Originally published at FiveChapters.com
Adam Leavitt fell in love with me two weeks before our college graduation, and I never knew what brought it on. One minute we were part of the same group of friends, loosely bound by the parameters of dining hall tables and Saturday night parties, and the next thing I knew he was staring at me with the intensity of a lion stalking its prey. He was a musician, and intensity was his thing. He had curly blond hair that fell in ringlets over his eyes, and he wore the same outfit every day: jeans, motorcycle boots, and the piercing, blue-eyed gaze of a man with important things on his mind — heartbreak, death. He staged solo performances in boiler rooms. He had a tattoo of a Chinese symbol on his arm (this was back before every sorority girl had a dainty flower etched on her lower back) and another one on his neck, some kind of mythological animal, its claws reaching up towards his ear.
One night I went over to his room to borrow a book and he’d lit candles, at least twenty candles in this tiny room that could barely contain a futon. It was a fire hazard if I’d ever seen one. He handed me the book and his blue eyes glowed radioactively. I thought, why me? I felt like there might be a hidden camera, somebody behind a curtain waiting for me to fall for this prank.
“Janet,” he said intensely. I worried there was going to be a romantic speech. Let me give you some context. This was the early nineties, at Harvard, in a dorm where we all wore black turtlenecks and thought we understood Derrida, or thought that a display of understanding Derrida was important. I had friends who stayed up all night discussing whether all penetration was rape. There was a couple whose abusive S&M relationship was considered by some to be a radical subversion of the heteronormative paradigm. We were serious about these things. There was no place for romantic speeches in our world.
I grabbed the book and said, “Sorry, I have to go.”
Adam never said anything about it again. After we graduated, I moved to New York, and he sent me a postcard. It was a black and white photograph of himself, unsmiling, glued to a piece of cardboard. On the back it said, Thinking of you, wishing you well. What it meant, I understood, was I’m over it, goodbye.
Eventually I left New York, went to graduate school in the Midwest, and moved back to New York, this time as an organizational psychologist. While in grad school I’d met and married my husband. All the French theory in my head had evaporated when I graduated from college; I’d come from middle-class suburbia before Harvard and after Harvard I returned to its values, college philosophy sliding off me like the extra pounds from dining hall food and Everclear punch. My husband had attended a state school where they hadn’t waded knee-deep in identity politics and irony. He professed his love to me over email, after a chatty message about some repairs he was having done to his car. He was forthright and direct. PS, he wrote, I love you.
In person, this became his thing. At the end of a phone call: “Well, I’ve gotta go,” he’d say. “PS. I love you.”
Sometimes he’d even hang up, then call back to say it.
After the wedding, he joined an Internet startup that was targeted immediately by enthusiastic investors. All of a sudden we were floating in money. We had salaries and stock options and a brand new car. My husband began to speak in acronyms. I’d thought PS was cute but it turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. He had code for everything. BRB, he’d say when he was going to be right back. IMO, when offering his opinion on current events.
One night, at a dinner party, I heard him say, “LOL!” He wasn’t laughing; he wasn’t even talking about laughing using real words. He was using the code for laughing instead of just chuckling, as if throwing back his head and laughing would be too much trouble, would take too much time. What would Derrida say about that? I thought. It made me hate him — my husband, not Derrida.
You might think it’s a small thing, the use of Internet-derived acronyms in ordinary conversation, and of course you’d be right. But it became an emblem of everything about my husband, his new and prosperous and grown-up self, that I didn’t recognize. And it swelled up in my sight, inflated like a balloon, until it obscured everything about him that had once drawn us together. My irritation was gigantic; it filled the horizon. It made me miserable. I was miserable every single moment of every single day, and soon enough, so was he. What kind of love is this, I thought, that can be eclipsed not by infidelity or loss but by irritation? What kind of person am I? We got divorced.
My husband cashed out his stocks before the Internet bubble burst, we sold our brand new car, and he moved to California. I stayed in New York, the city’s hard times seeming entwined with my own. After a while people asked me when I was going to start dating again, but truthfully I couldn’t get interested. It seemed to me that I wasn’t relationship material, that all those dreams I’d had way back before getting married — of a house with a yard, a life with children, a couple growing old together — these were things for other people, not meant for me, in the same way that I just can’t wear orange. Sometimes my husband and I talked on the phone, and we were friendly, solicitous, but our failure hung in the air between us, even across thousands of miles. I still thought of him as my husband, not because I still wanted to be married to him but because he was the person I’d chosen to marry, and the collapse of that choice didn’t change the facts. Our failure made me more of an adult than getting married had. I was thirty-six and I felt middle-aged. I felt like the best I could hope for was to maintain. I spent my disposable income on facials and manicures, grooming my carapace, which was how I thought of my body, something to be buffed and polished but never used, like a car in a showroom, gleaming inside glass walls.
A year passed. I had a new job, working as an organizational consultant. I went from company to company with a laptop and a pad of yellow lined paper that I used for taking notes. My job was to improve company function by assessing its existing climate. I handed out questionnaires and conducted interviews and in the process, inevitably, I’d find out who was competent, who overworked, who was lazy, resented, loved. I was part efficiency expert, part psychiatrist. My job was to diagnose the health of the company, and recommend treatment for its future well-being. Sometimes, people got fired.
I was introduced to the staff of ICS, a corporate marketing firm, by Melissa, a skinny, small woman in her thirties with long curly hair that made her look even skinnier and smaller. An animal lover, she had all her employees bring in pictures of their pets and post them in the lounge; this created community, she told me. At the weekly staff meeting, she said, “This is Janet. She’ll be with us for a month or so, conducting interviews. Janet, you’re welcome to put up a picture of your pet in the lounge.”
“I don’t have any pets,” I said.
Everyone in the room shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Afterwards, I was shown to my temporary office, where I prepared to start interviews. I was looking over the departmental flow charts when a voice said, “Janet.” I looked up. Adam Leavitt was standing in the doorway, his hands in the pockets of his black pants. His hair was shorter, darker, with a few gray strands in it. He was wearing a white button-down shirt and above the collar I could see the claws of his tattoo.
“You work here?” I said. I was too surprised to sound friendly, though I was happy to see him. “I didn’t see you at the meeting.”
“I was in the back.” Stepping forward, smiling, he placed his index finger in one of the flow chart boxes on my desk. “It’s just a day job,” he said. “I still play out at night. You look good.”
“Thank you,” I said calmly, not without pride, as one would when complimented on one’s car.
“Let’s have lunch.”
“I just got here.”
“I didn’t mean now. I meant at lunch time.”
“Right,” I said. On my note pad I wrote down lunch. “You can show me where to go.”
“I’ll give you all the inside dope,” he said. Before he left, he shot me a look that reminded me of college — somehow, a shade more intense than a lunch date ought to provoke.
Three hours later we walked to a deli, bought sandwiches, and ate them sitting across the street, in the kind of shoeboxy Midtown park where corporate workers sat on or next to corporate sculpture. Depressingly, we caught up on fifteen years within ten minutes. Our lives went like this: starter job, disillusionment, graduate school, new job, one major relationship, stasis. I asked him about his music, and he shrugged and muttered something about a record deal that fell through. He’d worked for ICS for five years and the line between it being his day job and it being his actual job had blurred to invisibility. He didn’t say he was miserable about it, but I could tell. At the end of lunch he gave me a postcard advertising a show by his band, Das Boot, at a bar in Williamsburg on the weekend.
“Das Boot?” I said.
“We pretend to be German,” he said. “But we aren’t.”
“I didn’t know you spoke German.”
“I don’t. Well, sometimes I use German words, and sometimes it’s more of a German mood,” he said.
“I’m not sure I understand. What kind of words and moods?”
“Angry and guttural. Sad and guttural. Zeitgeist. Weltanschauung. Heineken.”
“Isn’t Heineken Dutch?”
“Dutch, Deutsch,” he shrugged, and I sensed he’d had this conversation before. “Anyway. It’s a hybrid Sprockets-revival faux-language poetry kind of a thing.”
I couldn’t tell if he was serious. I smiled noncommittally and said it sounded interesting, and he laughed.
“Well, if not interesting, the drinks are cheap,” he said. “Maybe you don’t care about cheap drinks at this point in your life, but will you come anyway?”
“I don’t know,” I said, catching in his eye a brief flash of disappointment that didn’t seem ironic. “I’ll try.”
I showed up alone. The bar was dirty, small, pulsing with recorded techno, and close to empty. I saw some people I vaguely knew — acquaintances from college, some in designer clothes, some in studied vintage and uncut hair. I made chit-chat, wishing I hadn’t come. Then I felt something hit me lightly on the back of my head, and I reached back to brush away what I thought was an insect. I felt it again and brushed again. I looked down at the ground and noticed that I was surrounded by kernels of popcorn. Someone was pelting me. I turned around and saw Adam coming at me from across the room. He literally did come right at me, his chin tucked into his neck. You know how cats walk across the room to you and stuff their faces in your hand? They do it to mark you, to release some scent that shows you’ve been claimed. That’s what this was like. He took hold of my arm and said, “You came.”
“You invited me,” I said. He held out the palm of his hand, with three wizened pieces of popcorn still left in it. I declined them, and he turned his palm over and let them fall to the ground. He was wearing one of the strangest outfits I’d ever seen, a striped sailor shirt with buttons on top of the shoulders, like epaulets, and green pants with buttons all down the sides. These didn’t look like clothes bought recently, nor did they look used. I spend a fair amount of time in stores but I had no idea where a person would go to procure such clothes. He looked half a caricature, half a heart throb. Which is to say that, looking at him, I smiled and my heart throbbed — it buzzed in its cavity like a fly in a jar. Whatever advantage I had on him during the day, as a professional consultant, evaporated.
“I know,” he said in my ear, spittle hitting my left lobe and neck. “But I didn’t think — well, anyway, it’s good to see you.”
A woman with long dyed black hair came over and told him they were getting started and Adam made me promise I’d stay until the end.
“Okay,” I said.
When Das Boot came on, they were so loud I thought my head would explode. I quickly tore some bar napkins into small pieces and stuffed them in my ears, feeling a million years old. Through the paper wads I could hear Adam murmur a string of words into the microphone. It sounded like he was whispering the word “polka” over and over again. The woman with the long black hair hugged an accordion wildly. Behind the band, a black and white film I couldn’t recognize was playing.
They played a few songs — at least I think they did. It was hard for me to tell when one stopped and the other began, and Adam never cracked a smile the entire time, but I was pretty sure the entire thing was a big joke. I wondered if the fact that he treated the music as a joke was a response to his lack of success as a musician, or the cause of it. Or both. There were too many layers. I felt confused and out of my depth, a feeling that made me pleasantly nostalgic for college. Then he sang a song about wienerschnitzel and Werner von Herzog, and I laughed, and the place was small enough that he saw me laughing from the stage, and I saw him see me, and I was happy.
Then they were finished, and the recorded techno music started up, and he bounded down from the stage and came straight at me again. “What do you think?” he shouted in my ear.
I took out my napkin wads. “I don’t know what to think,” I said. “Is that what you’re going for?”
“Absolutely,” he said. He seemed very pleased with my comment and in fact I thought I saw him blush. I was standing close to him and I could make out the age spots, the wrinkles, every new mark on his face since the last time I’d seen him. All of which looked better on him, I knew, than it did on me. “Let me get you a drink,” he said.
He was known by the crowd there and they kept coming up and greeting him. I liked seeing him this way, in his element. There were in-jokes I didn’t get and discussions of people I didn’t know, and I listened to all of it with a dopey smile on my face. After a while I realized that Adam was holding my hand. He just put his hand into mine without looking at me or saying anything about it, still smiling and nodding and talking to someone else. Our palms were hot, greasy, kind of gross. My heart buzzed again. I felt like I was fourteen. Is there an exact opposite to growing up? Can a person grow down?
An hour later we left the bar together. We started walking purposefully down the street as if we’d agreed on some destination, then stopped at a grim little park — grim little parks apparently being our venue of choice — and sat down on a bench. Adam put his arm around me.
“It’s strange to see you again,” he said, “after you broke my heart.”
“What?” I said. “Seriously?”
“Ever since you, I’ve been wary of women. I let them chase me, and usually I leave them before I get left.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “You never even really asked me out. It was just some unspoken thing.”
“I adored you. I’ve never felt that way about anyone else, before or since.”
It wasn’t the kind of thing you hear every day. I took a moment to drink it in. “I didn’t know,” I finally said. We were meeting each other’s eyes and then glancing away, light bouncing off corners, all goosebumps and indirection.
“Of course you knew. You just acted like you didn’t.”
Was it true? I wasn’t sure. It was a long time ago. I didn’t know what to say next. College was all about banter and flirting but I was now used to speaking directly; my husband and I had been to couples therapy and learned to use “I” statements to communicate our feelings. I felt like I was attempting some sport I hadn’t played since childhood. Like I was trying to figure skate, testing my wobbly ankles on the ice.
We went to his apartment, not far away. He poured me a glass of wine and as he was handing it to me, he kissed me on the lips. “I want to be with you,” he said.
I kissed him back, then stopped. I didn’t want him to see me naked: I had veins mapping my breasts, clusters of them like bruises on my thighs. My skin was creped in places, bumpy in others. I put my hands under his shirt and felt his muscled chest and then, lower down, the sweetly reassuring padding of his spare tire.
We moved to the bed. In his tiny bedroom, no larger than the dorm room of years past, we pressed ourselves close together and wrestled ourselves into submission. Afterwards I exhaled deeply, partly with satisfaction and partly with relief that it had gone so well. Then, we slept.
I could say that the poor ethics of the situation — I was making recommendations about his job, his friends’ jobs — made the relationship exciting. I could say that it was like recovering some part of my lost youth. I could say that it was about sex, or abandon or fun. And all these things could be true yet still not capture the whole truth of the thing, its slippery, sexy reality. Adam and I went driving around Brooklyn in his twenty-year old BMW, smoking cigarettes and listening to eighties music from our teenage years on cassette tapes he’d gotten free off people’s stoops. We had dinner out, in small cheap restaurants; I never cooked for him or had him over to my place. There wasn’t much of the domestic between us. There wasn’t much sense of a future. With my husband, almost immediately after getting together we’d started playing house, cooking dinner, washing up, watching movies at home, curled on the couch. We had a chore wheel on the fridge. Everything was a rehearsal for the real performance of adult life. Adam and I didn’t rehearse. We never talked about where things were going or not going. We went out to dinner, the movies, to parties, and afterwards we talked about dinner, the movies, the parties, and after that I slid my fingers through his short blond hair and took him to bed, or was taken.
It would be equally wrong to say that, because it wasn’t grown up, because it wasn’t an audition for some permanent household situation, that it wasn’t also soulful and moving and important. Because it was. At night I sometimes ran my hands over his tattoos and marveled at the existence of him. I learned what he liked in bed and when I did those things he produced this one special sound that gave me a shiver all through my chest. I was pretty close to being in love.
At work, I soon realized that Adam’s days were numbered. From all reports, he did nothing, had no function, apparently hoping no one would notice. The company was riddled with such redundancies, and the resentment it bred between those who had actual work to do and those who didn’t was enormous. Whenever I asked how this inequality had happened, I heard long stories about how various departments had once been joined but since separated, or had been separated and now were collapsed, or a guy who’d left the company ten years earlier had campaigned for a given structure, which now held the mold he’d left behind, its actual contents empty. History dictated every current shape of the company, like an adult whose childhood informed his personality. It was my job to retrain this psychology and reform the molds. And no matter what I said about the company climate and its potential for change and growth, the fact that Adam had done so little for so long wasn’t going to look good.
I was temporarily torn by my allegiance to Adam and my professional discretion; he won. At dinner one night, I brought it up. He never asked me about my job or how things were going, and after that first lunch we hardly ever spoke at the office. I was busy conducting interviews, and he, from what I heard, was busy surfing the internet, making coffee, and using the company’s Kinko’s account to produce posters and ads for his band.
“Have you thought at all about what might happen at the company?” I asked him, putting it as vaguely as I could.
“Not really. I’m not all that attached to the job,” he said. I knew he was lying. It protected him from having to worry too much about not being more successful; it was his cover story, his excuse, his disguise.
At ICS I spent the final week collating my findings, typed up my notes, and put them in a report with charts and graphs. In it I recommended certain dramatic changes for the company, assessing their future efficiencies with a clear eye. I knew that I was right; whether they would implement the proposed changes was another issue, but I was good at my job, a fact that brought me no particular satisfaction but no particular anxiety, either. I’d already lined up my next client, a clothing manufacturer in New Jersey, which was going to require commuting on a PATH train every day for a month.
There was no doubt in my mind that Adam was going to get fired. I told myself this was the best thing that could happen to an aspiring thirty-seven year old musician: he’d get six months of welfare and maybe during that time he’d devote himself fully to his music, get where he needed to be, or decide that he’d had enough of the struggle and reconcile himself to a regular job, one he liked and might work hard at. I told myself I was doing him a favor, but I didn’t believe myself, of course, and didn’t expect that he would, either. The night before I was to present my report, I finally had him over to my place for dinner. I put on an apron and cooked, and he sat on my couch and laughed at me, wearing his crazy, clownish musician’s clothes, a blue guayabera and purple cargo pants.
“You’re like Betty Crocker or something,” he said, laughing.
I felt tears well up. “Adam,” I said, “I adore you.”
“Baby,” he said, drawing me down on the couch.
“I mean it,” I said.
“I wanted you my whole life,” he said, his hands up and down my back. “Come here.”
There were things I needed to say and hear, and I’d learned in marriage counseling that you shouldn’t preempt communication with sex, but at a certain point you have to say, well, fuck that, and this was such a point. With him inside me I felt centered, anchored, pinned. At the height of things I said, “I love you, I love you,” and he might have heard me, or he might have been too wrapped up in the sex to listen.
He didn’t spend the night. At the office the next day, we didn’t see each other. It was my last day. There were no big goodbyes. I emptied the office of my files and laptop and self, and presented my report to Melissa in her office, which was filled with more animal pictures, mostly cats she adopted or foster-cared for. Many of them were injured, and in the pictures they ignored the camera, wrapped up in the indignities of their head cones, stitches, and casts. She slapped the duotang cover of the report and said she’d have fun reading it over the weekend. I felt like I had to prepare her, this compassionate, care-taking woman, for the unpleasant realities inside.
“There might be some difficult decisions to make.”
She cocked her head at me, and I could see that she knew what I was implying, and that I’d offended her.
“I’m sure that with your help we’ll be able to make some wonderful improvements to our organization,” she said smoothly. “Thank you for all your hard work.”
From beneath her desk, I heard a sickly meow, the kind old cats make when they’re this close to letting go. Melissa paled.
“Don’t tell anyone, okay?” she said. “We’re not supposed to have animals here, but I really couldn’t leave Snickers alone.”
I stood up. “Call me if you have any questions.”
She shook my hand as the cat bellowed again. “Will do,” she said.
I’d grown used to spending some part of every weekend with Adam, but Friday and Saturday passed and he didn’t call. Saturday late afternoon I called his cell, but he didn’t answer. It seemed a little early for him to know he was getting fired, but sometimes office grapevines work at the speed of light. Still, it was fast.
By Sunday night I was going out of my mind, unable to sit still, my skin itching. I caught myself thinking crazy things. Things like: The only thing that bothers me is that he didn’t even say goodbye. Or like: I just want to kiss him one more time. My heart was rattling with upset, jumping around as if bent on escape. But there was nowhere for it to escape to.
On Monday, I was off to New Jersey. I wore my suit and set up my office, greeting the bosses, taking meetings. This place had no old college acquaintances to add intrigue to the assignment, which was fine by me. The day passed quickly, and so did the week, but all the while I was living on some other plane; the real me was somewhere else.
Apparently, things had ended between Adam and me. I’d gotten the message but the crazy part of me, the heart-skipping, cage-rattling part, wanted at least a final conversation, at the very least a final glimpse. And so I found myself, one morning, not getting on the PATH train and heading to Midtown instead. I sat in the park where we’d first had lunch and looked at the office building, wondering if I could come up with an excuse for returning. I’d left something there? A pen? But I’d trained myself in efficiency and competence, not in leaving things behind.
At lunch time, Adam exited the building, with Melissa. They went to the deli and came out to the park and unwrapped their sandwiches, balancing them awkwardly on their suited laps, and they didn’t sit particularly close to one another or touch each other or anything but I knew, just from seeing them, from the invisible magnet binding their two bodies, that they were sleeping together. I guessed he’d keep his job.
I’m no spy, and I don’t do surveillance. I walked up to them.
“Oh, hi,” she said.
“Adam, could I talk to you for a second?”
“Of course.” He stood up and we walked a few feet away, into the shadow cast by some monstrous, ambiguously shaped steel sculpture. We met each other’s eyes — we were adults, we could do this — and his were so blue. Do you understand what I’m telling you? They were so, so blue.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry.”
He looked perplexed. He didn’t seem mad, or even all that uncomfortable. “For what?”
I’d prepared a little speech in my hours of waiting for him to appear. “Although I couldn’t have altered the facts of my report, I could have recused myself, or not gone out with you, or I could have given you some advance notice of my findings, and I’m sorry that I didn’t do any of those things. It was inappropriate and I apologize.”
He looked down and laughed, and when his blue eyes met mine again, he winked. In all the time we’d spent together, he’d never winked, and the distance it put between us cut my skin like a cold wind. “Sometimes, we were very inappropriate,” he said.
“Listen, I understand you feel bad, and that’s sweet, but you don’t have to worry.” He gestured vaguely behind him. “I’m not getting fired but Melissa’s taking the spirit of your suggestions to heart and ICS will be the better for it.”
“I never realized,” I said, “that you were so concerned with the good of the company.”
He stepped closer to me and his voice softened. “I think you were the one getting concerned. A little too invested. I just figured it was best not to get even more, you know, when it wasn’t going to be what you wanted.”
It came over me, understanding, it washed. “This isn’t to do with me saying your job should be eliminated? This is because I said I love you?”
“I told you when we first saw each other again — that I don’t do that anymore. I leave first, always. You can’t say I wasn’t honest.”
“So this was, like, a revenge thing?”
“No, Jan,” he said softly, and I’ll swear there was real caring in his voice. “It’s just who I am now.”
It wasn’t the kind of thing you could argue with. I nodded, and left. I’d like to say I didn’t cry on the subway, but it wouldn’t be true. Back in my apartment, I curled up on my couch, under a blanket. I asked myself what I was thinking, I scolded myself for getting involved with him, for acting like a crush-struck teenager, I told myself that I’d survived a divorce and surely I’d survive this, I commanded myself to grow up, and when I was done saying all this to myself I thought: oh, great, another failure.
The difference between being a teenager and being an adult is, I guess, that the next day, I got back into the PATH train routine, and on with life. The days were okay but at night I could feel my heart pacing, a restless and unhappy animal. Or maybe what I mean is lonely. It was the first time I’d felt lonely in years. Usually I was comfortable spending time alone but I’d grown used to Adam, made a space for him in my days and my body, and now that he was gone, I felt hollow.
This is the teenaged thing I did: I went to a bar in Hoboken where Das Boot was playing. This time the place was crowded and a fake French band was playing fake French music. Next up was a fake Japanese band, then Adam’s. Fake bands were all the rage. I couldn’t find any napkins at the bar and my ears rang. I didn’t see Adam anywhere, and I should have gone home, but I didn’t. I stayed and drank Red Stripe with a crowd of people ten and who knows twenty years younger than myself. At one point, gesturing to the bartender, I knocked over the beer of a girl next to me, who was very pretty and had silver piercings dotted all along her eyebrows. As I apologized, she put her hand on my shoulder and said kindly, “I think it’s great you still get out.”
By the time Das Boot came on, the crowd had shifted. Here’s what I noticed: it was almost all women. Adam was a heartthrob. He came onstage wearing no shirt — no shirt at all! — and his hair was tied up in a whole bunch of tiny pigtails all over his head. A kind of collective sigh blew through the crowd. A line from an old, not-fake band went through my head: Baby you’re adorable. Handle me with care.
He smiled at the crowd and started to sing, or fake-sing, or whatever it was that he did, and all those girls loved it, loved him. He didn’t know I was there. My heart gave a sickly meow, and I went home.
It was past one by the time I got back to my apartment. I felt alone, as alone as I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I called my husband, just to hear a familiar voice.
“I’m dating someone,” he said. “FYI.”
“That’s great,” I told him, and I meant it, sincerely. “I want you to be happy.”
“What about you?”
“I was, but it didn’t work out.”
“It’s okay. Or at least, it will be okay.”
We talked for a few more minutes, exchanging news, and then we hung up.
What happened afterwards? If I were to assess my life like a corporate organization, examining its climate and function, I would summarize my findings as follows. I never saw Adam again. In the days to come, I cried and cried and cried. I cried like the heartsick teenager who still lived inside me. I cried so much that I grew comfortable with crying, and with the pain that gave rise to it. I knew that night, and without a doubt, that I loved Adam. And I still, in certain moods and lights, loved my husband, a love that was like a ghost of itself. There was no future for either of these loves, but it wasn’t the same thing, I thought, as failure. Because of this: I no longer felt like a showroom car, static and shining with lack of use. Because of this: I was a person whose heart could still move.