Had to take an apartment on the high end of my price range.

Had to pay for a U-Haul for the second time in two months.

Had to buy new furniture to replace the stuff that had become redundant and thus been discarded—Gui already had nicer versions of my things: sofa, mattress, Danish-look kitchen table. We’d kept my dresser, because the leg on his was broken, and my bedside table, because he only had the one, but other than that, pretty much everything we’d kept was his.

The breakup came just after we’d gone to Linfield for Mom’s birthday.

For weeks beforehand, I’d debated whether to warn Gui what to expect.

For example, the Beverly Hillbillies–style junkyard that was our front lawn. Or Mom’s Museum to Our Childhood, as me and my brothers called the house itself. The baked goods my mother would pile up around the kitchen the whole time we were there, often with a frosting so thick and sweet it made non-Wrights cough as they ate, or the fact that our garage was riddled with things like once-used duct tape Dad was sure he could repurpose. Or that we’d be expected to play a days-spanning board game we’d invented as kids based on Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

That my parents had recently adopted three senior cats, one of whom was incontinent to the point of having to wear a diaper.

Or that there was a decent chance he’d hear my parents having sex, because our house had thin walls, and as previously stated, the Wrights are a loud clan.

Or that there’d be a New Talent Show at the end of the weekend, where everyone was expected to perform some new feat they’d only started learning at the start of the visit.

(Last time I’d been home, Prince’s talent had been having us call out the name of any movie and trying to connect it back to Keanu Reeves within six degrees.)

So I should’ve warned Guillermo what he was walking into, definitely, but doing so would’ve felt like treason. Like I was saying there was something wrong with them. And sure, they were loud and messy, but they were also amazing and kind and funny, and I hated myself for even considering being embarrassed by them.

Gui would love them, I told myself. Gui loved me, and these were the people who’d made me.

At the end of our first night there, we shut ourselves into my childhood bedroom and he said, “I think I understand you better now than ever before.”

His voice was as tender and warm as ever, but instead of love, it sounded like sympathy.

“I get why you had to flee to New York,” he said. “It must’ve been so hard for you here.”

My stomach sunk and my heart squeezed painfully, but I didn’t correct him. Again, I just hated myself for being embarrassed.

Because I had fled to New York, but I hadn’t fled my family, and if I’d kept them separate from the rest of my life, it was only to protect them from judgment, and myself from this familiar feeling of rejection.

The rest of the trip was uncomfortable. Gui was kind to my family—he was always kind—but I saw every interaction they had through a lens of condescension and pity after that.

I tried to forget the trip had happened. We were happy together, in our real life, in New York. So what if he didn’t understand my family? He loved me.

A few weeks later, we went to a dinner party at his friend’s brownstone, someone he’d known from boarding school, a guy with a trust fund and a Damien Hirst painting hanging over the dining room table. I knew this—would never forget it—because when someone said the name, unrelated to the painting, I said, “Who?” and laughter followed.

They weren’t laughing at me; they genuinely thought I was making a joke.

Four days after that, Guillermo ended our relationship. “We’re just too different,” he said. “We got swept up in our chemistry, but long term, we want different things.”

I’m not saying he dumped me for not knowing who Damien Hirst was. But I’m not not saying that either.

When I moved out of the apartment, I stole one of his fancy cooking knives.

I could’ve taken them all, but my mild form of revenge was imagining him looking everywhere for it, trying to figure out if he took it with him to a dinner party or it fell into the gap between his enormous refrigerator and the kitchen island.

Frankly, I wanted the knife to haunt him.

Not in a My-Ex-Is-Going-to-Go-All-Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction way, but in a Something-About-This-Missing-Knife-Seems-to-Be-Conjuring-a-Strong-Metaphor-and-I-Can’t-Figure-Out-What-It’s-Saying way.

I started feeling guilty after a week in my new apartment—once the sobbing wore off—and considered mailing the knife back but thought that might send the wrong message. I imagined Gui showing up to the police department with the package, and decided I’d just let him buy a new knife.

I thought about selling the stolen one online, and worried the anonymous buyer would turn out to be him, so I just kept it and resumed my sobbing until I was done threeish weeks later.

The point is, breakups suck. Breakups between cohabitating partners in overpriced cities suck a little extra, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford a summer trip this year.

And then there was the matter of Sarah Torval.

Adorable, willowy yet athletic, clean-faced, brown-eyeliner-wearing Sarah Torval.

Who Alex has been seriously dating for nine months. After their first chance encounter when Alex was visiting friends in Chicago, their texting had quickly evolved into phone calls, and then another visit. After that they’d gotten serious fast, and after six months long distance, she’d taken a teaching job and moved to Indiana to be with him while he finished his MFA. She’s happy to stay there while he works toward his doctorate, and will probably follow him wherever he lands afterward.

Which would make me happy if not for my increasing suspicion that she hates me.

Whenever she posts pictures of herself holding Alex’s brand-new baby niece with captions like family time, or this little love bug, I like the post and comment, but she refuses to follow me back. I even unfollowed and refollowed her once, in case she hadn’t noticed me the first time.