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ory Five years into their marriage, their bright, shining promises have come to this: They can’t live together and can’t live apart Where Did Our Love Go? by CAROLINE JAFFE his chévre is a little disappointing,” Kevin says, cutting a slice and pop: ping it into his mout ‘We should complain,” Anne, his wife, answers. It is the last week- end of summi hey are sitting on the enclosed porch at his moth- house, a large creation filled with wicker and white, adomed with rywhere like a cake. Anne lights a cigarette and holds it up, blowing the smoke out in steady intervals. With her other hand she feels the thin line of her braid against her back. Lately she has been doing this a lot, feeling her hair with her fin: gers, ever since the spring, when it began falling out in the shower. She'd look down, ns, shocked at what her body always considered her hair her best feature, brushed it loose for parties so it fell in a yellow fan across her shoulders, or coiled it into an ele- ant bun for her job at the law office. he'd been so alarmed she"d doctor, hoping he could give quick remedy, some lotion or ins or a special shampoo. But he just looked at her and shook his head. ‘Could be stress. Under any stress lately?” he asked her She didn Everyone must try these,” she says, holding one up to the light. “They're quail eggs. aren't they cute? Just like little regular (continued re 174) Our Love Go? (continued from page 172) “What do they taste like?” Anne asks her “Like regular eggs,” Kevin says, rolling his eyes. You're supposed to dip them in this sea salt mixture I made.” Lila explains, setting the dish down, ‘She puts one in her mouth and attempts to describe the experience as she’s going through it: “See, you really taste the yolk. It has a yolky taste, T think, Anyway, Herb and Claire had better like them, They'll be here any minute, I'm just warming you about Herb.” “What about him?” Kevin asks. “Well, he's got this litle memory problem, He asks a question and then five minutes later he asks the same thing again, He'll ask you about your computer business a hundred times, Tm sure of it, Anyway, i’ really kind ‘of annoying. Poor Claire Lila takes a sip of the champagne and cassis she has made for herselt, and stats circling the porch like a bird. Kevin and Anne know she is looking for her cigarettes, and they start check ing tables and seat cushions. “What's the matter with him?” Anne asks. They think it’s Alzheimer’s, but neither one of them believes in doctors s0 they won't go.” “Great. Do they ive around here?” “In Wainscot,” Lila answers. “Nice house, built in the sixties but not an architectural statement, you know.” She disappears into the kitchen leaving Kevin and Anne alone. The sun is setting, and bands of orange light filter onto their faces from a far window. ‘Anne looks at him, the dark curves of his cheeks his large, almond eyes. “What color are they?” she'd asked hhim on the street on one of their early dates, turning his face toward her. “Hazel,” he'd said, pulling her toward him. 1 GOT THE BILL FOR THE CD PLAYER. Kevin says, taking an egg and turning it with his fingers. pay it,” Anne says, remember: ing their last joint purchase, the two of them at some fluorescent store looking for the ultimate sound. “What do you think?” she'd asked him, walking back and forth across the “I.don’t know, what do you think?” he said. [don’t know, what do you think” she said again ‘Anne had liked it when they first shopped together for household items. ‘The prospect of spending money together seemed to unity them, even small things, like coasters and napkin holders and sponges. The smaller the item, the more important it somehow seemed, ‘When they separated, they decided she would take the CD player, and sometimes, alone in her new house, she'd hear the resonance of the bass, the vocals clear as a pin drop, each note so perfect you could almost touch it, and she felt guilty. They had failed able to get exotic foods at two in the: morning. The arguments began and ended and began again, diffuse, like strange smoke, coming from nowhere, going nowhere. “refuse to live in New York,” Anne hhad said on the way home from one of their gourmet food shopping sprees. Kevin was an expert cook. and sought ‘out special foods, balsamic vinegars and extra-virgin olive oils with hand- painted labels. He insisted on herbs in their natural state, garie and ehili pep- pers on the vine. It all seemed to multi- ply in the car and surround her. ‘The suburbs are worse,” Kevin said. “I just can’t deal with’a house and a lawn and dog and all that. I just don’t think it’s moi.” It was the way he no longer felt for her body in the night, the way they kept things to themselves instead of talking. cach other. She had failed him, She did not deserve the luxury of laser sound, ‘Alice and Mike’s wedding is com- ing up.” she says. “Did you want to g0 in on a present, or should T just get something?” Kevin doesn’t say anything. He puts the egg back in the bowl and leans his head back against the couch “Twas thinking about a bottle of champagne and some glasses. you know? T've always wanted to get that for someone, something that goes together like that.” Kevin strokes his hair off his fore- head with the back of his hand. ‘Do you know what I mean?” she asks him, “Go ahead. Go ahea Yes, just go ahead, just do it Fine.” she says, flicking some cerumbs off her skirt. “That's what Fl do, then.” he says WE'VE REACHED AN IMPASSE,” THEY told their friends in the spring, when they both moved out of their Jersey City apartment and she took a plac Westchester and he rented a one- bedroom in the East Village. What they told people was that after five years of marriage, they had discovered that she liked the country and he liked the city. She talked about having space and light and a garden, He talked about museums and restaurants, Being He had lived in France the summer before he was in college, and liked to throw in French words during an argu- ‘ment for emphasis. “What if I left?” she said slowly. They were in the kitchen, and she watched him watch the sauce in their new electric stirrer turn and turn, “Ldon’t know,” Kevin sai “I'm saying, what if I eft?” “I don’t know. T told you,” he said. He peered over the pot and inhaled slowly. “I think the sauce will be ready soon.” “Screw the sauce.” she said, and she unplugged the pan and threw the liquid into the garbage can. “You're ruining dinner,” he said, throwing his hands up, and he went ‘over to the garbage and tried to salvage what was left ‘Screw dinner,” she said, and she stormed out of the kitchen and out the door and she didn’t come back for hours. One night, driving home from a wedding, they stared at the bland stretch of the New Jersey turnpike. "You know, it’s more than geography she said, tuming toward him. T know,” he said. They realized it was more than the kind of air they wanted to breathe, or being able to get 4 certain thing at a certain place at a certain time. It was the way he no longer felt for her body in bed in the middle of the (continued on page 176) — ‘| Our Love Go? (continued from page 174) night. The way she went for walks alone. The way they kept things to themselves that they once used to talk about. The ‘way they both quietly, mysteriously, fell out of love, like a language that was slowly slipping away from them. ANNE KISSES KEVIN ON THE CHEEK. “I'M GOING UPSTAIRS for a minute.” she says. “AI righty.” he says. She goes up to the room they're using for the weekend, taking her drink with her, and stands in front of the mirror. Slowly, she pulls her hairband out, and a small clump of hair ‘comes with it, Alarmed, she quickly fluffs her hair out with her fingers to make it seem like more. ‘A man comes up behind her. He is putting his arms around her waist, pulling her toward him. She realizes it isn't Kevin she’s thinking about. It's Nate, a neighbor who had offered to help her with her boxes when she first moved to her house in Westchester. He was blond and tall and smelled of natural deodorant, herbal, like a forest. She noticed the way the muscles in his arms tensed when he lift ‘ed her boxes. She noticed the soft hairs on the tops of his hands. They were standing in her bedroom talking about how long it took to get to Manhattan, and then he touched her check, and they began kissing amid the boxes of her old. life scattered across the room. He had colored rings on his, fingers, turquoise and malachite, and slowly he began to slip them off, ‘don’t want to hurt you.” he said, pulling her to the bed. ‘You won't,” she said, holding him so tightly it fright- ened her. Nate was the first man she'd made love to besides Kevin in six years, and it had felt foreign and illicit to her. There were different words uttered in passion, different ways of touching, different rhythms, and she said and leamed and felt them all. She thinks about it now and then, not as some- thing that was right or wrong, but as something she had wanted to happen, needed to happen, and that, for her, had been reason enotigh. Sometimes, she dreams about him. Sometimes, she sees his colored rings lined up along her dresser like small suns, When she goes back downstairs Herb and Claire have arrived and everyone is sitting on the porch drinking cham- pagne and sharing Long Island Rail Road horror stories. Lila takes Anne’s arm, “Everyone, meet Anne, Kevin’s wife-” Herb and Claire shake Anne’s hand from their chairs. They both look to be in their sixties. Their faces are pale. Herb has on a suit and bow tie and Claire a white blouse and a skirt “You must try the quail eze the bowl. They each take one. “Taste like regular eggs,” they say, almost in unison, “Let me see the new kitchen,” Claire says with a burst of energy, bounding up from her chair. Lila had her ‘chen redesigned last summer, with an island and buil shelves and track lighting. It is something people want to see, Anne notices, like a new baby, peachy and full of potential. ‘On the porch, Kevin and Anne watch Herb as he eats the eggs, wiping the comers of his mouth but missing the spots where yolk has collected, Lila says, offering them “So,” he says. “What type of work you do’ “Computers,” Kevin answers, tapping his glass with his thumbs. “Top field these days, top field,” he says, “Yes, itis.” ‘Like it?” No” “Good for you, good for you,” Herb say’ Kevin and Anne smile at each other. “Where do you two live?” Herb asks. “The East Village.” Kevin answers. “Wesichester,” Anne says. He chuckles. “Must be newlyweds.” They laugh. “Where'd you meet?” “Senior year of college,” Anne offers. “College sweethearts,” he says. “That must have been ‘convenient for you.” “What?” Kevin asks. “Convenient. You know. the two of you right there for ceach other all the time.” “1 suppose so,” Anne says. “I never really thought of it that way.” “THIS HOUSE IS LOBSTER-READY.” CLAIRE SAYS, AS everyone sits down to dinner. “You have lobster plates, lob- ster forks, lobster bibs, everything lobster.” “Oh, yes, we're ready for anything here.” Lil ing. “Perfect end-of-summmer meal. Everyone dig it “Anne tucks her hair behind her ears and begins eating, knowing just what part of the lobster to crack. Kevin’s mot cer has taught her all that over the years, the way to pick apart ‘a lobster, that chévre is goat cheese, that there are tomatoes shaped like lightbulbs. “Kevin and Anne are planning a Europe trip this winter, right kids?” Lila says. “We're thinking about it,” Anne says, realizing it’s just another issue between them they have to decide, another item to be jotted down on a napkin in some café, discussed ‘over the phone from Manhattan to Westchester. “So what are we doing?” Kevin had asked her all summer, “Tdon't know, what are we doing?” ‘They had told Lila back in the spring about their separa- tion, but she had treated it like a phase, as if the whole thing ‘were a sickness that would pass. Still, Anne felt her watch- ing them all weekend as if trying to find hidden meanings; ‘whether they embraced in the hallway or passed each other by. whether she served him food or let him get it himself, whether she sat in his lap or took a seat on the other side of the room. Herb looks up from his lobster, which is scattered across his plate, bits of cartilage and shell mixed in with the green liver and the clear round cluster Anne recognizes as the brain, She begins to feel nauseated. says, smil- “So,” he says. folding his napkin up and scrunching it, onto his plate. “How long you two been married?” “Five years,” Kevin says. “How'd you meet, anyway?” “College,” Anne offers again, pushing her plate away and taking a long sip of wine, “Actually, not until senior year We were eyeing each other for a while, but it wasn’t until senior year we started dating.” “Ah, dating,” he says. “Dating. Must have been conve- ‘nient for you, having each other right there.” Yes," they both say, At that (continued on page 179), Our Love Go? (continued from page 177) moment, Anne cannot actually remember many of their dates. She remembers the first time she met Kevin, They were in a class together, an elective called “How Things Work.” physics for humanities stu- dents, and she'd noticed him from across the room, She liked his eyes, and the way his arms curved in soft ares, They talked after class, helped ‘each other during exams, kissed in the stark light of the dorm rooms amid notes on the properties of mass. Sometimes she would sleep over when his roommate was away. and she'd sneak back to her room the next morning, tiptoeing across the main ee Hunter” He points out the outline. “Do ‘She nods. “I didn’t know that. I idn’tknow you knew that.” ‘She feels the ends of her hair, and brings the braid around to one side of her face, A thinning rope. “Hey.” he says, “I'm a knowledge able kind of guy.” He puts his arm around her and she leans against his shoulder. wondering why she cannot imagine the two of them together anymore, the way they are now, side by side, eating ice cream, talking about what a small piece of sky means. LATE AT NIGHT, AFTER HERB AND Claire have eaten their ice cream and gone home, after Lila has gone to sleep, they sneak down to Lila’s pool. After a night with Kevin, she was spent and exhilarated, feeling she had the most precious secret in the world. square as the sun rose, spent and exhilarated at the same time, feeling she had the most precious secret in the world, WHERE DO YOU LIVE?” HERB ASKS Kevin again, but Claire interrupts. ‘Herb, please.” she says, patting his arm. “Lila, do you find having that {sland in the kitchen to be a big help: “A lifesaver.” Lila angwers, taki sip of her wine. “Really.” AFTER DINNER, LILA SENDS KEVIN, and Anne to get ice cream. She won't tell them what flavor she wants, which surprises everyone. nything you kids like.” she says, although they’ know she has rejected their choices before. Cherry vanilla Anything with almonds. ‘Anne drives them into town, taking Lila’s station wagon. They are relieved to get away from the dinner table. “Herb didn’t let up, did he?” Anne says as they drive down the dark road into town, No, he didn’t.” he says, not look~ ing at her, They buy cups of ice cream for themselves, which they eat in the car. Through the windshield they see stars, Anne doesn’t know what any of them are, 1 think that's a constellation, The ‘They pull their clothes off by the water and slide in, nervously, as if they had just met, as if their bodies had changed in thei time apart. ‘Anne watches Kevin's dark skin. the small bulge of his stomach, his thin arms. “That Herb is something else.” Kevin says, ‘A real character.” Anne says. She goes underwater, feeling with pleasure the way her hair seems to weigh more, have more density. When she surfaces, the food and the wine and the night air make her feel intoxi- cated, loose and free. She thinks of the change of seasons. She thinks of Nate and his colored rings, and Kevin Kevin, Her husband. She watches him as he slowly swims to the other end. She thinks how far apart they are, far- ther than the distance of the pool, far- ther than the miles between New York and Westchester. “Hey.” he says to her from across the water. “Know what I'm thinking?” °No”” she answers slowly, laying her- self out along the surface of the water looking up at the spray of stars.) Caroline Jaffe is an editor and a free: lance writer in New York. She has won ‘awards for her poetry and short fiction ‘and is currenily at work on a novel ‘and a collection of stories

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