He brought her stories, long and intricate narratives that he laid at her feet like a dog with a bone. She would have preferred love, or at least more of his wild, open-hearted sex, but that was complicated; after all, she lived in another time zone now, and the divorce, far beyond messy, had left him in debt. For weeks, he’d camped out in his friend’s van—demoralizing for a middle-aged man. He had an apartment on the third floor in what she knew was a rough neighborhood, backing up against the desert. He had a son also, and that’s where his energy needed to go. Stories were what he could manage for her.
So she took them, uncomplainingly, suspecting that one day they would fade away too. It is what it is what it is, she reminded herself. And sometimes she told herself it was best this way, that her own life was nowhere near as chaotic as his, was in fact relatively serene, and that’s how she liked it.
He was a drummer, and he worked as many gigs as possible to try to stabilize his finances. He worked most every day, and twice some days, gigs that lasted four hours or more. He was constantly setting up his drum kit, taking it down. Mainly at bars, sometimes for private parties. Gig seemed to her a strange word for a grown-up to use in place of job. She worked these days as a curator at a smallish art museum in an eastern city, arranging exhibits and sometimes giving lectures. She specialized in abstract expressionism; she’d written two books on the topic.