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There is no easy way to say it. I was married to someone I hid from. Tucking E into a sling, I would disappear for hours saying I was going shopping for dinner, and if she fell asleep the excuse was that she needed fresh air as I sat on a park bench with her tiny hand grabbing my pinky until she eventually woke up. I would make my way along the side streets of Greenwich as the sun went down, leaning into store windows but not going in. Eventually I would go home, and as I turned the corner there was a security light that would switch on - obviously attached to some motion sensor. In those strange and lonely moments, I would talk to that light. Each time it clicked on, I felt somehow that the night ahead could be survived no matter what madness waited for us behind the front door.

That was twelve years ago.

Another life, another country.

Today, I turned a corner in Moscow with an all-too familiar bag of groceries swinging from my shoulder. A street light flickered on and all at once I…

about Carl

Carl is the main character in "Divorce in the Afternoon." He is not me, not by a long shot. He is a messy, overlapped Xerox of three men I know. I just fill in the gaps with my own odd experiences when I get lost in the story, like the time I was on a long flight sitting next to a nun. I am Carl the way all of us are Carl, or have been caught in some broken, confused, embarrassing stretch of time. Writing about a common act is a real challenge, because everyone already knows so much (or at least think they do). Who has not been touched by divorce, or witnessed one up close? They are as common as root canals.

I found my way back to this story yesterday, somehow at the little white desk, in the folding white chair as children played downstairs, as a cup of tea grew cold next to my hand. The fountain pen scratches on the empty page. I am just listening. The ink is bright and blue. The story, dark and sad. How can a man be so naive, so far into his life? Is he really such a fool, or does he know deep down what might happen at any time, what phone can ring, what voice at the other side with measured words and then the click of the receiver?

That is what I ask myself, sitting at this little desk in Moscow.


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