As I was getting ready to take Robert for the weekly Pram Jam at the Sea Point library, we get another text message from his father. He wondered again about our plans and thought we could take Robert someplace. I arranged for him to meet us at the library then to go to the Company Gardens.
Today Robert and I were the only attendants for the Pram Jam and the session was suspended until my son perked up from his nap in the buggy. Thankfully we were later joined by a three-year-old boy and his dad, otherwise it would have been such a waste of Ronnie’s efforts, trying to read and sing to Robert who always has his attention somewhere else. The library provides a fair amount of distraction with toys, stuffed animals and rows upon rows of book. Robert takes pleasure in pulling books off the shelves, always from the Afrikaans section for some reason, and thus keeps me busy tidying up behind him.
When Robert’s father joined us, he suggested that we make a stop at his place in town. He came from gym and wanted to have a quick bite to eat. My curiosity about my ex’s dwelling was finally satisified. He does not live next door to his girlfriend, but in ground floor flat in a small city block. The flat has a small private garden but no parking. When I took my flat, price and proximity to local ameneities and transport were the main criteria. Therefore I sacrificed a lot in the area of presentability and creature comforts. My ex in contrast worries most about presentability and creature comfort, and apart from the missing dedicated parking the flat is modern, well appointed and immaculate; at least in my humbled estimation.
My ex lives within walking distance of the Company Gardens and this is where we headed. He took charge of Robert, carried him around and showed him the bird cages and the squirells. When Robert got too antsy I managed to get him into the buggy, plying him with some snack and we set on a brisk walk into town. The idea was to get him to sleep in the buggy, and as soon as he did we headed back to the Company Gardens for a drink.
The drinks turned somehow into a lunch (nothing fancy just a couple of burgers). It was the same as the old days, but so totally different. We still had the same brands of bear and a frugal meal, but we split the bill and the tip. The toast I proposed was “to a better 2009” and he agreed. We talked a little about how terrible 2008 was. I related some of the story of my ordeal and the subsequent fallout with Jackie. My ex chimed in that he felt sorry for me, for the treatment I got there, he said he was sorry. I did not know how to respond to this, yes perhaps I have chosen to bury the hatchet and move on, maybe I will eventually forgive, but I will never forget. My ex showed me little or no consideration at all in 2008, and in fact his maltreatment made me an easy prey for others. What can I expect from other people, when my husband of nine years literally throws me out? How do I measure the damage this has done to my self-image and self esteem? Will I ever recover enough trust and courage to be able to surrender myself into a new relationship? – Even the way I pose this question betrays the extent of the damage you do not “surrender” yourself into a relationship.
It is perhaps surprising that with all these questions and emotions boiling under the surface I manage to appear completely neutral towards my ex. On an intellectual level he is quite interesting, and great to talk to, but he does not appeal to me as a mate anymore. The only relationship I want with him from now on is one that revolves around Robert’s best interests, and that is how things are going to be from now on.
Robert started crying and clinging to his father when we arrived home, so I relented and invited my ex in for the second time. In my disorganized place -among the mismatched assortment of old, new, borrowed and cast off furniture- Robert got to play some more with his father, and on impulse I decided to share my Christmas Pudding. This treat was so symbolic for me because I never got to enjoy it when I was married to the man – too extravagant he considered it. We both had a second helping and even Robert took a liking to brandy custard and started asking for “mo”. Later we still managed a quick trip to Queens Beach, and returned as soon as Robert looked tired. I wanted to get him ready for bed as quickly as possible to enjoy my solo New Year’s Party.