Goose asked me if I’ve ever been to Marquette, IA. I had been there actually. It’s a beautiful town on the Mississippi River between Iowa and Wisconsin. I had been to a fall festival there about two years ago. “But have you seen the River Boat?” I had not, so off we went.
The day is sunny and cold after all of the snow from yesterday. During the winter, the sunny bright days are usually cold and the warm days seem to bring snow. Traveling today will be much easier on my nerves. Since we both love music, Goose finds a Rock station on the radio. Before long we were both singing along to the Beatles. It’s brought about a youthful reminiscence to both of us. As I look over at Goose I don’t see a balding middle-aged guy sitting there. Instead there’s a light-hearted, laughing, singing, happy guy! Neither of us have a care in the world. I lost track of time. Because time didn’t really matter. I’m with Goose and we’re happy in the day. No kids, no jobs, no bills, no worries. Til.. his cell phone went ‘ding’. He pulled it out of his shirt pocket and glanced at the screen. Then slid it back into the pocket. The laughing stopped. His mind has travelled far outside of the car. It’s as if I’m in here alone. Whatever it was on his phone he was keeping to himself. I allowed Goose his privacy. If he wants me to know, he’ll tell me. (In other words, I was afraid to ask.) But in my gut, I knew. The Minneapolis girl has texted him. My light heart sank to the floor of the car.
We were both quiet now as the radio filled the awkward silence. And then another ‘ding’. Again he pulled the cell phone from his pocket, glanced at the screen and then slid it back into his pocket. (Ouch.) I felt like stepping out of the car while he read the note on his phone. I felt as if I were the intruder. He’s had her in his life for the past year. And now I’m sitting here interrupting their relationship. Her ‘ding’ created a disconnection between Goose and I. The closeness and joy I had been feeling were now replaced with sadness and disappointment. I was disappointed in Goose, but I was more disappointed in myself. I had believed him. I had trusted him. I believed that she was gone from his life. I wanted more than anything not to be sitting here next to him. I wanted to disappear, to be invisible. In that moment, sitting next to Goose, while he reads her words… I was indeed invisible. She had recaptured Goose. Her bait is a fantasy. One that he wants or needs much more than he wants or needs me.
We pulled into the parking lot of the Riverboat Casino. It was getting dark outside, and the evening chill in the air has set in. There’s a light haze in the air around the light posts. Quietly, we get out of the car and Goose walks two steps ahead of me into the entrance doors of the Casino. It’s a real boat that’s docked on the river’s edge. Inside, a smoke-filled, noisy room with low ceilings and crowded walk ways. I feel a little claustrophobic but it has little to do with the dimensions of the casino. I’m here with a man who’d rather be with someone else. We’re 150 miles from my car in Goose’s driveway. I feel stuck and sad.
Goose is leading me through the crowd to the teller’s window to get registered for a player’s card. He’s not speaking at all. He walks, I follow. Once I had a players card, I excused myself to the ladies’ room. I had to regroup. I had to breathe. I called Tammy. Tammy likes casinos and has been to this riverboat before. I told her I’d gotten a players card. She acted like I was one of her kids who had made a major life accomplishment. Then I told her about the ‘dings’ and how the mood of our day has been altered.
Tammy’s advice is to ask the questions I’ve been avoiding all weekend. She reminded me that since he keeps wanting to date me, that I have a right to ask what the status of the Minneapolis girl is. Denial is a coping mechanism. It serves an important purpose. It protects us from the things we aren’t yet ready to see or to know. But denial isn’t working for me anymore. I already feel terrible. I already feel loss and disappointment. Would hearing the truth from Goose be any worse that what I’m imagining?