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Ours or the Other Place Anna Monardo NewYork is like a guy who doesn't like you as much as you Uke him. You know it's time to let this crush go. It's been too long with no phone calls, nothing. And stiU, you arrange your days and evenings so you'U be there for his caU if it ever comes. The phone rings differendy when it's him. It's a better ring. One day, you admit to yourself that this romance lives nowhere but in your own head. You admit to the hard work of keeping it aUve. You ask yourself, finaUy, Why am I doing this? Because there was that one heightened bit of time when he made you feel like someone grander than yourself, some better version ofyourself— freer, happier, funnier, smarter, more beautiful, wiser, more worldly, kinder, braver. Only a passing glance can have this intensity, this jumped-up pulse. Afterward, you are addicted—not to him, but to the enhanced vision of yourself. It's Uke crack, a fast and soUd addiction. You need this person so you can feel that way again. Nothing matters but to feel that way again.Your whole being is in need of this person.Your bones feel the need for him and the absence of him. NewYork is like that. It was 1977 and I was twenty-one years old. I thanked God when I arrived in NewYork. I had flown just one hour from Pittsburgh, but I was as grateful as an immigrant, as relieved as a refugee who has finaUy escaped. I don't mean to equate the enormity of exüe with the comparative ease of my departure from suburbia, but I can't Ue about this: landing in NewYork felt as lucky to me and as monumental as it must have felt for anyone who ever saüed into EIUs Island. In leaving my famüy's home, I was an anarchist. 8 Fourth Genre Our women had never Uved in this place I was going to. For my ItaUan grandmothers, my mother, my aunts, a Ufe between the home of the father and the home of the husband had never existed. But now it did exist. At last, I was in the right place. The city was completely new to me but felt completely known. I can put it no other way but to say that I was happy in my skin. A few years later, working a book-publishingjob, I glanced through the glass waU ofan office and got a gUmpse, two rooms down, of a man—taU and large, dark-haired, in a heavy overcoat. I did a double take. He was stunning in a roughed-up sort of way I had never known I was attracted to. But now I was. He startled me. Who is that? I'd never seen him before but I felt that premonition offamiliarity, the beginning ofloyalty. Ijust knew that this man and I would have some kind of business together. (EventuaUy, of course, we did. It was with him, one of my first close friends in the city, that I learned about the particular sexiness of talking late into the night, in the booth of a bar or at the tiny table ofa coffee house, working your way toward the possibüity of lovemaking. Then veering right past it, just so you can keep on talking. Here's the magic trick: Ifyou keep talking past sex, the possibüity ofit stays there between you, around you, Uke the aroma ofa meal that is almost ready to be served, but not quite. Our times together were deUcious because we never did become lovers, which was of course what I'd had in mind the first time I saw him through the glass and my breath caught.) Flying into New York in September of '77 I looked through the double-paned window of the USAir jet, down into a misty Friday morning, and I felt that same astonishing tug. I had just left my famüy and my coUege boyfriend, who, the day before, had sent me roses, and my mother, in a last...


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