A five-week honeymoon in South America.
What could go wrong?
Our relationship was already struggling to stay afloat. Kind of like ripping the rudder off on the dock while casting off. The Titanic at least made it out to open waters before sinking. We didn’t make it out of port.
Perhaps a skilled captain could have navigated the choppy relationship waters and found a way to keep everything afloat.
I am not a skilled captain.
But I absolutely made sure I went down with the ship.
Prior To Departure
Our wedding day and honeymoon bookended about six-weeks of open space. We needed time for her to receive her new passport, plus we figured South America would be that much warmer if we waited further into the continent’s summer months.
Those six weeks weren’t all that eventful. Outside of me finding out she was still shacking up with the guy she’d been shacking up with prior to our wedding.
A minor detail.
Needless to say, we were not in the best of places when the time to leave for our honeymoon came.
We lived together yet I couldn’t look at her. We shared the same bed yet I couldn’t sleep next to her. When she’d return from work my heart would jump from excitement before falling down a ravine and bursting into pieces. Like a lenticular work of art, I’d see her for the woman I loved before the angle changed and she became a stranger I hardly knew.
And I hated it.
In ways I hated her.
It wouldn’t be a lie to say I looked forward more to the honeymoon than the wedding. She stole the idea of perfect honeymoon and stuffed it in a sack with my heart and soul.
What she did with that sack I don’t know.
Why did I decide to go with her? Why didn’t I just cut her loose and enjoy the trip on my own? All good questions. Basically, I wasn’t sure if my ticket would be canceled if I tried to check in to the airline without the other half of my party. I figured it wouldn’t, but I also didn’t want to find out.
Besides, shouldn’t five-weeks in a dream destination help right the ship?
No. It didn’t.
Because the last thing you want to do when you despise someone is spend weeks on end with that person in a place neither of you speaks the language.
Every step in Peru. Every cab ride in Chile. Every dinner out in Argentina, I found the void in my chest begin to consume myself.
When your heart is gone it just isn’t an empty space. It creates a vacuum, and something needs to fill that space.
I very quickly lost my mind.
I thought of ways to escape. Maybe during the next cab ride I’d let her get in first, then dart away as the car rolled her out of my life. I considered slipping out at night. I dreamed of some mystery goddess coming down from the heavens and taking me away.
None of that happened.
I couldn’t return back home on my own. That wouldn’t be good. Especially if something happened to her. Murder charges were not things I wanted to deal with.
So instead, as we toured Machu Picchu and watched the crashing Pacific Ocean waves from a clay tennis court in Chile, I considered how I could share my hurt. How I could off load some of my burden onto her.
A childish line of reasoning, but I was becoming desperate. I was starting to worry my own thoughts would jump off the next bridge and take my body along with it.
Although then maybe she would have had to deal with the murder charges.
Instead, what I came up with was making her feel less than whole. To feel inadequate.
Like she’d made me feel.
I’m not proud of it. I don’t even know if it’s something I’ve told many (or any).
But it is the only logical reasoning behind some of the questions I’d eventually ask.
The “What If” Game
Our honeymoon jumped around South America a bit. We landed in Lima, went down and did the Machu Picchu thing, hopped on a few buses through northern Chile, and had found ourselves in Santiago, waiting for a flight to take us to Easter Island.
That morning the manager of our hotel accused us of trying to leave without paying. Not sure how that’s possible when it’s pre-booked and pre-paid, but that was the start of our day. Nothing like using Google Translate at 4 AM while you’re trying to make it to the airport on time (and this was Google Translate circa 2010, so it wasn’t exactly as accurate as the current rendition).
Eventually, we made it out, but there weren’t any taxis driving around the neighborhood at such an early hour. I also didn’t want to walk back into the hotel, wake up the manager, and ask him to call a cab.
That left the two of us alone, walking the streets of Santiago with our backpacks, for several hours. Nothing to do but to think, and to talk.
We’d exhausted our talking points over the previous two-weeks. The conversations we really needed to have were always there, lingering, but neither one of us wanted to fully dive in.
Deep down we both knew what would eventually happen when we returned home. We didn’t talk about that.
We didn’t need to.
Instead, we often played the “what if” game. We’d throw out random, hypothetical questions involving futures we knew would never come to pass. But thinking of improbable futures was easier than focusing on logical ones.
She asked me if I envisioned us being friends should everything continue down the same path. I guess her question remained grounded in a likely future.
I told her I didn’t know.
We had struggled to stay cordial the entire time. Many nights ended poorly. The hotel we’d been accused of sneaking out of had a bunk bed in our room. We used it.
I didn’t know what to ask. At least I didn’t know what real or even potential hypothetical question to ask. But I knew what question would make her feel less than whole. Would make her feel inadequate.
If we broke up what would you do if I dated your sister?
She didn’t like that question.
I knew she wouldn’t.
She’d always felt second fiddle to her sister. The thinner sister. The better-proportioned sister. The sister all the guys hit on growing up.
Over the years she’d often talk about the jealousy of her younger sister without ever outright saying it.
She never had a weight problem. She just wasn’t thin like her sister. She’d dealt with that comparison her entire life.
She would complain about how her breasts sagged a little, while her sister’s were perky. How her sister had the kind of booty all jeans looked good on.
Every physical comparison she ever made was always to her sister. And, in her own mind, she almost always lost.
I’d always told her I didn’t care about sisters, I was in love with her.
And in one little question, I reminder her of everything her sister had and that she didn’t. Including, hypothetically, me.
The entire honeymoon I struggled putting the images and messages from my wife’s not-so-secret fling out of my mind. I couldn’t. Nor could I pull myself out of that dark place slowly consuming me. So instead I did what I could to drag her down with me.
To her credit, she eventually answered. She said if the two of us were happy then she’d get over it.
Did that mean yes, I could?
I didn’t ask again.
I thought I’d enjoy seeing her squirm a bit, but she avoided any visible turmoil, and I felt myself slip a bit deeper into the abyss.
Thankfully Easter Island proved to be more than a desirable distraction. Exploring the island, posing with heads permanently frozen in time. Making friends with the stray dogs. Wondering how a tomato and basil sandwich could cost $80. All welcome distractions.
For a moment it almost felt like we were on an actual honeymoon.
That feeling didn’t last forever.
Nor did the marriage.
Although one thing from that entire honeymoon has survived the test of time.
I still wouldn’t mind going out on a date with the sister.
Source : Medium