1. i’m crouching in front of an apartment building in midtown, it’s 2am, and hot, and the street in empty. upstairs, he’s pretending not to hear his phone ringing. upstairs, he’s alone but the walls are covered in yellow post-its that his girlfriend has left behind. post-its that remind him she’s always there, even when she’s back in london. i’ll see you soon, darling. downstairs, i’m crying. an hour ago i was on the 19th floor, resting my head against his chest and begging him to run away with me. he laughed sadly and shook his head. he loved me, sure, but he was much older than my idealistic, crazy twenty- three. downstairs, i stand up and start walking toward eighth avenue, and i want to hail a cab but i end up walking home - the saddest, most final of my walks of shame, turns out.
2. he went to mexico with a bunch of his guy friends. the night before he held my hand as we walked into his place in the village, his unfurnished brand new bachelor pad. when i get back i’ll make you a key, he said, and we laid down on the bare floor, on top of his leather jacket. he was a model but he secretly wanted to be architect. when he confessed this on the night we met, i smiled dryly, as if somehow he’d get through the toil of having his picture taken to be strung up on a billboard in times square. you’ll get through it, i said, and he raised his eyebrows because i was sassy and he liked it. inside, my heart was thumping like it was about to collapse because his face was more beautiful than anything i’d seen. but he went to mexico. and when he came back, it wasn’t to me. he never called me again. i wept into a thousand pillow cases. weeks later i spotted him in the same club we’d met. i was drunk and sat down right next to him and my closure came in the form of a sloppy reaming out. you’re an asshole, i said, and that’s a hard thing to be when you’re canadian. good luck with building boats. i got up and my sister put her arm around my shoulders.
3. i’m not in love with you anymore but we can still have sex. for a minute, i considered.
4. an asshole from Argentina would feed me lovely lines. he played soccer and swore he’d dumped her, swore she was no good and i was better than the sun. he fondled me under the awning of my apartment building at 4am, and he slept till noon the next day, and always forgot to call me. i forgave him because forgiveness was another day, another kiss, a sign that i had something he couldn’t shake. but he shook me off, easily & for good, and later i cringed at how low i’d sunk, in the name of love.
4. when he left my dorm, he left little handwritten notes tucked under my pillow, just because. he was the first guy who loved words as much as me, and he sure had a way with them. i didn’t like when he grew his yellow beard, i didn’t like his thick thumbs, but the rest of him was wonderful. especially his little poems with my name in them. he went abroad for a semester, and then, forever. it was a little blue breakup, and it made me wistful and glum. but it came with a bit of maturity on my part, some grace and dignity. i didn’t wilt in the aftermath and this was a new and hopeful thing. i could, in fact, exist without him, and without them. it was a lesson that the heart regenerates with the best of them. the road to love is a winding one, till you reach the end and you reach The One.