I expected to miss our old place. I expected to feel some nostalgia for that 1890s Victorian railroad flat that hadn’t been considered modern since 1939. But I don’t. It had been exactly 3 years since I had moved in as a depressed, numb, unemployed, almost clinically underweight refugee from everything I knew in life. During those first few months in that apartment, I considered it a major accomplishment if I made it through the day. I woke up, I walked the dogs, I dressed, I rode my bike to work, I worked, I bought a $2 batch of french fries for lunch, I worked some more, I rode my bike home, I walked the dogs again, I ate some cheese and crackers for dinner, and then I waited for night to come. I waited for sleep and respite from all the pain and heartbreak I had experienced in the prior 2 years.

I slept on an air mattress borrowed from a friend. I also owned 2 lawn chairs and 3 Ikea Lack coffee tables purchased from Ikea. Rounding out my possessions were a $120 worth of goods purchased by my mother at the Wal-mart in Indianola, IA. The items ranged from 1 blanket and a set of sheets to a broom to dish detergent. They were the items that my mother had determined without which I couldn’t live indepently on my own. I was 31 years old and had traveled the world. But I was too broke — financially, emotionally, and spiritually — to purchase my own basic needs at Wal-mart.

Soon the summer turned into fall. In that time, I finally ended things with the Bulgarian ex-boyfriend, once and for all. Work took up more of my time and so I spent less time waiting for night to come.  I was still in contact with the Dutchman in Europe for I needed him to close out my business there. But I only had 2 friends to my name in San Francisco. I spent my time with my dogs. I walked and walked the hills of San Francisco. My weight stayed low. I cut my own hair. When I became inept at my own cutting, I ventured into the heart of the Mission looking for someone who could do it on the cheap. I came back to the old Victorian flat with a crew cut. I cried and mourned all the material things missing in my life, beyond my missing hair. I figured out how to finance the return of my goods from Europe. I took a roommate to help with it all. I reconnected with another ex-boyfriend to atone for my sin of breaking up with him 3 days before he was to visit me in Europe the prior year.

And then…one strange morning, just before Christmas 2006, that ex-boyfriend who I was trying to get back for the mere sake of assauging my guilt of dragging him into and then dumping him out of my messed- up life called. There was somone else he liked, he said. He thought I should know that. I thought back to our hour-long slow dance at my friend’s holiday party the previous week. I recalled the way his hand slipped up my leg at my corporate holiday part only days before. I thought of the multi-hour-long phone calls we had many evening. There was someone else he liked, he said. He thought I should know that. These words replayed themselves over and over in my head before he had even finished saying them.

“Do you still want me to come to your party?” I asked in response.

To be continued…