Last week, we sat in our living room relaying stories from our separation like war tales. We had our friend, Cynthia, in stitches.
There's Scott's Britney Spears story.
My LA drug den story.
An almost-bar fight Scott got into in Phoenix.
A crockpot full of pot roast in a cigarette smoke-filled room at Circus Circus in Vegas.
Seriously, we have many tales. Many. Tales.
Grace has heard most of mine but not many of Scott's so you can imagine her surprise when he relayed how friends in LA offered to introduce him to Britney Spears. It was a "we know her through our kids" kinda thing.
Grace: "YOU mean to tell me Britney Spears could have been my step-mom?!?!! OH. MY. GOD."
I immediately start singing, "Oh baby, baby...how was I supposed to know..."
Grace (laughing): "Mom, please. No. Just stop. Seriously, BRITNEY SPEARS???!?!?"
As we were taking turns sharing our individual journeys, I jumped in with, "Cynthia, did I tell you about the time my ex was in need of pot (his "medicine") so he took me to a drug house in LA?" Her eyes were like saucers.
Now to be completely upfront, he had offered to drop me off at the place we were staying in downtown LA (a son of an old friend) but I thought I'd feel safer just sitting in the car while he ran in to get the goods. For the record, I'm not completely against pot and have tried it a few times in my life but I am NOT a pot smoker. I knew it helped him (because he said it did), so I was accepting of it but that's as far as it goes. I've never seen cocaine or anything like that in real life. Read: Straight girl from a small town in Ohio.
Upon pulling up to the run down apartment in a pretty bad part of LA, I decided that maybe the safest route was going in with him. It was pretty late at night. God knows what would happen if I was sitting in the car on my own and I was noticed.
Long story short, this straight and narrow then-40-year-old mom from Flagstaff went into high octane small talk mode.
"So Joe, how long have you been here in LA? Was it hard to move from Philly?"
"Does your dog try to bite a lot, or is it just me? I'm normally like the dog whisperer."
"Clever use of this cot as a couch, I'd say! I know it's hard to furnish a home, isn't it?!"
(Unknown woman walks through the living room/AKA drug room and doesn't say a word.)
"Is he (guy laying on the floor motionless) OK? He's ok?? Ok, great. The mom in me wants to put a pillow under his head."
The more uncomfortable I get, the higher pitched my voice goes. By the time I'm asking if the dude on the floor is alive, I was likely only heard by the dog that was trying to bite me. This went on for a bit, because, of course, they had to test out the batch together.
"No, I'm good! None for me, thanks! (Cloud of pot smoke engulfs me and the not-dead-yet guy on the floor.)
Enhaler. Check. Scary "Mod Mom Busted In LA" headline flashing in my head. Check.
"Oh, you make edibles, too, Joe? Where did you learn to cook?" I was an unstoppable question machine that night. Just plop the old Kiersten down in the middle of a drug deal in LA and I will make everyone feel valued and comfortable. Accomodating and smoothing was my coping mechanism, especially when I felt powerless.
In stark contrast, Scott was being offered meet-ups with celebrities and weekends with wealthy women he knew but wasn't interested in at $500 per night hotels. (By the way, he didn't take either which speaks volumes about his integrity.)
Our night and day experiences during our three-year separation make for good stories, but more importantly, they make for a better marriage. Just being able to share it all openly—the good, the bad, and the Britney—has helped us get to know the older, wiser versions of Kiersten and Scott.
Good news! We truly do love each other and I haven't once had to ask, "Is that guy dead?"