On my grandmother’s loveseat, I thought as I often do of her sitting on it in that small assisted living apartment she moved into after my grandfather died one Christmas Eve.
New furniture would be good for her, my mother said, not so saturated in memories of the past. So they went shopping and got a bedroom set. Two recliners. A coffee table. A flat-screen television. The loveseat I am sitting on now, tonight, as I transmit these words to you, and on which I wonder again what it must have been like for her. Nearly all trace of her former life wiped clean, a stranger to herself. Herself her only company at night.
Every morning, waking in that strange apartment that was not her home, that was not their home, opening her eyes to the fresh paint on the bedroom walls that only intensified my grandfather’s absence beside her in bed, highlighting just how alone, and old, she had become.
In February 2014, after being single for years, I began dating again. I was thirty-two years old and had decided: if I could no longer be a writer and academic, maybe I could start thinking about having a family instead. I intended to quit my PhD program and get certified as an AntiGravity instructor and teach a few classes a week. I began seeing a man who was divorced, nearing forty and feeling his own clock ticking, and when I read somewhere that the chances of everyone’s first marriage working out aren’t great but that divorced men tend to stick with their second wives until the end, I got over the fact of his divorce pretty fast. He had moved to Salt Lake City for a job, and it paid well enough, he told me, to support a family if I did quit.
A few months later, I would turn him into the Portuguese lover, but the Portuguese lover is a fiction. Everything about the Portuguese lover is a fiction.
Everything is a story. You are a story. I am a story.
Molly Gaudry is the author of the verse novels We Take Me Apart and Desire: A Haunting. She teaches fiction, experimental fiction, flash fiction, and lyric essay workshops at the Yale Writers’ Conference.