Wednesday morning and I felt exactly like Emma Thompson in ‘Love Actually’ when she finds out her husband has bought a gold necklace as a Christmas present and given it to someone else. ‘I am a classic fool’ says her husband when he gets caught. ‘Yes and you’ve made the life I lead foolish too’ says Emma.
Wiping kid’s noses, changing nappies, sewing costumes for the school play, dentist appointments, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, taking the dog to the vet, organising birthday parties, writing thank you notes to the in-laws, volunteering at the local playgroup, reading bedtime stories, driving to and fro with kids in and out of car seats, washing dishes, cleaning up vomit, doctors visits, and the hundreds of other things that I did….felt worthless, WORTHLESS, knowing my husband was in a hotel in London screwing someone else.
Is it worse that the woman he was screwing was a young Italian girl who used to be the family au pair. Yes!
I thought we were in this together? Till death do us part? I thought my husband was on my team. A person to count on when your car breaks down and you’re stuck on the side of the road. A person who roots for you when you go for a job interview and is as disappointed as you are when you don’t get it. The person who wants you to be happy, even if it means it doesn’t include them.
The framework I had of my marriage and life and what love was – was smashed to smithereens. And I had no idea how I was going to figure any of this out.
I made a strong black coffee and I walked around my kitchen and house looking at it. Examining the things that made up my life, there was a framed photograph of my wedding day on a table in our foyer. I wanted to break it but instead turned it over. There were toys and a baby gym and a toddler’s car and muslins on the arm of the sofa. It looks like a house filled with a happy family. A family that maybe embrace the chaos and don’t sweat the small stuff.
I walked over to my desk by the window, overlooking a cherry tree we had planted when we moved here, a gift from a close friend when our daughter was born. More photos of kids and family, my parents on a boat on holiday, my Dad wearing his Mets t-shirt. It stung to think I’d have to tell them this.
I sat down and thought about Caterina and her parents. They came to visit here, when she lived with us and came for tea to meet our family. I felt furious. How dare she!? How dare they raise such a child!
Of course it’s crazy but suddenly I wanted to phone them. Tell them what their daughter had done to my family. I wanted to write them a letter; I wanted to ruin her life, as she has ruined mine. I opened my desk drawer and started to rifle through the papers and books and mess. A folder, that is what I wanted a folder labelled ‘AU PAIRS’ it must be in here.
I found it; this had the applications for all the au pairs who had come to live with us over the years. The applications would arrive by email but I always printed them out if I hired them, to have their contact details at hand in the event of an emergency.
There is was: Caterina Elia at the top. Her address, her email and phone numbers. Parent’s names, a personal statement: ‘trustworthy, good with children, hard working, honest, reliable.’ Simmering with anger I threw the application back in the drawer and slammed it shut. I understood the words ‘crime of passion’ for the first time in my life. I wanted to kill her. And if she had been there, I might have tried.
I have to get out of here, I thought. I am not going to be in this house. I’m not going to cook or clean or wash clothes and do any of that stuff. If I’m miserable, I’m going to be miserable with someone else doing the housework and the cooking, and someone can wait on me for a change.
I went online and typed in ‘luxury travel’ and a long list appeared. Scott Dunn caught my eye, ‘boutique London travel experts specialising in luxury holidays.’
I know what I was thinking and right or wrong, this is how I felt at the time:
My husband has been in luxury hotels, probably eating and drinking to his heart’s content. Clearly money was no object if he was at Browns Hotel. My husband was there with our au pair, having sex with her. So I am going to do what I want, when I want and how I want. I don’t care what it costs and I don’t mind if I do.
‘Hi this is Alison at Scott Dunn, how can I help?’
‘I’d like to go on a last minute holiday, leaving as soon as possible. Tomorrow would be ideal or I guess on Friday. Just as soon as possible. Somewhere warm. For a week. Or two.’
‘Okay, well, this time of year I can recommend the Caribbean, or South East Asia or Dubai. How many will be travelling?’
‘Well it has to be family friendly, I’m taking my children. So one adult and three kids.’ SHIT, the baby doesn’t have a passport. ‘No, one adult and two kids. Preferably not somewhere with a big difference in time zone, so how many hours difference is Dubai?’
‘It’s four hours, so not bad. Let’s see, let me have a look, how about Mauritius? It is the perfect time of year to go there as it’s not too hot and the time difference is fine. BA flies once a week on a Friday, returning on a Sunday, an overnight flight both ways, so doesn’t cut into holiday time. You can sleep on the plane.’
I’d never been to Mauritius and I knew it was French but didn’t know much about it except it was quite far south in the Indian Ocean. ‘Sounds perfect’ I said.
‘Okay, I’ll check availability with our partner hotels, and let me check the flights for you and get back to you shortly. How old are the children travelling?’ she asked.
‘Three and one and go ahead and book the one year old a seat, she’ll need to sleep. Call me back, I’m really keen. Oh yea, and one more thing, book a suite, I’d like to really have a lovely room. You know with a sitting room with a sofa. Overlooking the sea if possible, with a balcony. I really need to feel like I’m on holiday.’
Nothing upset my husband quite like spending money unnecessarily. I knew what I was doing would anger him in a very particular way. And I didn’t care one little bit.