She was nervous. There was no telling how he might react. He watched football in the living room, the dog draped across his lap and his bottle of beer in his hands. Ben's eyes were so intent on the game, she felt she could have left the house then and it would be weeks before he missed her.
I'll wait until half-time, she thought.
Anne went to her meditation room up in the attic where she had placed her Buddha statues and a translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Joseph gave her when the first met. She closed her eyes and brought her attention to her breathing. The sounds of the game echoed in her ears. It was too much. Can't he see what I'm going through, she thought. Can't he tell that I'm about to make one of the biggest decisions in my life?
After what seemed like hours, her alarm chimed and her session was over. She had been restless, but kept her mind going back to her breath, her anchor, her connection to her body no matter where her mind wanted to wander.
She went to the bedroom and turned the game on, the same one he watched. Anne turned the volume down, but eyed the screen so she could see when halftime started and then she could talk to him. She touched her chest and took out her mala and began changing the 100 syllable mantra, hoping that the sound of her own voice would drown out the sounds of the game. "Om Benza Sato Samaya
Manupalaya." Every so often, she opened her eyes and peaked at the score on the television set. The Bears are winning, she thought. He'll be in a good mood.
When the game reached halftime, she stole into the living room and approached him. "Can I get you another beer, or some chips or something?" she said. I am such a coward, she thought. Thinking if I do him a favor he'll take the news well.
He shifted in his chair. The dog yawned. "I'm good," he said. "Are you okay? You're acting a little weird today."
She felt her weight alternate from one foot to another. "I've been working up the nerve to tell you something," she said.
He sat up and the dog jumped down to the floor and scurried away. He set his beer down. "This can't be good," Ben said. "Let's hear it then. Tell me what you've been meaning to tell me."
"I've decided to go for refuge," she said. Her right hand went to her mala tucked under her shirt. "It's time."
His eyebrows narrowed. "What the hell does that mean?" he said. "You're going somewhere?"
She shook her head. "Nothing like that," she said. "It just means I'm officially becoming a Buddhist."
He shrugged and took a sip from his beer and turned to watch the TV again. "Sounds like bunch of hooey, but it's your life. Do what you've got to do."
"It's not a bunch of hooey," she said. "It's my religion. You know that. I'm just making it official, that's all."
"And that's fine," he said. "Don't get defensive. I'm not trying to stop you or anything."
"You couldn't stop me," she said.
He rose from his chair. "And I'm not trying to. That's not what I meant. You know that."
"Do I? Do I really?"
He raised his voice just a bit. "I'm not going to pretend that I understand any of this, because I don't. The girl I married was an atheist. I don't know who you are anymore. "
"I've been growing," she said.
Ben sighed. "You've been changing," he said. "Go and do what you think is best. Join an ashram. Give all your money to an Indian in diapers for all I care. It's none of my business anymore."
"I love you," she said.
"I love you too," he said. "I don't know how this turned into an argument. I want you to be happy, and if this is what makes you happy, I support you. You know that."
She went to him and hugged him. Anne wanted her words to be true. She wanted to love him the way she just said she did. But she knew it was a lie. Suddenly she knew that she hadn't loved him for years. My marriage has been over for a long time, she thought. I didn't know it until now. She held him tighter, thinking that if she held him tightly enough she could put the pieces back in place.