Seeing Other People

We had been alternately angry or sad at each other for weeks before we decided to meet in person and talk again: to hand over discarded possessions and mail, to iron out some personal matters. I was almost twenty minutes late, as I am late for everything now — unaccustomed to the new time frames of where I’m departing versus where I’m arriving. In times like these I tend to reset and default to my Minneapolis sensibilities: everything is fifteen minutes away. Isn’t it? Aren’t you just fifteen minutes away?

“I thought maybe you weren’t coming,” he said. “I even kind of hoped you weren’t.”

If only there had been a neutral place to go: but the fact is that if you want privacy, if you want to talk or react in a place where those words and reactions can be yours alone, it’s likely that someone owns the space, and space that is owned is rarely neutral. So here we were, meeting at our old apartment, where everything was familiar but lacking certain things; the bad-dream version of a place that is impossible to describe upon awakening. He told me that he knew I was kissing someone new.

“Isn’t it strange and amazing,” I had thought just a few days before, wandering to my new home in a sweet autumn dream, “that this can be secret?”

Breakup life lesson #1: Assume that nothing is or can remain a secret.

We sat and talked for two hours, and everything hurt. I understood him, he understood me, and we were left staring helplessly into the wreckage. “Do you want your rug?” he asked. “I have a Zipcar rented this afternoon, I can drive it over, if you don’t mind me knowing where you live now.”

“I don’t mind.”

We walked together to pick up the car, and passed an apartment we’d almost moved into together, just over two years ago; we’d decided it was too much space for us at the time, and too expensive. But it was a beautiful apartment: wild and big-lawned, with brightly painted walls, and situated at the bottom of the hill instead of the top. I put my hand on his shoulder as we walked by, and he grasped me tightly around the waist. I thought, “if we’d lived here, instead of two blocks away, would everything have been different?”

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