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  • A week after graduation, I married my college boyfriend. We spent the summer living in a decaying mansion on the edge of campus. A raccoon the size of a microwave would sit on the fire escape and stare at us while we slept. Some nights I'd wake up and see his eyes gleaming in the dark, and I really couldn't tell what side of the screen he was on.

    During the day, I learned Photoshop. My new husband was the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, and we spent the summer creating a masterpiece out of a dying form. Our book had a hide-and-seek game, a continuous line of creative fiction that ran along the bottom of each page, and an interactive CD-rom.

    Sometimes we cooked in the mansion, but often we ate at the campus cafeteria. One afternoon, I bought an avocado, and took it back to the office. They don't sell whole avocados anymore. I ate it with some salt and a spoon. And then, because I had never actually done this myself before, I stuck the pit with three toothpicks, and set it on top of a mason jar full of water in the window sill.

    He left me with the house (not the mansion), the car, and a healthy six-foot tall avocado tree in a pot.

    A few months after, I was out picking tomatoes, thinking about the next creative genius who had just appeared in my life. As I reached for a handful of little sunshine orange tomatoes, I saw it: an avocado sprouting right out of the compost I'd forked into the beds, already a foot tall! At the end of the season, I put the new tree in a pot too. (Avocados don't like midwest winters, so they have to come inside.) That relationship didn't last either, but the tree did. This one hasn't formed branches yet, though it's now almost three feet tall. Its leaves are much bigger and a bit darker than the first one's. It also has a bit of an attitude. This little one gets sort of dramatic and pouty, flopping all its leaves down against the trunk if it's a slight bit thirsty. But a little drink, and it acts like nothing ever happened.

    The next summer, I reconnected with a college friend who I hadn't seen in a long time. We started talking a lot, and sure enough, I'm on the phone with him, standing in the garden, and there's another avocado sprout. Turns out this guy was jerking my chain a little bit, and had no real interest in a relationship. I brought that sprout in the house too, but all the leaves fell off.

    Some days I tell myself I'm not dating right now because I don't have room for any more trees in my bathroom.
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