I walked into the bar and she was playing pool with some guy I didn’t know and who said nothing for the ten minutes we talked. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months. We stepped to the side while he played around us, a regular clicking of the balls. She was probably already sleeping with him. But it didn’t matter much because I was already sleeping with someone else. No need to talk about those things. Best to let people believe what they want to believe. She said we should get together. I suggested she come to my place. Her friend called her over. They huddled. I pretended to study the felt of the table. She came back and said she was going to go drop him off then swing by my place. I raced home to change the sheets. It lasted for a few months after that and she went back to her friend and I went back to mine.
A year later, I was getting ready to move out of the state. My new lover, who hated my coming and going out of bed with her, helped me pack. On a break, we went to the store and on our way back a familiar car drove past. She circled around one more time. I didn’t tell my new lover about it. No need to talk about those things. Best to let people believe what they want to believe. Besides, I was leaving the new lover behind, along with the rest of the things I didn’t want to take with me. A couple of days later I was 500 miles away eating dinner when she called. She told me she had seen me walking with this other woman and that her heart had kicked in her chest. She held out as long as she could but had to talk to me. We talked on the phone for a few days in a row and a few days after that we split the difference in miles and met half way between our two cities. It lasted for a few months. I don’t know whom she went back to, but I went back to living alone.
Another year or so went by. I hadn’t heard from her in ages. Then out of the blue she sent me an incomprehensible text. I read it and set it aside. That weekend the new woman I was seeing broke it off with me. I returned to the text. I answered it out of spite for the new woman. She answered it. We stared up once again. We didn’t talk much about whom we had been with since the last time we were together. No need to talk about those things. Best to let people believe what they want to believe. We had loved each other badly. And that love and desire and craziness had lasted for a long time, even as we moved between different beds and different lovers. But this time, after a couple of months, it was almost all over. We broke up one last time, with little drama and only a little heartache.
I love Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”, but the part I don’t understand is when she sings: “I’m giving you up/ I’ve forgiven it all/ You set me free.” I don’t understand the agency of it, the willfulness. I didn’t give her up and she didn’t set me free. One day it was over and that was that.