She knew the man who broke her heart would be at her best friend’s wedding, and she wished to God she could show up with a fabulous Romanian fiancé of obscure royal descent who would give her ex the evil eye and dance too close to her at the reception. An unfortunate booking accident at the local hotel would have them staying next door to each other, and the ex would toss and turn for several miserable hours trying to ignore the animal screams of ecstasy audible through the paper-thin walls.
She said she was only interested in reciprocity, and he asked her to define the term. She answered without hesitation: “The price of my surrender is yours.”
He wore red crocodile skin loafers, listened to Elton John, and watched “Queer As Folk” religiously. Still, he couldn’t comprehend why no one seemed terribly surprised when he finally came out.
Two of the art professors were married and could each (but never both of them together) be found at all hours of the day and night working in the studio on their own projects. The students could never decide if their marriage was really enviable, really unhealthy, or perhaps both.
Sometime in elementary school, as she was walking up a short flight of stairs, she realized that even if she began in that moment, she could not finish reading all of the books in existence before she died; and so she would have to make choices. And although it seemed, in a way, pointless to possess only in part what she had childishly, unthinkingly assumed would be hers in full, she carried on.
He could never forgive her. He could get past neither the Nothing she did nor the Everything she thought.
He was forever being seduced by younger girls who didn’t know what they wanted. He felt like wearing a badge that said, “It’s fine if you’re immature and confused, just don’t drag me into it—keep your hands to yourself.”
She had never intended to crawl or to substitute cheap, embarrassing romances for something worthy of her own sense of integrity. But as time passed, the waiting became increasingly difficult.
He sometimes contemplated actually fixing the problems that plagued him. But then what would he complain about?
The compliments she received in her childhood actually hurt her much more than the insults. They established a certain set of characteristics she felt compelled to cling to for the rest of her life in order to ensure she would always be liked.
At first he was infuriated by his sickness, but eventually he came to regard it as an invaluable lesson that despite your best efforts, sometimes you simply cannot guarantee your own safety. He stopped hating himself.
We set out on an epic journey. Within the first twenty-four hours, we missed our connecting flight, got accused by the Portuguese police of breaking and entering, and slept with one eye open in an apartment crawling with spiders; and still we were undeterred.
Every morning, the same bum would greet her by the stoop in front of her apartment building. His salutation was always the same, to the point that it functioned much like a “hello” now, thought it sounded a bit different: “You think I’m paranoid, don’t you!”
He hated reading bad books. His veneration for the written word was such that it always felt like sacrilege not to finish; but on the other hand, life was too short, and there were too many good books to keep going on a bad one.
It was by accident, she showed up in his town; and he immediately asked, “What are you doing here?” She felt so sad, in the moment, because she knew that no matter what answer she gave, no matter how innocent it might really be, he would never believe her.
He fell ill in Monaco after only one day of sightseeing. The good news was, he’d already seen all the sights there were to see.
I’ve asked over and over again why we began this. I think some reasons maintained themselves, others fell by the wayside, and new ones arose.
Every now and then she still exchanged e-mails with the men she had met whilst traveling. She knew it was a waste of time and would have stopped completely, only it seemed a bit cold and rude.
He always felt strangely envious of people poorer than he was. He considered it a curse that for people with too many choices, there could be a kind of paralysis expressing itself in their aimless drifting, such that luxury overwhelms their abilities to express themselves distinctly in their own lives.
She was too happy to enjoy being happy. She knew it couldn’t last and so spoiled the moment by keeping an eye around the corner to see what might be coming to bust her bubble.