Four ways to deal with the leftovers when a relationship ends
Three days after my boyfriend left me, I discovered a closetful of his clothes. I thought of what I’d done in the past (bundling them up and sending them, COD; distributing them to my friends) even as I already had the scissors in hand and was cutting his shirts and a pair of pants into teeny pieces. When there was nothing left of his ghost except a large pile of cloth, I decided to learn how to quilt.—Anne Elizabeth Moore
When my boyfriend and I split up, I wrapped all his things in garbage bags and put them in the yard. I couldn’t stand to have any reminders of him around. One of the reasons we broke up was because he was a big flake on my birthday (I won’t go into the whole story) and gave me a plant as a present. A plant. It was one of the first things I put outside and left to die. I never watered it, shoved it behind some patio furniture, and forgot about it. Now, two years later, the thing is five feet tall. It just keeps growing, even without any attention from me. There is symbolism in there somewhere.—Robyn Forest
David and I stopped speaking to each other a year ago. It’s awkward and hard to think about him now. Last week, I found his green silk boxers in an old trunk of mine. I think I'll leave them there.—Vicki Larson
Keys. I must have three or four sets of keys from past girlfriends’ apartments sitting in this little ceramic bowl on my kitchen table. Although I'll never use these keys (in at least one case I’d be shot if my shadow even darkened her doorway), I can’t bear to throw them out. All the keys are jumbled up at the bottom of this bowl. Even if I wanted to return them or use them, I couldn’t. They’re my keys—my memories—now.—Stephen Duncombe
From Stay Free! (Fall-Winter 1999). Subscriptions: $19 (3 issues/3 years) from Box 306, Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012; www.stayfreemagazine.org.