. She has become the invisible wife, it can’t possibly be her insecurities, she sees him on the phone late at night, he is more often than not late from work, she can no longer ignore what is right in front of her face. But there is fear too in facing the ugly, brutal truth of no longer being wanted, loved. When the confrontation comes, he won’t be able to blame her, to tell her she is just ‘overeating’. Her words drift over cyberspace, her only comfort is through the followers of her blog who check on her. Just how much of her life, her marriage to Harry has been a lie? Is she to see things end? How much time does she need to get used to the idea of divorce? She isn’t the one who wants her family destroyed! She didn’t sign up for that. Should she just remain on the periphery of her own marriage hoping against hope that Harry will love her again, should she allow herself to die inside because he is unhappy and just get used to the idea?
Lily has allowed her life to revolve around her beloved Harry and stealing any time she can with him, always at his convenience, because it isn’t easy for a married father to get away. But what will happen if/when she has him fully to herself? Isn’t there safety too in a relationship that offers you freedom, the refreshing comfort of distance? What happens when you realize you don’t fully know the man you’ve entered into an affair with? That you aren’t privy to the same man as his wife is?
We stumble into love, fall in and out of it… it’s always thrilling at the start, when the dew hasn’t been wiped from our eyes, before we’ve uncovered flaws, and with affairs like Harry and Lily’s, you are not fully engaged in each other’s lives, there is protection in the bubble of your love. It’s not being tested in the way of family, friends, children and outside influences chipping away at your love for each other. Some do stay when they fall out of love in their own marriages, be it for the children, due to finances, their own inertia, their cowardice, out of loyalty and sometimes they fall back in love. Sometimes it’s not about your spouse, it’s your own funk that distorts reality. Even if you leave for another woman/man, if it’s internal suffering, that goes with you too.
In Lily’s case, her sister tells her ‘you’re the free agent’ but in reality, that’s not true when you get entangled in another’s life, and allow them to help you. You have involved yourself, there is always the risk of it all coming crashing down when other people can be hurt.
For Harry he doesn’t see a solution, stay… leave… nothing is as it could be. He carries a heavy depression, but maybe it isn’t about Lily or Pippa maybe an affair is a catalyst. He is conflicted to the point of breakdown. His emotions are running away from him, he isn’t maintaining his calm, and there will be consequences for them all.
This is more about what remains in the aftermath of an affair. How things fall apart, or come together, what happens to those left behind to salvage whatever they can from the person they loved. It is an exploration of where we place blame and how we move on. I feel the story somehow is more about Lily, particularly towards the middle when we learn about her own abandoned family and her father Claude. Part two feels like another life entirely, and maybe that’s the point.
Can you answer the question “why do some people just pick up an leave”? Hmmm. Human beings are complicated wrecks sometimes. We often go against our better judgement and let our hearts take the lead. Love is a risk like anything else, even the best relationships can wither and die as much as the most ill advised ones can surprise us all and last a lifetime. Love can be found in the most unexpected places, even after you’ve lost hope.
Publication Date: October 8, 2019