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Barbara’s Story: How to Fall Out of Love

First, go with friends to a bar on a snowy night. Feel at your best, like you could be anyone. Smile, be radiant and throw your head back when you laugh. Be introduced to the friend of a friend of a friend who has been watching you from a dark corner. Talk for hours about nothing and realize how much you have in common. Have him walk you home.

In the quiet of the night hear how your footsteps magically crunch the snow in unison. Agree to meet the next night.The following night realize that he is older and shorter that originally perceived. Note that he is also brilliant and funny enough to make up for the shortcomings. Laugh a lot. Drink a lot. Laugh some more. “Did I mention I’m a doctor?” he says.In the back of your mind start planning the wedding.See him every night for the next three months.

When you go to movies, imagine you and he are the main characters. Sit together on the same side of the bench in all-night coffee shops. Go to bookstores. Discover that you both like Historical Fiction. Go to expensive restaurants, hold hands from across the table, ignore the waiters. Lose a lot of sleep. Give thanks to the gods that you finally know what it is to be loved, loved, loved. Feel yourself bursting from the inside out. Imagine yourself splattered all over the bedroom wall. Travel to LA for work. Be gone 4 days. Have him call you everyday. Have him call you every night. Have him call you at 3am two nights in a row just to talk. Lose more sleep.Have him surprise you at the airport. Have him give you a hug, a kiss and ask, “Did anyone hit on you?” Think he said, “Did anyone hit you.” On the ride from the airport have him ask, “Why don’t you move in?” Be thrilled. Say yes.

Saturday morning, have him arrive at your apartment before you’ve had your coffee. You haven’t started packing. Have him tell you won’t need much. Think that is so romantic.His apartment is a high-rise overlooking the park. You have part of a closet, a shelf in the medicine cabinet and a view to die for. Wonder what you will tell your mom when she asks why you never answer your phone. Arrive home late one evening. Have him ask, “Did anyone hit on you?” Realize he’s the jealous type. Think it’s “cute.” No one has ever been jealous of you before because this is the first time you’ve ever really been in love, love, love, and this is just how you thought it would be, having someone love you so much they become sick with jealousy just like in the movies and isn’t it adorable how anytime you go anywhere alone he always asks, “Did anyone hit on you?”

Let him pick you up from work. “I might be late tonight,” you warn.“I’ll wait,” he says.On the way home he is unusually quiet. You want to ask, “Is anything wrong?” but don’t.Get tangled together in the bed sheets. Lose more sleep. Wake up remembering the PBS program where a python is smothering a rabbit just before he swallows her whole. Your toes try to wiggle away but your legs won’t let them.Begin to get tired. Really, really tired. Take the train home, fall asleep, miss your stop.
Have the conductor wake you up in New Jersey. Get back to the city, call and explain. Be nervous but wonder why.

Have him sitting by the phone when you get there. Notice a hole in the wall the size of his fist. Tell him that you’re sorry. Watch him come at you like a charging rhino. Move out of the way just as he puts another hole in the wall. Watch his face burn red and his eyes disappear under angry folds of flesh. Feel the air move as his fist slams the wall by your right ear.Turn and run. Run as fast as your little rabbit legs can carry you. Take a taxi back to your old apartment. Lock the doors and be glad you never gave him a key.

Lose more sleep.The next day get red roses at work, a profusion of roses that look like a funeral spray. Don’t read the note. Realize that he thinks you like red roses, but you don’t, they give you hives. Decide to walk home instead of taking the train. See couples walking hand in hand.

Shudder and walk faster.

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