Thursday, February 18, 2010


Indiscretions, 2003

Infidelities. I’m no expert on the topic. But it seems to me that it’s a heavy burden to carry a load of infidelity on your back.

There’s a couple that meets on one of the quiet streets near my mother’s nursing home each weekday afternoon for what I presume the kids would call a “hookup.” At one time you could see them from my mother’s window, which is the only reason I know much about their habits.

The area around the nursing home is pretty neutral: mostly doctor’s offices, two hospitals, four nursing homes, an assisted living facility, a dialysis facility, some condos that face away from the street and a bank. In short, very few judgmental “neighborhood eyes.”

It took me a little while to recognize what the couple was up to. But now you can pretty much set your watch by her arriving first and arranging her hair in the rear view window. Then the man arrives and parks behind her. He quickly scans the surroundings before getting into her car. A few minutes later the windows are fogged. Then he leaves, straightening his shirt as he gets back into his car and drives away. You get the picture. Maybe they live close by. Maybe this nondescript street is a good place for them to meet on the way home from work.

Year ago, when I rode the bus back and forth to work in Richmond, there was a regular bunch, most of them city or state workers, who got on at the suburban end of the line and rode the bus all the way downtown. They were a congenial bunch. They sat in the same seats every day. There were the jokesters and the ones who just wanted to read the newspaper. Conversations started in the morning picked back up on the afternoon bus home and sometimes spilled over to the next day.

Among the regulars, and always seated together in the very back row of the bus, was a middle aged man and a younger woman who I knew weren’t married to each other. (I know this because I saw her husband and his wife drop them off at the bus stop each morning.) They sat close together and held hands, whispering into each other’s ears and gazing at each other like young lovers. At noon you could see them stroll hand in hand from City Hall over to Capitol Square. In the afternoon, they sat together again in the back row as the bus rambled back out to the suburbs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve known enough people in profoundly unhappy relationships to know that infidelity may be their only respite. But it still tugged at my heart each afternoon when the bus would get to the end of the line, we’d all line up to get off and Ray and Sue, always mindful to have a few people between them as they stepped off the Patterson #2 bus, walked over to where their spouses and children waited to greet them.


  1. This photo is a wonderful accompaniment to your story today. Love it. I wonder what they'd think if they knew someone was aware of their trysts. I think some folks just have to have drama in their lives, don't you?