I’m going to sign a separation agreement with my husband tomorrow. There’s a drab little form that I found online; he downloaded it for $68 and will punch in the material details of our lives in the morning. We’ll take it to a notary on 31st St, and I’ll carry a copy on a plane to London next week.

The form doesn’t say anything about an 18-year-old heart speeding up at the sight of a boy with tobacco-brown eyes. It seems to be missing the section on best friends huddling under four sweaters each and a duvet as they watch TV and drink red wine in a freezing college house in Dublin. No space for notes on two wobbly, handholding RollerBladers ending up in a sprawl of elbows and skinned knees. There’s no worksheet for dividing up mistakes, but nor do we get line-item deductions on in-jokes and joy.

Maya Angelou described coming home after her husband left their house for the last time to find that he had left her favorite meal warm in the oven—roast chicken and new bread, with a bottle of wine on the table. I would like to do the same for Jason, my J. But instead I tell him not to wear that new rice-pudding-colored shirt on dates. It doesn’t do him justice either.

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