She knew if she went home right after auditions that it would just be her and her mother. Dreading that kind of further interaction, she texted PJ and asked what he was doing. Rearranging his rented room after he cleaned up all the bedbugs. Gross. Still, she picked potential bedbugs over spending time at home. She grabbed both of them a double chocolate milk from the convenience store and headed over.
He had one too many pieces of furniture for his tiny room, and his birdcage was massive. All his clothes were out, begging for another infestation. She helped him put back all of his books while trying to rearrange his room in her head. He said it was like one of those cheap games as a kid where you had to move the pieces on the board, but there was only one open space. She had always preferred Tetris.
After getting his room to a livable state, they sat down to enjoy their drinks and talk. He was clearly tired from the day of moving heavy objects around, and the stress of maybe always having bedbugs as long as he lived in that space. He still wanted to have the talk though, and so reluctantly she began her story.
Mostly it was focused on her marriage and the difficulties facing that. The husband had relied on his charm to get him everywhere, and he wasn't sure what to do anymore. She had a suspicion that he wasn't even looking for a job anymore, which meant there was no end in sight to moving out of her mother's house. Her boss had paid her a dollar less than agreed on the last paycheck, and she was afraid to correct his mistake. It would be an awkward conversation, but one that needed to happen soon.
She told him a little of her auto-immune disease and how hard it was for her to even work at all. He was baffled by the behavior of the husband. He asked her "If I just bashed your knee in right now, and you were unable to work, what would he do?"
"The same thing he is doing now. He doesn't feel that need because he still thinks something good is about to happen to him. But we are at the beginning of debt now, I can't pay off my credit cards in full anymore. They money just isn't there. I'm drowning, and he's just standing by watching. Someone will always be there to fish him out, so he's just drowning and not worrying about it. There is no panic there."
"I wish I had a solution for you."
"I wish you did too, but until he gets a job, this situation will continue. Once we are both employed and out of the house, I need to seriously look into the relationship again and see what is there. Maybe we can work it out. I hope we can."
The conversation evolved into their friendship and how it was developing. He knew that occasionally she needed these one on ones to really connect, and he respected it. She apologized for assuming that she could use shorthand with him when he didn't have the whole story. "You still don't have the whole story, but at least you know now why I'm going to be prone to moodiness and depression occasionally."
He understood. One on one, she knew he would. Then the non-sequitur came.
"I don't want your husband to get hurt by our friendship. We know how this could go. I don't want my girlfriend to get hurt either."
"He's fine now. We had a talk after that night at the bar when he asked if he had to worry about you."
The husband had said in front of everyone "Do I have to worry about you leaving me for PJ?" She had felt so called out and angry that he had said that in front of everyone that she responded without thinking. "Maybe, have you seen him?" In the conversation at home that followed, she told him that the only thing he had to worry about was her leaving him for her own sanity. Another man would never be a problem. He understood that, and had been a little better since.
She told PJ, "I've always gotten along better with guys anyway, and he has always understood that up until you. I think he gets that what you and I have is something that he can't really give me. It's just not how he is built. That doesn't mean I'm leaving him for you, or that you are leaving your girlfriend for me, but he will get comfortable with that."
They both agreed that with their relationship, they had to be careful of not hurting anyone else's feelings. Even her BFF had expressed sadness over how close she and PJ had gotten. It wasn't the greatest way to start something that had started out so powerful, but it was the way it had to be.
The night ended with an extra long hug and the promise of a future.