"I was sentimental about many things: a woman’s shoes under the bed; one hairpin left behind on the dresser; the way they said, ‘I’m going to pee … ‘; hair ribbons; walking down the boulevard with them at 1:30 in the afternoon, just two people, walking together; the long nights of drinking and smoking, talking; the arguments; thinking of suicide; eating together and feeling good; the jokes, the laughter out of nowhere; feeling miracles in the air; being in a parked car together; comparing past loves at 3 a.m.; being told you snore, hearing her snore; mothers, daughters, sons, cats, dogs; sometimes death and sometimes divorce, but always carrying on, always seeing it through; reading a newspaper alone in a sandwich joint and feeling nausea because she’s now married to a dentist with an I.Q. of 95; racetracks, parks, park picnics; even jails; her dull friends, your dull friends; your drinking, her dancing; your flirting, her flirting; her pills, your fucking on the side, and her doing the same, sleeping together… ."

— Bukowski, Women

"Then I said something. I said, Suppose, just suppose, nothing had ever happened. Suppose this was for the first time. Just suppose. It doesn’t hurt to suppose. Say none of the other had ever happened. You know what I mean? Then what? I said."

Chef’s House, Raymond Carver

"I kept thinking of … how hard it is to find love, and how harder still to be loved, or believe you are loved; and how often and easily, and cheaply and wantonly, the word ‘love’ is abused. And - and this, as I stood there, struck me as almost the most pitiful fact of all - how much more conditioned we sorry beings are to respond to the sham, the pinchbeck which parades as love but isn’t love at all."

The Other Side of You, Salley Vickers

Proof [minutelovestory #72]

Uncle Jimmy is a maker of marble. That’s his business. His private office is above a Persian rug showroom on Robertson and Pico and you know he’s in there because you hear his coughing, but can’t see him through the smoke gathered in the tiny room. He can afford a larger space, but doesn’t like change. His kitchen often smells sour, he uses his sink disposal with a lack of foresight, but I suspect he can’t smell much of anything, even Marla’s sweet jasmine and orange blossom perfume.

 Uncle Jimmy tried transitioning from Uncle Jimmy to Uncle James upon meeting Marla, who once slaughtered a chicken at the behest of her shaman in order to rid her psyche of her ex-husband. Neither effort was effective.

 Uncle Jimmy is fond of the phrase “the proof is in the pudding” and sometimes uses it five times in an hour. One summer afternoon, he stood with Marla at a convenience store counter, wiping his dripping forehead with one hand, the other gathering salt and vinegar potato chips, declaring, “Whooey! It’s hotter ‘n two rats fuckin’ in a wool sock!” For three days afterwards, Marla didn’t call him, saving her jasmine for someone who noticed it.

"Whatever he began by saying he would end by saying nothing. He would say something and she would say something and before either of them knew it they would be playing out a dialogue so familiar that it drained the imagination, blocked the will, allowed them to drop words and whole sentences and still arrive at the cold conclusion. ‘Oh Christ,’ he would say. ‘I felt good today, really good for a change, you fixed that, you really pricked that balloon.’"

— Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays

"I want nothing from love, in short, but love."

—  Colette, La Vagabonde

The Divorce Hotel [minutelovestory #62]

Making our reservation at the Divorce Hotel was surprisingly easy. I was chewing gum while I dialed. I never chewed gum during my marriage. Maybe I was shifting into someone else. People shift. That happens. And we erode, too. We’re more like the earth than we realize.

Like all of our travel plans made throughout our marriage, I was in charge of coordinating the hotel, airfare, cab, and discovering the lauded restaurants frequented by locals. For this short trip, I did not pack his bag for him, though I imagined he might be wearing henleys for the entire weekend, the top button always undone, the crewneck collar flapped open slightly.

Checking into The Divorce Hotel, we were not greeted with enthusiasm. None of the staff wished us a joyful stay. The concierge ignored us when you made me laugh loudly in the marble lobby. Obviously, they’d been informed that we were not the usual guests. We were checking in to check out. This hotel would save us thousands in lawyers’ fees. At dinner, I drank champagne, you wore a silk tie. Feeling oddly auspicious even while freedom and failure summoned us with weakening restraint, we toasted, like gleeful spendthrifts, to getaways.

"Before too long, we were back to where we were before, slamming each other around. By anyone’s standards, I suppose, I’m bad and ill-tempered, but David matches me in that and it’s why we were so compatible. We go about our hypocrisy with aplomb. And we’re complacent, too, mostly about what we have and what we can get. He is my other. But, you know, these are the cards I was dealt, and that’s the way I played my hand, and I don’t much care what you think."

— Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

"He had always loved me and kept that love a secret from me. Every man likes to pretend that he’s in the CIA, a holder of vast dangerous secrets. This is why they suffer so in telling you that they love you."
- Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

"He had always loved me and kept that love a secret from me. Every man likes to pretend that he’s in the CIA, a holder of vast dangerous secrets. This is why they suffer so in telling you that they love you."

- Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

"When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it."

— Ian McEwan, Enduring Love

"I was always thinking about her even when I wasn’t thinking. Days went by when I did little else. She had left me one night as a complete surprise. I didn’t know where she went. I didn’t know if she was ever coming back. I searched her dresser and closet for any clues. There wasn’t anything there, nothing. No lotions or creams in the bathroom. She had really cleaned out. I thought back on our years together. They seemed happy to me. Summers on the beach, winters in the mountains skiing. What more could she want? We had friends, dinner parties. I walked around thinking, maybe she didn’t love me all that time. I felt so alone without her. I hated dinners alone, I hated going to bed without her. I thought she might at least call, so I was never very far from the phone. Weeks went by, months. It was strange how time flew by when you had nothing to remember it by. My friends never mentioned her. Why can’t they say something? I thought. I remembered every tiny gesture of her hand, every smile, every grimace. Birthdays, anniversaries — I never forgot. But then something strange started to happen. I started doubting every memory. Even her face began to fade. The trip to Majorca, was it something I read in a book? The jolly dinner parties, were they a dream? I didn’t trust anything any longer. I searched the house for any trace of her. Nothing. I started asking my friends if they remembered anything about her. They looked at me as if I were crazy. I sat at home and began to cheer up. What if none of this happened? I thought. What if there was nothing to be sad about?"

— James Tate, FREE

Therapy (minutelovestory #46)

We both know Brenda wasn’t always this fat. If she had been, I wouldn’t be here.

Do I feel guilty for telling our friends she’s almost obese? God, no. I’m angry that I have to say anything at all. I’m horrified. She’s quite literally the elephant in the room. I’m forced to announce what everyone already can see: my wife is no longer attractive. There’s too much of her. Everyone knows it. But what can I do?

When she was fired as the tile company’s front desk secretary, that was when she started to get especially huge, threatening to file a wrongful termination suit, eating lots of glazed donuts from Gladys’, leaving sticky wax paper wadded on the coffee table.

I guess she’s looking for a new career these days, because she just started an online aromatherapy course, but she didn’t even crack a smile when I asked how she was going to smell the scents through the computer screen. I mean, that’s funny, right?

Shouldn’t she be happy? She eats whatever she wants, without one word from me. Can’t she laugh every once in a while? Shouldn’t at least one of us be smiling?

Dyeing (minutelovestory #39)

By the time I’d been married twice and Jim, my second husband, had left me, though he was the bankrupt one without a job, I’d decided to stop coloring my hair. It was a task that had, over years, accumulated hundreds of plastic bottles of permanent hair dye and map-like folded instructions in English, Spanish, and French, discarded in the bathroom trash bin. Stained with the mahogany dye, droplets splattered, gloves smeared, the bloodied packaging seemed to represent a murderous success. I considered it a testament to my inevitable aging, losing my menstrual cycle only to continue on living with a ritualistic and silly version of bloodletting.

Alone in my apartment, watching the pigeons gather at my downstairs neighbor’s offering of strewn birdseed in the driveway, feeling as though I’m surrounded by occupied strollers and ponytailed women and very shiny cars, I yearn for a home elsewhere with a 1/4 or a 1/2 in the address. I wished for an apartment with a name like Terrace Garden or Citrus Grove. But even in the fantasy of living there, I realize the smallness of the imaginary space, only a quarter of a structure. It’s just a percentage of a home.

Greedy (minutelovestory #38)

I was married for twelve years. Married to a woman, I mean. We have a daughter and she has three kids, the youngest is Mary, a complete hellion of a child. She could not have been less appropriately named. Every generation of a family has a ‘bad seed’ and Mary is it. I was my own generation’s. Old ladies in the neighborhood still talk about me, I’m sure.

I loved both of them, men and women. I still do. But women were so much work, so much sifting through things being said and done and wondering what was truthful and real versus what a woman considered truthful and real, always subject to change. Tick-tock and ding, ding - new definition of reality. Thank Christ, there’s none of that with men. No interpretations needed, just outright expression. And, to be fair, I wanted to have sex with men, but I wanted to be intimate with women. It’s still something with which I struggle. I’ve been told I’m greedy, needing both sexes to give me fulfillment. Maybe that’s true, that I’m a greedy bastard with exquisite taste, but I won’t deny the fact that part of me still wants it all and everything.