That Tammy Wynette song is only half-right. Giving all your love to just one man is hard, but I've got two. One on the East Coast and one on the Left Coast. Neither knows about the other and, boy, is managing that a difficult challenge. But I have enough love to share.
My job helps. I own a crisis management business. We don't handle natural disasters or wars or such. Just nasty divorces, arrests, old racist social media posts, booze or drug problems—all the glitterati stuff happening in California, New York, or Washington, D.C. Hopping between two homes in Los Angeles and Virginia is pretty easy to explain.
I didn't start out wanting this. I could have exercised the self-control I advise for clients, but "do as I say not as I do," I guess. Anyway, both husbands travel, too, and there are no kids, so there's no harm. And the change of scene keeps me energized for both.
How do I manage? Simple. Index cards. One set for each guy. I'm looking at the Steve cards now on my flight to California. For the flight back to D.C., I have the Peter cards in my laptop bag. I update them to keep everything straight. I don't want to mix the story arcs because then my worlds would collide like in that Seinfeld episode.
I've been married to Peter for 10 years. I met him at a book signing just after I turned 30, and we hit it off. He's a law school professor with the glasses, tweed jacket, and goatee. Serious and solid. He speaks in full paragraphs after a bit of thought.
Steve, also a lawyer, is the opposite. He handles licensing and copyright deals. He is an energy burst, constantly tossing out idea fragments just to hear how they sound. He never wears a tie, not even when we got married. That was okay because it was only a fake Elvis ceremony in Las Vegas. He didn't push for more. We've been together for three years and "married" for two.
I focused on my Steve cards. I always phone the guy I'm not with, so there were updates about what Steve was working on, his family, a recent doctor's visit. He's also hot on a local political issue. It took half an hour to review to get confident with it all. Study time over, I dozed and read.
Imagine my amazement when Peter was waiting for me in the terminal. I was in shock. Here was my East Coast husband. In California. He was supposed to be in New York at a conference. My worlds were suddenly colliding.
"Surprise!" he said with a huge smile, sweeping me into a tight hug.
"What are you doing here?!" I asked when I recovered.
"I wanted to see you. To say good-bye in person."
"Oh, you found her," said my California guy, Steve, coming up behind me.
I nearly peed myself from fear. Steve handed Peter a Starbucks coffee.
"You've got outstanding taste in guys, Cheryl," Peter told me. "Steve and I get along great."
My mouth must have been hanging open.
"You like lots of men in your life, honey, so I'd like to add two more guys: Bob and Larry."
Bob approached shyly. Larry had a smirk.
When they got close enough to touch me, Bob handed me an envelope and said something I didn't hear while Larry took a photo. They then turned and walked away.
Peter looked at me with a sad smile.
"I thought about having the divorce papers served on you back home, but then I thought, 'Screw it. I've never been to Hawaii.' So, I decided to save a trip. And it gave me a chance to have a nice long chat with Steve here. In person, I mean. We've obviously talked on the phone."
Then Steve spoke.
"And I'm just here to tell you the locks are changed on the condo and to give you the key to the storage unit where I dumped your stuff."
He put it in my hand as I just stared at them both.
"How?" Peter asked, anticipating my unformed question.
"Simple. I found your cards. Very interesting. And detailed. Found Steve here easily. I was at the Justice Department before. I'm not totally clueless. Just too trusting. My bad."
Then the guys gave each other a hug and a handshake, turned, and parted ways, leaving me with my mouth still hanging wide open.