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For weeks I had been holed up in my family’s empty summerhouse, writing, and I worked all that day, caught up in a kind of luxuriant self-consciousness that has since become familiar — that acute sense of self and solitude that binding oneself to an outsider can at times unleash.
The heat failed in the middle of the night, and we clung to each other for warmth as his dog, Bruce, a German Shepherd, curled and recurled at our feet.Worse still are the car selfies and nephew pics; the weird proliferation of taco and pizza emojis; the men who take it upon themselves to tell you who You’d think that I’d be used to it by now, for I’ve been ghosted again and again, first by Marc after a spontaneous road trip to Montreal; then by Alex after what I thought was a fruitful 12th date; then by Chris after I had nursed him through an LSD trip; then by Ben after he had introduced me to his 10-year-old son.Perhaps I take these vanishings especially to heart, recalling to me as they do the unsolved mystery of my ex-husband’s disappearance.How narrow was my own existence, I thought then, and how it continued to narrow by the day.
But to go on dates with 86 different men is to gain as many windows on the world; it is to see one’s vast city and one’s vast self, if only for a few hours, through the eyes of a stranger one would never otherwise have met. 10, which found me at a Rhode Island pub on a February evening so brutally cold the authorities had advised us all to stay indoors. We drank the espresso martinis he had ordered and argued about welfare; we talked of fathers.
I think of old organic processes, of oceans tempered by rain, of mountains rent by wind and snow, when I think of my creeping disorientation as a wife, of how the self in wedlock can be worn away.