When I’d felt everything was falling apart, I’d moved in with Celeste, a friend of my mother’s who was renovating an old Victorian house with extra bedrooms she wanted to rent out. (As psychiatric social workers, she and my mom were working together at Herrick hospital at the time.) Nevertheless, there was a night I chose to spend at Linda’s. In my journal I wrote:

I remember thrashing around in Linda’s bed that night and her putting out her hand to quiet me—then my efforts to stay still and in one spot, feeling claustrophobic in my dreams, like I was going to burst out all over.

I remember sitting at her kitchen table earlier in the evening and starting to cry and not seeing anything after that, except her hand reaching out across the table and gently resting on my arm.

I remember telling her about my argument with Rick about money and his maxim that it was OK to borrow from family but not friends. “He doesn’t realize that for some of us, our friends are our family,” she said.

“Maybe the men we might have been interested in died in Vietnam,” she mused later. And gave me a little book to read with bad poetry and good advice about how to get over a lost love. It made me laugh a little and cry a little until I started to doze off with it in my hand. She got up to turn off the TV and the lights—and then got up five minutes later to get a some warm socks to cover my cold feet.

Another night I dreamed I was to go alone by kayak to an island I had never seen. It was a gray, watery, utterly hopeless dream that had a bleakness difficult to describe. I remember a long wait in a queue of people in front of a narrow canal. When my turn came, I squatted down in the hole of a welded-metal kayak and fitted a steel chest plate over myself and put on a boxy helmet with glass eyepieces to keep out the spray. Then I remember a journey through labyrinthian blank tunnels that went on and on—and only ended with my waking.



The union intervened on my behalf, as I’ve said, and saved my job at Tiburon College.

A year or so later, I ran into Lisa in the card shop where she now clerked.

“So have you heard from Rick?” I asked.

“As a matter of fact, I talked to him a couple of weeks ago.”

“And how’s he doing?”

“Getting rich, I guess,” Lisa shrugged. “He bragged that he’d bought a new Mercedes—and admitted he was putting a lot of money up his nose.”

Sometime later—months…years?—I remembered the dream I’d had about Rick, his head covered up to his eyeballs in dough, and finally made the connection between the two meanings of dough.



Seely let herself in stealthily with the key she had kept, glanced around, then set the electric blanket she’d borrowed on the raunchy old pelt on his bed. As she stood before it, she envisioned his sleepy Pan face, swathed in bedclothes. And suddenly there it was again—sprouting and blooming out of the obdurate ground of her hurt and anger—her love for him.

A bunch of shirts on hangers were sticking out of his open closet door as she passed down the hall. She fingered the sleeves. This, at least, was one touch he couldn’t recoil from. Abruptly, she felt like grabbing them all—this heap of starched laundry—to have and hold the last of him who didn’t want to be held.

She thought of a day Zeke and she had showered together. She hadn’t had a shower cap, so she chose a black hardhat from his fanciful hat collection. The water drummed on it like rain on a roof, while Zeke lathered her up from the bottle of amaretto soap he kept in a pocket in his shower curtain—and lathered himself up too, face and all, till he looked like a snowman; patting her cheeks with foam, he promised it wouldn’t sting her eyes.

As she reached for the doorknob, a sense of loss pierced her through like a rapier—and she buckled against the door.



They sat across from each other at the dining room table just as they had the first afternoon he told her he loved her. When he said he was so busy he couldn’t make much time for her, she wasn’t surprised, only wondered why he thought it was necessary to state the obvious.

When she didn’t respond, he said with evident satisfaction, “Seely, I am the dance-away lover. I like the fantasy, the rush of falling in love. I don’t like it when it gets too real.”

She stared at him then, realizing she was really seeing him for the first time.

Something in her face must have arrested his attention because he went on, “OK, maybe I used you, but I think you used me too.”

“No,” she said quietly, “I don’t think I did.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation,” he sighed, “when I’m settled in Chicago and have a chance to think about all this, I’m going to feel guilty. I can’t get away with anything.”

And as she continued to scrutinize him, she felt herself rending in two, a ghastly tear down her center, one half beginning to hate him for his cruelty, the other half loving him still.



He’d said if he got his asking price on the house, he would take her away for a romantic weekend—maybe stay at a cozy bed-and-breakfast along the northern coast. But now, jubilant that he’d gotten even more than he’d hoped for, he said he expected her to pay her own way, though he knew she was on the verge of losing her job.

Incredulous and stung, she flew down to LA to spend a weekend with her best friend to collect herself and sort things out—her finances so precarious, she borrowed the money from her friend for the standby ticket.

No sooner was she back than she and Zeke had another argument.

“Zeke, there wasn’t any room in the fridge for my groceries. When I got back from the store, somebody else’s stuff was on my shelf and when I tried to move it, smelly fish water spilled all over the floor.”

“Your shelf! So you’re getting territorial about the refrigerator? The space is for all of us to share.”

“But Lisa told me when I moved in to take the bottom shelf. I thought…”

But he refused to listen. “I didn’t know you were so selfish,” he muttered, walking out of the room.

Later, when she tried to explain again, he changed the subject, saying it turned him off that she’d borrowed money from a friend.

“But you just borrowed $50,000 from your parents!” she cried.

“That’s different—I borrowed money from family.

“Well, my family doesn’t have any money to lend me.”

She felt panicky then about everything coming apart—that she was going to lose her home, her job, her lover… Maybe if she went ahead and found another place to live, began to settle herself in a new life—maybe it would take some of the pressure off their relationship… So she did.



Early the next morning, she found Zeke out on the porch sweeping wet leaves. It was the day of his Open House. She put her arms around him and told him she wanted to go to Chicago with him. She felt incredibly happy. Then she went downstairs and took her guitar out of its case and began to sing, and, strangely, she found herself singing a song she’d written years ago and had, until then, lost all memory of.



He had told her he couldn’t take her to Chicago with him—he’d be too preoccupied and would have too much to do.

That evening he came knocking at her door just as she was shutting her book to go to bed. She wasn’t about to open the door, she was still so mad. All she wanted to do was sleep—to blot him out. But he went around the back of the house and tapped on her window…so finally, grudgingly, she let him in. As she crawled back into bed, he stretched himself out on top of the covers beside her.

“Something smells good,” he said.

“It must be my breath,” she said dryly. “Onions, garlic…I had leftover pizza for dinner.” She covered her mouth with the bedspread. He moistly kissed her nose. She covered her nose…he kissed her eyes. She covered her eyes…he kissed her forehead.

“I think I’ll stay under here,” she said. “It’s wet out there.”

Each time she tried to peek out, he tried to kiss her. And when he began to laugh, his stomach jiggling on top or hers made her laugh too.