STORY 2, Part 2

Everything went on just as before; seasons passed.

My job at the Hyatt graduated to full time--this got me in the range of 130 years old for retirement. I settled into a routine--so I almost didn't notice the subtle changes inside. I met a man at the coffee shop and started dating him. My remaining friends (after a divorce, these good ones quickly sort themselves out from the couple-acquaintances) said he was a perfect catch. He was single; he was a gentleman; he baked bread; he had a job; he offered a respite from loneliness. He wanted to rescue me. And that was the sticking point. I wanted things to be different, but rescued wasn't it. He saw me as a victim, the victim. And the worst of it was that he did not see me as a natural casualty of a smashed marriage--rather, he thought of me as the potential prey of all the scheming men at the Hyatt. He didn't want to protect me, he wanted to protect my virginity.

Or something. Another thing started to happen. My condo became the Welcome Inn for my children on the way to visit their father. They would arrive frazzled from travel. Of course I was glad to see them, feed them, give them a little money, wash their clothes. But, then, when it was time to play, off they would go to the real destination: his house at the beach, his ski lodge. I began to feel like some kind of oriental second wife, banished to the servants' quarters.