My view the day before we left Portland.
We recently returned from a trip back east. I had a splendid time despite the fact that it rained most of the time we were in Chicago and, our flight to NYC was cancelled and rescheduled so that we had to travel on The Peacemaker’s birthday, something we didn’t want to have to do. But we did it and it all turned out fine. Our last day in NYC was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, blue skies, warm sunshine, gentle breeze, brightly colored leaves on and off the trees, brunch at a cute little Brooklyn bistro with both our boys. And, we even returned home to more sunshine. Crisp, sunny autumn days are my favorite.
Chicago River view before we departed our architectural boat tour and before the rain commenced in earnest.
Because of our situation, and because there is no forgetting what has transpired over the past few years, there were bumps in the road. Blue Eyes struggled in Chicago. He is deep into a new work project and that’s one of the reasons we were in Chicago in the first place: business. We also celebrated his birthday there. Birthdays have been difficult for Blue Eyes since going no contact with his family. I realize celebrating his birthday without the people who gave him life, and without the people who were there (good, bad or otherwise) for his entire youth, just sucks. Why can’t they be better people? An unanswerable question. They are toxic. Lots of people love Blue Eyes, but none of that matters when all you want is for your family to love and accept you unconditionally, and they just don’t. They’re not capable of absolute love.
Chicago River Architectural boat tour
I wasn’t really sure what was going on with Blue Eyes while we were in Chicago other than we both knew Chicago had been one of the trips he took with the last other woman. He was thinking this was the first time we had been in Chicago since he was there with her, but it wasn’t. He took her on a business trip in 2009. He and I visited Chicago in 2011, a little more than two years pre-dday. I was completely clueless that he had been there with another woman, because I was clueless about a lot of things. Chicago was never a big deal to me. I wanted to visit, we did, that’s it. When I found out he had taken her to Chicago, the bigger deal was that he left with her less than 24 hours after we had been together on a trip. Of course his business trip with her to Chicago was pre-planned, and all about his addiction, and so no matter how lovely our holiday was, no matter how much fun we had, or sex we had, no matter how perfect everything was, he would never cancel an opportunity to feed his addiction… he lived off those trips. Chicago definitely wasn’t, in my opinion, one of his more egregious betrayals in the scheme of things. But yeah, now he is living without those trips. Without his drug and his work life has become quite strenuous the past couple months.
As we sat eating room service breakfast on the morning of Blue Eyes’ birthday at the Four Seasons Chicago on the Magnificent Mile, with a gorgeous view of the lake I might add, Blue eyes apologized for having brought the other woman to Chicago and for just plain being who he is. The Peacemaker and I just stared at him in confusion, full mouths of food gaping open. No one had mentioned the other woman. The Peacemaker and I certainly weren’t thinking of her. I mean seriously, I don’t think the Peacemaker EVER thinks about Blue Eyes’ other women. He doesn’t know much about them and doesn’t want to know anything. They represent some seriously bad shit his father did while feeding an addiction and betraying and abandoning us in the process. We were confused as to why Blue Eyes brought her up at all, especially on his BIRTHDAY! He was definitely worn down and having some phantom pains left over from his arthritis days, specifically, inflamed joints. Even he realizes these are brought on by his own obsessive thoughts and psychosomatic tendencies. He had been walking with a limp for a couple days. The last thing I wanted was to be thinking about that horrifying creature during this special time with my boys, but I also didn’t want to appear frustrated with Blue Eyes on his birthday for being open and honest and voicing his own pain. After my trying to make light of the conversation by asking Blue Eyes if she had stalked him through the streets of Chicago with her camera, which The Peacemaker said didn’t sound that strange (WHAT???), we diverted the conversation quickly away from the other woman.
Frank Lloyd Wright home.
After breakfast we headed out to the Oak Park suburb of Chicago. We toured the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, the Unitarian church he designed, as well as a dozen other FLW designed homes in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district.
I love love love architecture and specifically home design, so I was in heaven strolling the leaf strewn streets of Oak Park. The strangest part of the day, however, was seeing a book titled ‘Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders’ in the studio gift shop. I was prompted to google Frank Lloyd Wright to get the full story and what a strange story it is. Of all the FLW architecture I have seen, I had never heard about his personal life or about these murders nor did I realize he was a serial cheater. I didn’t realize he left his wife and six children for his mistress or that his mistress abandoned her own husband and children in order to be with Wright. OR, that his mistress (his first wife refused to grant him a divorce for many more years) her children, and others living in Wright’s home in Wisconsin were brutally murdered by axe as the house (named Taliesin by Frank Lloyd Wright) burned around them. His personal story continued to be fraught with trouble and yet his career flourished. We learned many other details about Frank Lloyd Wright, the man, and the architect, during our tour. I found the whole thing fascinating.
Miraculously, on our last day in Chicago, after Blue Eyes finished with his business meetings, his joint pain vanished. I was certainly grateful, but it does beckon the question… how much control does he have over his ailments that they just magically disappear? While Blue Eyes was at meetings, The Peacemaker and I took a four mile walk in the pouring rain, pounded by wind, to Millenium Park and The Art Institute of Chicago. It was worth it.
Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, at Millenium Park.
Playing around with photography in the reflection of The Bean
I never tire of the Van Gogh’s. The Drinkers, 1890. Art Institute of Chicago.
And Claude Monet is my artistic hero. Cliff Walk at Pourville, 1882. Art Institute of Chicago.
Although we had a lovely time in Chicago, we were anxious to arrive NYC. Our late afternoon flight from Chicago to LaGuardia had been canceled, so we stayed an additional night in chi-town and headed to NY the next morning. To be honest, Manhattan is a bit dicier for me in terms of the betrayal trauma. New York City was the trip Blue Eyes refused to divulge until I was ready to walk out the door that fateful May afternoon in 2014. Finding out about their trip to New York precipitated my ER visit that day. It wasn’t really so much about NYC, per se, but just that he continued to lie and lie and lie and lie. I have been to New York a few times since discovery and trauma has haunted me there. This time, however, I refused to let anything bother me. Sometimes when I wake up next to Blue Eyes in a strange hotel room, disoriented for the briefest of moments, I think of him lying in a strange hotel room bed with the other woman. Those thoughts have devastated me in the past. Not any more. I have power over those visions, those conjured memories, now. I have put my foot down. I will not have the happiness in my life stolen away by memories of my husband’s bad acts.
By the time we reached our hotel last Wednesday afternoon, even though we were exhausted and I desperately needed a shower, it was The Peacemaker’s birthday and his wish was our command. He wanted Ivan Ramen. The Netflix series Chef’s Table did an episode on Ivan Orkin and his famed ramen, which we have watched twice now. We therefore took the subway from the Theater District down to the Lower East Side and walked over to Clinton Street so the boys could have their ramen. Blue Eyes’ days of pain and limping were long gone as he fairly well jogged to Ivan Ramen from the train station. To say my husband and my son are obsessed with ramen, is, frankly, an understatement.
Triple Pork, Triple Garlic Mazemen Ramen from Ivan Ramen (all my pictures have my men gobbling up the ramen as soon as it was served, so I stole this pic off the web).
In case you think I’m kidding about the ramen addiction, here is a bowl of miso ramen The Peacemaker made tonight for dinner from Ivan Orkin’s recipe. I made the homemade chicken broth from two chickens I baked yesterday, and he made the miso base and ground pork mixture. The noodles were purchased fresh from our local Asian Grocery Store. We realize this is not a healthy daily food option, but it is our fall favorite comfort food of the moment.
After our late lunch and on our way back to our hotel, we passed one of Blue Eyes’ all time favorite places, Russ and Daughters. I waited outside while they purchased their treats (fish and bagels and rugelach, etc…). I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had purchased Chocolate Babka for me. A New York City favorite. YUM!
That evening we had late night dinner reservations with our older son and some of his friends at Raoul’s French Bistro Restaurant in SoHo.
We all squeezed into this cozy booth at the back of the restaurant. The place was hopping for a Wednesday night at 10:00pm.
Most of the table feasted on Raoul’s famous au poivre steak frites (although I had the rack of lamb).
And The Peacemaker did Totally Caroline proud by ordering the decadent profiteroles doused in chocolate sauce for his birthday dessert.
By the time we arrived back at our hotel and climbed into bed, it was well past 2:00am. The next day it was a bit drizzly out. The Peacemaker and I slept in, lounged around and read books while Blue Eyes took meetings all over the city. Not being alone in a hotel room sure helps take my mind off any unsavory happenings in the past.
Friday, The Peacemaker and I met his older brother + girlfriend for delicious Dim Sum in Chinatown.
Dim Sum Go Go
Then we headed uptown for a nice afternoon visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Guggenheim Museum where we took in the Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World special exhibit. Very interesting indeed. I love the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. Each time I am there they have a different selection of paintings on view with an exceptional collection of Kandinsky, Gauguin, Picasso, etc…
It was a gorgeous night in New York City. We then met up with Blue Eyes at Grom Italian Gelato. Totally Caroline introduced me to Grom Gelato in Paris and I must say, I adore it!!! Especially the whipped cream… you must order it with the whipped cream!
I never stray from the chocolate!
Sadly, we had only allotted a week back east and our flight home left us barely enough time to head over to Brooklyn and have brunch with our NY Boy. We had also forgotten that on check in, our hotel had given us a half dozen or so free drink tickets for the bar, so before leaving our hotel, Blue Eyes and I order iced tea and lemonades (we don’t drink much alcohol) and The Peacemaker ordered himself a Moscow Mule.
Not a pivotal part of the trip, but I thought this drink was just so pretty, especially the copper straw.
We had a fantastic time. We celebrated two birthdays and were together as a family. The themes of the trip were definitely family, food, art & architecture and it was a whole lot of fun.
I can honestly say that I have come to a point where I can now travel, in airports (even our home airport, a place I dreaded for months and a place where the other woman stalked me), on airplanes, in hotels, in cities my husband visited with his acting out partner, anywhere, everywhere, and not feel a bit of trauma. I didn’t actually know at first whether this day would ever arrive, but it has. I am no longer in the throes of trauma. I no longer think about them together. I no longer double over in pain at the thought of his betrayal. I no longer question my choice to stay. I no longer cry tears of sadness at what I thought I had lost.
So, where did all those trauma feelings go? I don’t know, but they are no longer haunting me, and for that I am grateful.