During the day I’m fine. I wear myself out with long walks and writing sessions and chats so that by the time I cook dinner and clean up, I can barely read a page before sleep claims me. I’m grateful for how quickly and heavily it rises up, darkness encircling me like a security blanket—
like a lover’s caress.
But I wake very early. At that hour, the city is stripped of bravado, and so am I. And in that unarmored state, the full weight of loss lands on my chest. Before I can assemble all the very valid reasons we’re no longer together, I miss him. His scratchy voice and soft mouth and enthusiastically punctuated texts; his sweet, sad eyes belying the shtick that’s made him a legend in certain circles. I miss the depth of our connection, the hope we could be happier and more whole as a result.
Our limbs so easily entwined.
I pad into the kitchen only to realize I’m out of coffee because, for all my bravado, I was too melancholy to buy more. I pull a trench coat over a slip and duck downstairs.
“Piccione,” says the coffee shop owner, an unconscionable flirt. “You came naked so you wouldn’t have to pay? That’s fine, my wife is away.”
I look down and realize I’m dressed like a flasher. Whatever. I can’t afford his fancy espresso, anyhow. “Yessss,” I say and wink. He and I both pretend I’m not half-assing the exchange.
A guy ordering a red-eye glances at me, as does his dog–a short-haired black mutt with a sensitive nose and tiny white socks. It’s a testament to my broken heart that I notice the dog’s looks more than the guy’s, though clearly neither are in the market for my type (human female).
“Are you a neighbor my age?” he asks and gives me an uneven grin that wins me over immediately. We await our coffees and compare notes. He mentions he’s seen me around with the Legend.
“Ya,” I say. “We’re mid breakup.”
“You dumped him?”
“Let me guess,” the guy says, cocking an eyebrow while his dog nudges my legs companionably. “He was selfish and career-obsessed.”
I stare. “Selfish and career-obsessed” sounds a lot better than “He didn’t really love me.” We exchange numbers, and I toddle back upstairs with a coffee and a story to tell Rachel.
After I finish relating it to her–guffaws, assertions of how “the universe has my back,” all the stuff of which 40something friendship is made–I settle back into bed, satisfied. Outside my window, the city has suited up again in its matter-of-fact glamour.
And I burst into tears.
Photos by Bill Cunningham