We drove up the snowy, winding road toward the cozy A-frame cabin. We’d planned the trip as a reset and an attempt to get our marriage back on track but neither of us had spoken a word to the other in the last hour and a half. Things had gotten bad over the last several months and I wasn’t sure a weekend away would fix anything.
Derek had cheated. My response was my usual silent treatment, then shouting at the top of my lungs. It wasn’t the first time he had cheated; I knew it wouldn’t be his last. I was tired of blaming myself for his infidelity, tired of examining myself in hopes of finding the flaw that drove him time and time and again to another woman’s arms. To make matters worse, it was always the same woman. I wondered why he’d chosen me instead of her, she was more his type, and they seemed to have a connection that kept him going back to her for something I couldn’t give him.
Derek and I had become experts at pretending; pretending that we were a solid couple even in the midst of our storms, we pretended that we could weather them and that when we did, we would be the example for other couples riding out storms. But it was all a lie and we both knew it. We’d both grown weary of living a life together filled with lies and denials and making each other miserable. I’d forgotten how to love Derek and clearly, he had no desire to love me.
“Why do you stay?” My forever-single best friend would ask each time I would find myself at her door with tears in my eyes and details of my husband’s most recent affair.
I never had an answer that made sense coming from an otherwise intelligent, well-educated, and successful woman. I had achieved it all, I had obtained it all and I had choices in men, any of which would have treated me a hell of a lot better than Derek had. Yet, I stayed, and I didn’t know why.
The cabin was beautiful, much larger than the pictures had depicted online. Our normal rental was not available for our last-minute booking, and I worried that this new place would not compare. It more than compared, in fact it was breathtaking. It was large enough for a family of four at least; my heart broke at that moment as I realized that Derek and I would most likely never have children together. I’d lost hope that we would survive to make that dream a reality.
I sat quietly in the car looking at the cabin and the fresh snow on the ground, and the trees on each side that seemed to frame the large A-frame in a picture-like scene.
“Are you coming or are you going to stay out here in the cold?”
His harsh tone broke me from my thoughts and stoked my anger. He’d done too much shit to take that tone with me. Reluctantly, I opened the door and got out grabbing the groceries from the back seat and followed him inside. The snow on the ground reminded me that I had worn the wrong shoes, luckily, I had packed my hiking boots; I’d need a walk later to create some distance between Derek and me. Things already were not starting off well.
I sat the bags on the counter, Derek had already headed down the hall toward the bedroom to drop our luggage. The air was heavy between us, and I began to have second thoughts. He’d insisted we come, I was hesitant but like always, I was the one to go along with his wishes.
I needed to move, so I put away the groceries and started the coffee pot. I heard Derek’s footsteps returning; he looked remorseful when he joined me in the kitchen and rested his body against the counter next to me.
“Listen, I’m sorry for my foul mood. I’m the one who insisted we come here and already I’m being an ass.”
“I’m not sure what you want me to do or say, Derek.”
“Can we start over?”
“Start what over, this weekend, this marriage, what?”
“Chelsea I’m sorry, okay? I got us here. I’m the one who screwed up. I want to fix us, and I want to save our marriage.”
“I want that too.”
He pulled me against him holding me against his body. I wanted to cry; this would be the perfect moment to cry but I had no more tears left. Crying had become such a part of the landscape of our marriage but our marriage, the shell of our marriage had left me dry and unable to cry another tear. So, I just laid against him until he was ready to let me go.
His phone rang. It was her; we both saw her name flash across his screen, and it was as if time stood still while we exchanged looks and his eyes changed from remorse to guilt to anxious; anxious because he wanted to answer the call. I pulled away from him and headed toward the front door grabbing my coat on the way out.
I slammed the door headed somewhere, anywhere; I hadn’t even changed my shoes. The sound of his voice, when he answered that call; her call, hit hard against my chest. The smooth, sweet way that just saying that one word reminded me of the days when that same sound brought me so much joy. I knew he loved me then and it seemed like such a contrast to how his voice sounded when he spoke to me now; like sandpaper, rough and forced; speaking out of obligation and necessity. Things were worse than bad, my marriage, our marriage was dying, and this weekend would not change that.
I needed a walk, a walk far from this cabin that held so much hope but had become a reminder instead. I needed to clear my head and force myself to be honest and to accept that my husband didn’t love me anymore. I needed to find something out in the snow, hidden within the trees, that would save not my marriage, but would save me. So, I walked not caring if I got lost, sure my husband wouldn’t care either; assuming I’d follow the imprint of my footsteps back.
I’d always loved the snow. Maybe because I was a southern California girl where snow didn’t exist except on television and magazines. My parents would rent a small cabin in the mountains every winter during school break, and I’d spend as much time out in the snow as my mother would allow. My childhood had long past, and I had forgotten how the snow felt beneath my feet and how it felt in my hands as I formed large balls to throw maliciously at my younger brother. I had forgotten a lot of things; I had forgotten me.
It was colder than I remembered as a child. Perhaps it was because I had been stripped bare of my innocence. I was needy and insecure even though I had accomplished so much. I had become dependent on a man who despised clinginess; it wasn’t what he had admired about me. I knew it but his infidelity had made me unsure of who I was and even I was unsatisfied with who I had become.
I kept walking; I couldn’t see the cabin any longer and it was getting late. I felt myself at a crossroad; should I stay or should I go back to the cabin. It never felt like a choice before, of course I would go back to the cabin without debate, but things were different now. Here in the snow, there was no one and nothing familiar, it was bone chilling cold. On the surface that would seem like a bad thing, but now after all that had happened between Derek and I, staying in the unknown, the cold, empty white nothingness felt safe; it felt better than returning to the cabin where it was warm, where the cabinets were filled with food and my husband of eleven years was talking to another woman on the phone. His lover had followed us to the mountains, she knew our plans and she felt safe in interrupting them. My choice seemed simple; I chose the snow.
It was a long weekend. I’d stayed out in the snow until my toes began to grow numb. When I returned, I realized that I had been gone for almost two hours. Not once did Derek come to check on me. I felt nothing but a stone-like resolve not to cry and not to ask him who was on the phone. The look of guilt and the steak and shrimp dinner was my answer. It didn’t matter I was hungry and so I thanked my husband and acknowledged his efforts as I ate the food and drained the expensive wine to excess. I was tired of his apologies, tired of accusing and excusing him, tired of hearing his well-crafted reasons for why she would call, especially this weekend, our weekend. For the rest of our time at the cabin, I did what we both did best and that was pretending that things were fine and that our marriage was solid. We never talked, we never planned to save us and as we packed to leave on Sunday afternoon, she called again.
Snow always made things look brighter, cleaner, and fresher. It seemed to signal newness to me, and I felt different after returning from my walk in the snow; that feeling sustained me through the weekend and kept me focused on what I needed to do for me. Even before we left to head home, I secretly re-booked the cabin for two weeks later, just for me and was excited for what that would mean.
I felt drawn to the snow and to that A-frame cabin in the woods. I had been searching for something since Derek’s first admitted affair seven years ago. I thought that if I worked harder, forgave him more earnestly cried more, cried less, then things would change that he would change but I was wrong. No matter how hard I wished and forgave, no matter how hard I searched, me, him, things never got better, and I never found the reasons, and the answers for what had gone so wrong.
If I could thank Derek for anything, it would be for insisting we spend a weekend at a glorious A-frame cabin in the mountains. Though his purpose was to fix us, the fact was, he failed. Instead, unknowingly he pushed me to fix myself. It’s funny how a secret phone call had become a call to take a walk in the snow and what a walk it was. As it turned out there had been something hiding in the snow, something that had been lost and buried for years. This thing had been waiting to be discovered and I’m grateful that it was patient and willing to wait. I’m not angry with Derek and the woman who interrupted our weekend, I’d spent too much of my energy being angry that had only resulted in seven years of wasted time and tears. The walk out into the snow saved my life and as I walked and dug and turned over the frozen brown leaves buried in the snow, I found the most important thing of all; I found me; I found me!
About the Creator
I adore words and I love what happens when we grab them, sleep with them, holler and scream and laugh at them! I love what happens when we throw them in the air and watch them fall magically from our minds onto paper!