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Her uncle worked for the company that took over food services at the university. I think about this as I work through the minuscule package of hummus that somehow cost me five dollars. They all seemed connected to evil in some way, intimately connected in a way they could not be extricated from, but a mundane evil that allowed them to have clear consciences when they went on their ski vacations or when they travelled together to diverse locales (like a flock of geese waddling from one expensive restaurant to another, consuming everything laid before them)… 

When I met her in Paris she expressed discontent at her job, or maybe it was only indirect discontent. She said she could not do the job the same way that she had before, that something no longer worked in relationship to the job. I thought at the time that it was the effect of a new hire, a Machiavellian hire, a supervisor who was an undermining person who made it his mission to slough off responsibility on her (she’d been at the company much longer than he had), as if he was a duck with waxed feathers, even though he was hired principally to “show her the ropes” or more appropriately “onboard her to industry standards.” And maybe it was partially or even wholly this man, who lived in the suburbs and had no issues operating as if he had emerged from a previous century, demonstrating the existential pointlessness of office politics and white collar work… 

But I thought also it was the effect of dating me, not only because of the way I had left her (maybe suddenly, like a collapsing house of cards) but because I was undermining, somehow fundamentally, through my cynicism, my social complaints… 

When she mentioned her bosses, who ran the business like it was a toy and frequently left their employees to go on long vacations in the Caribbean; or her clients, who were for the most part spoiled trust-fund brats with a single idea, or real-estate administrators with somehow even less than that, it was hard not to say “fuck them”… 

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If we’d stayed together I would have gone on one of those trips with her family, joined their flock of seagulls, would have landed with them on the rooftop of a decaying hotel in Detroit, drank the wine and eaten the pasta with shrimp swimming in butter sauce. They often advised their children not to expect anything when they died because their plan was to spend it all, which seems like an apt metaphor for a well-meaning but feckless generation… 

It was a surprise later to discover when I criticized her bosses that she thought I was devaluing her, but I realize how that might have been, though I did not include her, though I acknowledged my own complicity at every turn and was perhaps always denouncing that part of myself… 

Their children were fine—precarious as anyone in the middle-to-upper-middle class but better off than almost everyone else in their generation except the trust-fund kids they went to high school with… 

Why am I writing this out? I feel unresolved tonight, probably some part of it is the heat, but another part is that I think about this often, that I have sometimes been resistant to interrogate it, sometimes too close, content with whatever pat conclusion I’ve come to in the minutes between responding to anyone’s text message: we had incompatible ideals; I need to believe in the work of my partner. The truth is that I believed in her soul, saw it as a vast and sensitive and bottomless, tender (I want to say even wet, like it was an immense body of water), believed in it inherently and in its potential but still gave up on it, or turned my back on it, for reasons I don’t totally understand, seeming to happen all too quickly, but which seemed to boil down to: I could not change her relationship to this part of her. I could not reside in the home she had made alongside of this vast body, facing away from the water that was what attracted me to her most of all. 

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