Mike had a trip to Chicago planned and I insisted on tagging along. I haven’t been back in way too long and I was already messaging Kendra so we could meet up.
“Let me talk to John and see if that’s a good idea,” she said.
And I was like, “Really? You have to ask your husband if it’s okay to see your *best friend*?”
She said back, “There’s still a pandemic going on and I’m still pregnant.”
I could totally hear the know-it-all tone she was using. A few days later, she let me know that she’d be able to meet me for lunch, but it had to be at a specific place and she only had 45 minutes. Thanks for making me a priority!!!
Obviously Mike had meetings scheduled back to back to fucking back from the moment we stepped off the plane. But I was able to step away for my 45-minute lunch with Kendra.
Kendra and I don’t talk nearly as much as we once did, mainly because I decided to see what would happen if I stopped reaching out to her. And I discovered that if I don’t reach out to her first then we won’t talk at all. I kind of confronted her about it last year and she made up all these excuses about how busy she is as a mom, wife and career woman. And to me, it’s just like, if you can’t make time to text your oldest friend then you just don’t want to make time.
She waddled into the restaurant clutching her bump like it might fall off. She’s due next month and she’s thrilled because they’re having a boy. Apparently John has always wanted a son and they were trying for over a year.
“Once we have this baby boy, we’ll be done and our family will be perfect,” Kendra said.
Speaking of which. I really needed to vent about Brady and tell her about the apartment and stuff and she’d already taken up thirty minutes of our allotted time. I knew exactly what she was going to say: you need to communicate with Brady, you have to get a lawyer, what do you genuinely think is best for Winnie? So I blabbed about everything that’s been going on as of late (excluding all details about Brendan) while she rubbed her tummy and nodded along.
“So when do you plan on telling him about the apartment? You have movers coming on Saturday!” she exclaimed.
“Like as soon as I get home! It’s not like we’ve seen each other or talked that much,” I said.
“But you haven’t even discussed a plan for Winnie? He’s going to be blindsided,” Kendra continued.
“He’s not going to be blindsided. He knows that I’ve been trying to move out for months. Brady will be fine,” I explained.
“I don’t know. There’s a reason you’ve waited until the last minute to tell him. I just don’t see this ending well.”
I didn’t say anything.
And then Kendra added, “Wow. I always knew you and Brady didn’t have the greatest relationship, but I never thought this would happen.”
Really? I should have known Kendra was going to make me feel even worse about the situation. I wished I hadn’t brought it up.
Kendra ended up staying for a full hour and then she claimed she really had to go (she had so much work to do before going on maternity leave for half the year). As we walked out of the restaurant, she said, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m always here if you need to talk.”
“It sure doesn’t feel like it. You hardly ever text me back,” I said.
She had already whipped out her phone and was no longer even paying any attention to me. “Hang on a sec. John’s calling me.”
Exactly my point.
Anyway, I met back up with Mike and we had several more back to back meetings. After lunch with Kendra, the only thing I could think about was everything she said and I was suddenly super anxious about talking to Brady about the apartment. I spent the remainder of the meetings peeling my nail polish off, chewing my cuticles until they bled and worrying about everything that could go wrong.
Mike wanted to go to this Italian place for dinner which was perfect because I definitely needed a drink. I went back to the hotel and changed, grabbed my Burberry trench and we headed to the restaurant. We had to wait for our table so we got drinks at the bar. We ordered vespers (it was that kinda night) and I started firing off questions about his family. Basically, I just wanted something to focus on besides myself and as long as I’ve known Mike, he’s never really told me anything about his life. So now was the perfect time to find out how he met his wife, how old his kids were, what extracurricular activities they were in, etc. And talking so much about Mike’s family made me think of Brendan’s family and Brendan, who was still “taking space.” I needed another drink.
By the time our table was ready, I was slightly toasted and really needed to eat something (I was too busy talking at lunch to eat). As I was sliding into one side of the corner booth, Mike let the host know that we were waiting for one other person. Oh? What other person? I assumed it would be a woman, like a mistress or something, but then on cue, motherfucking Scott walked in.
Y’all remember Scott? My old boss? I don’t have the energy to explain it all, but basically we used to have a thing several years ago. He helped me get the job with Mike, but we don’t ever talk anymore. I had not seen Scott in so long and I was strangely sort of happy to see him.
“Oh hi! What are you doing here?” I greeted him. I stood up to hug him and noted that he still smells exactly the same, like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood. A ton of memories came flooding back: making out with him in his office on the daily and then his wife showing up with a big pregnant belly.
“Thought I’d catch up with some old friends!” Scott said and kissed my temple.
“Great!” I said, sitting back down.
They each sat on either side of me and we all talked about the shitty weather and New York and some of the meetings we had that day. The waitress stopped by and we ordered the entirety of the antipasti menu along with a bottle of red wine.
Scott waited until I had a full glass of wine in front of me before saying, “Reese. It’s so good to see you. What’s new?”
“Absolutely nothing,” I said.
“How’s Brady and the baby?” he asked.
“Brady?” I scoffed. These two were about to get an ear full. “I’m sure he’s fine. We broke up and I’m moving the fuck out of Connecticut this weekend.” Mike looked at me and I added, “Pardon my French.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that,” Scott said.
“Don’t be. It’s his fault.” I took a big swig of my wine. “And besides, while he was neglecting me for months on end, I fell in love with someone else.”
“Did you?” Scott seemed surprised.
“Yeah, but he’s not speaking to me at the moment. That’s a story for another day. What’s new with you?”
Scott told us about his cute red-headed daughter and how she would be starting school this year and how his wife started her own company. Scott always pretended to be single when we worked together, while his wife was at home pregnant, and now it seemed like he was actually claiming her. Good for them! So glad he’s growing up.
“So who’s this new guy? What’s he like?” Scott asked me.
“Ugh, I love him,” I blurted out. “He’s literally the best person I know. He’s so sweet.”
I was actually tearing up thinking about Brendan and him not talking to me.
“He must be pretty incredible if you’re talking like this,” he said.
“Oh my God, he is,” I said and then blabbed for the next seven minutes about how amazing and kind he is.
Scott turned to Mike and said, “Well, I’ve known Reese a long time and I’ve never seen her like this.”
I’d forgotten Mike was sitting there and as I gulped down my wine, I tried to think if I’d said anything that would give away that I was talking about Brendan. But did it even matter anyway? I kind of didn’t care if he knew. If Brendan and I are going to be together then Mike will have to know eventually.
The food came out and we ordered another bottle of wine and I let the two of them talk shop for a bit before bringing the attention back to me. I hadn’t even given them the full scoop on Brady yet!
After dinner, Scott asked me (just me) to go to a bar with him. And I would’ve, but I thought if Brendan knew our history, he probably wouldn’t like that. And even if he wasn’t speaking to me, it just felt weird and icky and like something I shouldn’t do.
The next day, I thought I felt better. I’d go home that night and let Brady know the deal and it would be fine. But I was still picking at the skin around my nails and I was bleeding everywhere and beginning to look like I was on meth. So clearly I was still anxious. I went through the motions all day while imagining every different scenario that could happen. Eventually I talked myself off the ledge — what was the worst that could happen? It was just Brady and he knew my intentions. What could he say?
By the time we got to the airport, I’d convinced myself it would all be fine. And so I pulled out my phone, opened Instagram, and sent a message to Kendall.
“I talked to Brendan about what you told me and now he’s not speaking to me.”
Kendall replied, “Yeah, he asked me about it. I thought that conversation was between us. I didn’t think you’d go and bring it up to him LOL.”
LOL? What was funny about any of this?!
“But I didn’t know he’d get mad at me about it!” I said back.
Kendall began typing and I waited, sipping my glass of wine.
“He’s not mad. Don’t stress. You know our guy is sensitive.”
Even though Brendan hadn’t spoken to me in like five days, I just knew we would talk again and go back to normal. The whole thing was confusing, but I was willing to be patient while Brendan figured it out. There was no way something this small and stupid would ruin us.
So I got back, said goodbye to ol’ Mike and Ubered home to Connecticut. It was approximately 7:00 and Brady was working in his little office with the door open. Perfect. I put my stuff down and then went to ambush him.
“Hey!” I said.
Brady turned and looked at me like I was disturbing him. That was fine. I’d make this brief. “Hi.”
“I got a super cute apartment in the city and I’m moving out. It’s all furnished and everything so I have movers coming on Saturday just to help move my clothes and Peloton,” I explained.
Brady looked completely unfazed, per usual. See? What was I stressing about? “Okay.”
“I was thinking Winnie can stay here Saturday night, but then I will pick her up Sunday. I want to show her around the new neighborhood; there’s a cute little park and a ton of dogs. And she’s going to love her new room,” I went on.
“Okay. I mean it all sounds great, but you know this is still going to be her primary residence right?” Brady said.
“Uh, no. Obviously she’ll have two primary residences now. I’m not sure how often you’d want to switch off, but I was thinking every other week plus weekend,” I said.
Brady swiveled in his stupid little chair so he was facing me fully. “No.”
“What do you mean, no?”
“This is her home. She’s going to live here. You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to let you take her to live in the city with you.”
I blinked a couple of times. Excuse me? What was with the hostility?
“Brady,” I said calmly. “I’m her mother.”
“And I’m her father. You know I bought this house specifically for her to grow up in and it’s the only home she knows. You can do whatever you want, but Winnie is staying here.”
“What are you saying? You sound insane. You can’t just hold her hostage in Connecticut.”
I thought Brady would be kind of annoying about all this, but I didn’t think he’d try to shut me down so quickly.
“And you can’t just uproot her for fun, Reese. She’s staying here. That’s it. This isn’t something you’re going to win,” Brady said and turned around like I was dismissed.
Oh fucking really? Like this was a game? I went to the side of the desk so he couldn’t escape. “I’m not understanding how you think this is fair. She’s my child.”
I must have hit some sort of nerve or something because that’s when Brady blew up. Mind you I was being super cool and calm up until this point, and he was the one being unreasonable all along.
“Are you kidding me? Do you think it’s fair to just randomly get an apartment in the city with no explanation for no reason and then expect everyone to be okay with it?” he shouted.
“It wasn’t random! You know I’ve been looking for months!”
“And you haven’t bothered to discuss it with me at all! I really don’t care what you do at this point, but Winnie is staying here,” Brady said.
“No, she’s not.”
“Yes, she is.”
“No, she’s not.”
“Yes, she is.”
“No, she’s not.”
If it wasn’t such an important topic, this would’ve been really stupid.
“Yes. She is,” Brady said, sternly.
“Okay, what’s she going to do while you’re working for fourteen to eighteen hours a day? She only goes to school one day a week so are you just gonna leave her with the babysitter the rest of the time?” I asked.
“Probably. She can’t stand being around you half the time so I’m sure she’ll be fine with the babysitter,” he said.
And he said it so calmly, like a psychopath. How cruel.
“Really? Fuck you,” I said. “I was going to be nice and try to work with you on this, but forget it. I’ll bring her over every other weekend, but only if she wants to.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to happen. You may as well accept that now. Like I said, this isn’t something you’re going to win,” Brady said.
“Oh my God, stop saying that! This is not a fucking game!” I screamed.
“Then stop acting like it’s one!” he shouted back. “Think about someone other than yourself for once!”
“What are you even talking about? You’ve treated me like shit for months and now you’re like, punishing me for wanting to get out of this house? Are you serious?”
“I’m not punishing you! I’m telling you that my daughter is staying in this house with me — end of story. You can try to fight me on it if you want, but I’m warning you, you’ll waste your time and probably go bankrupt!” Brady said.
I think in the back of my mind, I always knew Brady was capable of this. He’s a cold, emotionless robot so of course he was okay with being this vile and callous. I had a brief flashback of being pregnant and Brady rubbing my belly and I felt tears stinging my eyes. But y’all know me. I don’t back down.
“Oh, please. You’re not the only one who has money so you need to get over that,” I said, pretending to be calm.
“Yep. We’ll see about that,” he said.
I wanted to murder him. I was close enough that I could lunge forward and gouge his eyeballs out. Or wring his neck until I cut off his air supply. Or maybe I could open the window and push him out and hope he broke every bone in his body on the concrete (I’ve been listening to too much true crime, clearly).
Finally, I said, “You’re a piece of shit.”
As I was walking out, l heard him say, “You are too.”
As soon as I hit the hallway, I was in absolute tears and by the time I’d made it to a corner of the walk-in closet I was borderline hyperventilating. I pulled out my phone and called my mom.
“Hi honey!” she answered.
I wailed into the phone. Of course, she started freaking out and assumed someone died or something. So I needed to calm down. I managed to get out the main points of what happened, but had to repeat myself a few times because I was sobbing.
Finally my mom gasped, “He said what? Do I need to get on a plane and come up there?”
“No, you don’t have to do that,” I sniffled. “I just can’t believe he’s acting like this.”
“You tell him that I said if he threatens you again, I’m going to stick my foot in his ass,” she said (I wasn’t going to tell him this). “Your dad is going to flip when he hears about this.”
She said we needed to find a lawyer ASAP because clearly this was about to get ugly (depressing). We hung up and I showered then got in bed. I could hear Brady moving throughout the house, going up and down the stairs and in my mind I imagined he was taking Winnie and fleeing. So I got up and made sure she was safe in her bed. She was sleeping soundly (to her sleeping playlist to drown out the screaming, perfect) and I went back to bed. My mom called me back because my dad was home and he wanted to know what happened. She already told him, of course, but he wanted to hear it from me.
“That little weasel doesn’t know who he’s messing with!” my dad boomed. My dad never yells. “I’ll be there tomorrow and I dare him to say that to me!”
“Daddy, you don’t have to come here,” I said. But the thought of my dad coming to support me made me feel a zillion times better. Daddio could fix anything.
He told me to write down everything that had happened from the beginning and we hung up again. And so I wrote everything down in my Notes app starting when Brady got home from his trip to Florida last year (that’s when this all began, remember?). I worked on it for a few hours (the blog helped) and I was flip flopping between being angry and sad about everything that was happening. The fact that I loved Brady so much for so long and was so desperate to marry him and have a life with him. And this was how it was ending…it was sort of surreal.
I woke up on Friday morning after sleeping for a cumulative 45 minutes with a face swollen from crying. It was 5:30 and my mom called; she couldn’t sleep either because she was so worried. So that made me feel bad. She said she wished I would’ve told her what was going on sooner — which I did, but I didn’t feel like arguing. There was no point anyway.
As much as I wanted to stay in bed and hide, I actually had an important meeting in the office that I couldn’t miss. While I was in the shower, I tried to think of a realistic, valid excuse to be able to miss it, but I knew Mike would have my ass if I wasn’t there. I couldn’t have everyone mad at me.
Brady was walking out of the kitchen with his laptop bag when I walked in. He gave me a death glare, but didn’t say anything and neither did I. And then after I heard him leave and lock the door, I started crying again.
I strolled into the meeting late, still sniffing and my chin trembling uncontrollably. Between that and my torn up cuticles, I truly looked like I needed rehab of some sort.
Mike, who was sitting at the head of the table, said, “Reese. Thanks for joining us.”
Fuck you, Mike. Everyone turned to look at me, including Brendan who was sitting right next to Paige. Brendan. I was suddenly irrationally mad at him for “taking space” when I needed him. He continued watching me after the meeting started and I could feel he was trying to make eye contact with me.
The meeting went on for just over an hour and I sat there saying nothing and trying not to cry. I usually have so much to say and apparently Mike noticed too because at the end he sighed and said, “Reese, nothing to add?”
I shook my head. “No, nothing from me.”
Brendan looked at me again.
I jumped up to leave before anyone could stop me or ask me any questions (bitches love to ask me for things) and beelined for my office. I felt like I was going to burst into tears again at any second. Plus I wanted to see if my mom had called with any updates. Just as I got to my office door, Brendan appeared and tried to grab my hand. I snatched it away — first of all, we were at work so what the fuck was he doing?
“Not now,” I managed. Our issue about me bringing up his ex-wife seemed so insignificant now. I can’t believe he got mad at me (or “not mad” whatever the hell he was) for that and I was so over it.
Brendan opened his mouth to say something, but Mike called his name from down the hall. And then he just turned and walked away from me to go talk to Mike. It was slightly devastating watching him walk away because for some reason at that moment, I felt like this might be the end for Brendan and me. But I had other things to worry about so who gave a fuck?
My mom and dad had called me a few times so I grabbed my stuff and peaced out so I could call them back in privacy. Plus I wanted to get home and make sure Winnie was okay. I waited until I was in my car and on my way to Connecticut to call my mom. She let me know that she’d already spoken to a few lawyers, but no one could meet me today. One of them said there was an emergency motion we could file in court and is that the route we wanted to take? I mean, yes, but it sounded so horrible. I told her I’d call her back.
I spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon with Winnie, continuing to hype up our new place and watching Cocomelon on the iPad. Brendan called. Oh, he’d had enough space? I watched my phone ring and debated if I was ready to talk to him, but I was going through a crisis so no, I was not ready to talk to him. I sent him to voicemail.
Since it was Friday night, I told Winnie we could order takeout and she picked pizza (baby girl loves a carb). So I ordered us a four-cheese pizza and stuffed shells. What the fuck was Brady talking about, she can’t stand being around me? We were having a great time.
Winnie was sleeping, sprawled on top of me on the couch, when I heard the front door unlock and open. It was clearly past her bedtime, but I guess I wanted to prove to Brady that she does like being around me. But when I peeked over the back of the couch, I saw my dad and Brady walking through the door. I guess he was serious.
I got up with the baby still attached to me and whispered, “What are you doing here?”
“Aww,” my dad cooed, stroking Winnie’s hair. “Put her to bed. We’re all going to talk now.”
Oh, okay, straight to the point then. I took Winnie upstairs (she was stirring and squeezing her eyes shut), put her in her bed and turned on the music. And then I found my dad and Brady in the kitchen. My dad was sitting at the island and it looked like Brady was making coffee.
“Hi daddy!” I said, hugging him. “I said you didn’t need to come.”
He hugged me and I sat down next to him. Then he said, “So what is going on?”
Brady and I glanced at each other — he had much less hatred in his eyes now — and then back at my dad. I’d already told him my side of the story so I didn’t say anything.
“I don’t know. Can’t agree, I guess,” Brady said.
“It’s not like you even tried to agree,” I said. “It was your way or nothing, so…”
My cute, calm dad yelled at us for waiting until the last minute to talk about things especially Brady since he “made sure” Brady knew about my intentions. He yelled at us. Can you imagine? I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve been in trouble with my parents (which is probably why I turned out the way I did) so this was weird. He was like, “You two are worried about yourselves and not that sweet little girl upstairs!” It was so embarrassing.
After making us feel like complete assholes, my dad made us sit there and come up with a custody plan. They downed coffee and Brady and I talked through our schedules and what would work for Winnie. It went surprisingly really well — having my dad as a mediator helped. You’d think he had experience doing this sort of thing. Every time either of us started getting heated, he stepped in and humbled us. And it worked!
Eventually, we had a plan fully fleshed out. Winnie would spend Tuesday mornings through Saturday mornings with yours truly and then I’d drop her off in Connecticut with Brady for the weekend. He’d bring her back to me on Tuesday morning and we’d start again. And y’all know Brady loves to work on a weekend, so my dad made him estimate how often this would happen (twice a month max, he said). And so for those weekends, Brady would get her on Sunday and she’d stay through Wednesday instead. For now, we wouldn’t modify the schedule for holidays, but we’d revisit the conversation in a few months. Perfect.
After that, we all sat and chatted and drank coffee (tea) until I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so exhausted. I went up to bed while they stayed up and talked. I was so relieved that we were able to come to an agreement that I actually didn’t even want to kill Brady anymore. He could stay in Connecticut and the fuck away from me.
I woke up early the next morning. It was moving day! Plus Winnie was running through the house screaming and playing with her papa (🥺).
“Oh, you’re finally up!” my dad said when I found them in the hallway.
“It’s only six thirty,” I said.
The movers were coming at eight so I showered and got dressed then I headed downstairs. I could hear Winnie in her room talking my dad’s ear off (gets it from her mama). Brady was on his laptop at the kitchen island and I kind of wasn’t sure what to say. Yeah, we’d been cordial last night, but it’s not like we were suddenly friends.
“Hey,” I said coolly.
“Hey,” he said back.
That was all I planned on saying to him at that point, but then he added, “I’m really sorry about the other night. The things I said.”
Okay, what was with the sudden 180? First, it was “Winnie hates you, she can’t live with you and I’m going to bankrupt you,” and now he was willing to split time and was sorry about everything? What the hell had my dad said to him?
“It’s fine,” I said. I couldn’t even think of anything snarky or funny to say back.
“If you need any help moving—”
“The movers will be here in 15 minutes,” I cut him off.
And 15 minutes later, the movers were there — three of them — and they were slightly confused because the only things they had to load were an exercise bike, a closet full of clothes, shoes, and bags, and a couple of furniture pieces. They had it all in the truck in about twenty minutes. Obviously I needed to go meet them on the other end to receive my stuff and my dad suggested we make a thing out of it. I planned on showing Winnie the new apartment and my dad wanted to see it too and at that point Brady may as well tag along to bring Winnie back to Connecticut. Annoying.
So we took our two separate cars into the city and I gave them the grand tour. I didn’t really care what anyone thought except Winnie and she has great taste like her mother so she was a big fan. She absolutely loves her new room: the canopy daybed, the egg chair, the wicker basket full of toys, etc. Brady walked around with his hands in his pockets, saying nothing.
We all hung out for a bit (my dad continuously questioned my decision to buy a white couch) and then grabbed lunch before Brady and Winnie went back to Connecticut. I spent the next few hours with Daddio before he headed home. We FaceTimed my mom and showed her the place and he was telling her all about the arrangements we made. And then right before we left for LGA, my dad mentioned something about Brady giving me $2K a month to help with expenses. ‘Scuse me? I don’t need any of his fucking money.
“I knew you weren’t going to like that, but it is what it is. Put it in a separate account for Winnie if you need to,” my dad said.
It’s all just so bizarre. Whatever.