I was in the middle of a live-in relationship. I was broke, overworked, underpaid, bills piling up. My live-in boyfriend was out of work and I was at the end of my thread. I knew I loved him, but the supporting of him, it became too much. It wasn't his fault and I didn't blame him. But at home it was a lot of pressure. If things didn't go well and I couldn't provide, it was all on me.
At work, Ernests long distance voice was steady, sexy, inviting. We began to instant message each other. I noticed he was calling more often with 'problems' that didn't really need my attention. He lingered on the phone more than usual. Then one day a text message went too far...and we began an online fling.
Nothing serious, no real harm in this is there? We weren't hurting anyone. He was married with two children. I was in a committed relationship with two children of my own. He was in another state away....just out of reach.
Almost out of reach, that is.
Have you ever had an online affair? Just a few little words, properly timed, can send a whirlwind of emotions. I found myself running to the computer...checking my emails...re-reading saved messages before I went home.
He told me that we'd met before, and I didn't remember him. I remembered the situation where we met, I did something goofy to break the ice as usual. But his actual face was a blank. My co-worker Jenny told me that he was handsome: a tall drink of water with a deep voice and a great sense of humor that smelled good enough to eat. But I didn't remember.
The not remembering was enough to drive me bonkers. He told me he was 6 foot and five inches tall. I'm just under five foot five inches, surely I'd remember him? I didn't.
He was a different person than I was. He hunted and fished as often as he could every season. He told stories about his adventures that made me laugh more than I had in a few years. He was from a big family that was pretty well known in his small Arkansas town. He was what some people would call "good people". He was a good ol' boy.
The ease at which he told his stories and the sound of his voice could hold me for hours. His text and instant messages were choppy, but sweet. My favorite text message came at the end of the evening..."Goodnight, Baby doll." As archaic as this sounds, I loved that he called me Baby doll.
That he entered into an online fling with me at all, of course, indicated that he wasn't happy at home. He gave me the list of reasons why he was unhappy. They, of course, all made sense. I've heard other men try to entice me into an extra curricular relationships before and I was never impressed. But when Ernest gave me the exact lines they did, they made sense to me, I felt sad for him. I wanted to comfort him.
I also needed comfort. My live-in boyfriend wanted to be there for me. But in my opinion he was part of my problems. I needed someone who could hold me and make me feel secure. I needed someone who could protect me from all that was bad, dark and evil in my world. I needed an escape from reality. I dove head first into our communications without any forethought. I just leaped into this online thing and for a while it did the trick. I'd be having a tense day, look up to the IM screen and bam, quick as that, I was better.
Every day I'd log on to instant message before I even got coffee, just to see if he was online. A "Busy today, thinking of you..." would get me through a tough morning. I was important to someone for just being me. I didn't provide anything to Ernest but myself, via phone or computer. And I was still desirable. That felt good.
He was a branch manager, and I worked in the main branch office. I had scant thoughts that he'd be sent my way again soon for some meeting or other and that we'd actually have to meet face to face. That both terrified me and excited the hell out of me.
When he called at the end of January and said he'd be here the first week of February, I felt my stomach slam directly into my ass. It tingled back up again and my nerves shot off with adrenaline like wild fire. Thoughts filled my head: "Oh, shit. I may actually have to meet him. Something like this would crush my boyfriend. What the hell are you doing? I wonder if his eyes are as beautiful as his voice."
The week or so before he arrived in town, I was on edge. I barely ate, I exercised more, I was on the jittery edge. And that day came. And he was terrific.
We met for drinks after work with co-workers. I kissed him goodnight.
The next night, after a day of torture, the same co-worker group went out for dinner. I kissed him again at the end of the evening. Harder to go home that second night. It was more than just a kiss. It was a make out session in my car. There was mood music and steamy music. Every time I'd go to leave there was another kiss...another hug...
When he left after work the next day, he immediately called. He said he left something of his in my town and he'd be back to pick it up. I asked what he'd left. He said "you". He was going to make arrangements to make us more permanent. He hoped I would do the same.
Over the next two weeks, he did just that. He moved out of his house and got a roommate. And he called to say he wanted to come back to see me. We both knew what we wanted to do. We couldn't get each other out of our heads. Our little make out session fueled the fire for two weeks. We wanted more.
He picked the date, I got an excuse to be gone for a day, and we met. We wasted time on lunch, and went back to his room. We were timid and gentle at first. But we had out and out sex that day five times. We'd stop for a drink of soda and a smoke and then go right back to sex. We explored each others bodies over and over. We needed to.
At the end of the month, we were both fired from our jobs because of the relationship. And because we used company electronics to communicate with each other. It was a huge company scandal!
I asked my boyfriend to move out, and Ernest came to visit me on Mothers Day weekend. We slept in, talked for hours, enjoyed our time together.
But we had problems we couldn't brush away. We had families and children depending upon us.
He was concerned for his son and step daughter. He felt he should stay with them and his wife. I eventually agreed. But I would have picked up my kids and moved out there with him. I would have done anything to have him hold me forever.
The whole time we were together, I expressed my desire to not be reduced to an affair to remember. I told him "I don't want to be just a story about just a girl you screwed in X town". I wanted it to work.
It didn't work, tho, and getting over that took longer than I'll ever admit. Losing the job was no big deal. Losing Ernest and becoming 'that girl' he had sex with...becoming nothing to him, that was harder to deal with.
I'm pretty happy now. It's been over three years. Sometimes I still catch myself thinking of him. Sometimes I can still feel him, smell him. I can still hear his voice deep in my heart. Oh, it's not every day, it's not even every week. But he's embedded in my heart. Funny how some experiences just mean more than others.
I think it will take a few more years to completely forget Ernest Thaxton.