Love in the Time of a Lease

By Caroline Moss

You had broken up in March, you told me, over our second date, but you both still technically lived in the apartment. “It’s New York City,” you shrugged, and not unkindly, “We made a stupid mistake by moving in together and we had to be adults about it.”

“Right,” I had said, objectively, between sips of water, “who can afford to break a lease here?”

You didn’t owe me that, I reminded myself as I broke the news to my co-workers who eagerly awaited news of the success or lack-thereof of the second date.

“He still lives with his ex,” a co-worker pointed out, “get out now.”

“But he told her about it upfront,” another chimed in, “it’s not like he was hiding it from her.”

“Right,” I had said, objectively, between the chirps from the peanut gallery, “he didn’t have to tell me that on the second date.”

“Are they ever there together? Like, in the same bed?” a third co-worker asked.

I didn’t know the answer. You offered the information up on the second date, so was I allowed to ask for more on the third? I didn’t know the answer to that, either.

You invited me to spend the night after the fourth date, an invitation that was soberly extended and soberly accepted. You didn’t seem nervous.

I was.

She was everywhere I looked that first night. The suspiciously Lily Pulitzer-esque ottoman. The throw pillows I would have picked out myself at Anthropologie. The pictures on the wall; a Christmas card. You, her, and your dog, the one that jumped on me the second I walked through your door. Ticket stubs from Edward Sharpe concerts tacked up on a bulletin board. Wedding invitations made out to the unit you used to be half of on the fridge. Bobby pins carelessly lost and forgotten, something tucked in every corner of an apartment that you once decided, together, to start a life in.

You and I kept dating.

And I kept coming back to the apartment, each time, a little more at home with myself than the time before. I’d set my weekend bag on your bed and join you on the couch for a glass of wine; we’d talk about work, and make plans for the weekend. We’d kiss, you in your tee-shirt and shorts, me in my leggings and ponytail, like we’d been kissing on that couch with the dog fighting for our attention for years.

I guess the only nagging issue was that, technically, you had been doing these things for years. The difference was the pair of lips on the other side of yours.

You’d put your arm around me and pull me in before turning on an episode of Curb we both had missed last week, you murmuring your signature “c’mere” when I was already as there as I could be. Every so often you’d kiss my forehead, or I’d look up at you and smile. And then we’d retreat to bed, holding each other in the dark, laughing, talking, kissing, and eventually, falling asleep. No stumbling over each other in the passionate heat of a drunken sexual escapade. Just our feet in socks, walking from the living room to the bedroom, climbing in next to each other and assuming our sleeping positions; like we had done it a million nights before, like there were a million more nights to come.

It was comfortable, I decided.

Almost too much so, I realized.

It was all I could do to not ask whose side of the bed I was sleeping on that night.

It is still all I can do, not to ask.

[divider] [/divider]About Caroline Moss

For reasons unknown, on the walls of Caroline’s former elementary school is a framed photo of the newspaper article she wrote in 1994. “The Storm” was three sentences long and the feature of that month’s issue (the paper itself only ran for 3 months). The story marks the start of a lifelong affair with writing, riddled with “college” and “other majors” and “jobs in finance” and “I should be making more money, probably”. But they always say you come back to your first love. Close behind are pickles, musical theater, and flying on planes. Caroline can be found all over the internet, but most notably tweeting over at @YourAwayMessage, which might be a real live actual book soon, so stay tuned! Caroline lives in New York City and has no tattoos but would eventually like one, “if she can ever learn to commit.” Tweet her @socarolinesays

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