[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

Shortly after leaving my first husband, I became involved with a man I met on New Year’s Eve at a masked costume ball. I was twenty-nine, he was thirty-six, and we were together from Friday evening until late Sunday afternoon all the following year, except for two summer weeks he spent with his parents in Illinois. There was never a question of marriage. I was not divorced until halfway through that year and certainly unready to contemplate remarrying. He had already been married twice, had three children by his first wife and barely enough salary left after monthly alimony and child support payments to scrape by in a single room at a residential hotel off Fifth Avenue. Yet I never regretted that year. He put me back on my feet and gave me a better opinion of myself.

One evening as we were about to make love in his single room, he said something that disappointed me.  I was hoping for the conventional language of romance. Only later, when we’d drifted apart, did I realize what he had said was better than that: “I’d like to fill you up with babies.”

The last time I saw him was two years ago, when we had lunch. He was nearly ninety; I recognized him only by his height. I had looked him up because of those words. He no longer remembers them. It doesn’t matter. He gave them to me, and now they’re mine forever.