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  • I had played ping pong with Ana's father until 1 am in the front room of her childhood home in New Rochelle, New York, where her 2 siblings and she had grown up, and where, before that, nuns had lived. This was what one did because after drinking too much wine, what else is there to do. And I watched as he told stories about eyeballing shots of vodka while at a Bon Jovi concert, or trying to drive in Italy with his girlfriend Rose. I still knew where the spare key was hidden under a rock on top of the small, ornamental wall running beside the driveway behind the 3-story house. And yet now, standing in our dining room, she was telling me that she did not love me.

    I had seen her mother and grandmother moved to tears over a youtube audio file of the last broadcast of some radio station from the 1960's, listened to over a second (or possibly third) bottle of wine while sitting on a musty back porch of a home in Tallahassee, Florida. Or watched video footage from Ana's high school performances and rehearsals during the same visit. And now she said that she did not love me.

    I had gotten her discharged out of a hospital in New Orleans by simple persistence and charm when she had been admitted for alcohol poisoning. The only documentation I had to connect the two of us was the fact that our Texas driver's licenses had the same address. At this point, it was maybe 4 am. It had started simply enough. We had gone to New Orleans to run a half marathon, and then that evening went out to Bourbon street to watch the super bowl between Denver and Seattle. Before halftime it was obvious where the game was headed. And after the fourth drink, it was obvious where we were as well. When we were asked to leave a second bar because Ana was trying to spank the waitress on the ass, we began the stagger back to the hotel. Only she didn't make it. She decided instead to lay down in the street, mumbling something about giving in to the darkness. That was when the cop appeared. And so, 5 hours and 2 taxis later, I was wheeling her out of Lakeside Hospital and putting her into cab #3. At the hotel later it took me and the cabby to pull her out of the back seat. I riped her jeans because I was tugging from a beltloop. The next morning as I ate breakfast, she tried to sleep it off in the hotel room. All I could think of, sitting there at the breakfast buffet, was how I would enjoy the day driving back to San Antonio with her. She sat almost motionless in the passenger seat as I watched miles roll behind us.

    Now, she was standing in front of me 3 months later almost to the day telling me that in fact maybe she had never loved me, or had in fact only needed someone to help her transition from her boyfriend that she had followed down her from New York, the boyfriend who left her after my ex-wife had told him that one of the reasons for the divorce was that Ana and I were having an affair. And yes, all of that made it very easy for us to spend first a weekend in a hotel, and then 4 days in a duplex we quickly rented even before the electric could be turned on. Those days living by candlelight seemed romantic still, even with what was happening to me, but standing there, all I could think of was how fitting it was that Ana did not even have a middle name.
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