I keep my keys; where I can watch the guy across the street mow his lawn shirtless; where I learned my niece was having her fourth child; where you can find Gary’s dogeared, underlined, and deeply annotated copy of “The Federalist No. 10,” written by James Madison on November 22, 1787; where I watch Real Housewives of New York on the DVR; where I have cried on the phone more often than in any other room of the house; where I listen to that Lizzo album at least once a day; where I store the trophy Tria and I won for Duet Shakespeare Reading junior year of high school; where I emailed Gary’s brother a photo of Gary in front of Saint Catherine’s Palace outside Saint Petersburg, Russia, fulfilling a dream he had since they first watched Nicholas and Alexandra in the seventies; where I read Sylvia Plath out loud all last summer, taking notes for the following semester’s teaching; where I masturbated on cam with that guy from Toronto who was into rubber porn; where I (try to) to check my blood pressure every day; where we stared at CNN the night of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, having just returned home from some movie I no longer remember; where I filmed YouTube videos unpacking monthly subscription boxes of kawaii trinkets from Japan; where we had that insipid fight about the credit card; where our PhDs hang, framed together, side-by-side; where I perused ads for older, muscular gay male escorts in New York, City; where I watched Clerks for the first time since Gary and I saw it at the artsy theater back in Ohio the first year we were dating; where some married guy I met on Scruff told me, after the sex was over, I would be cute if I went to the gym; where my husband, Gary, died. Come in.


Nels P. Highberg is a Professor of English and Modern Languages at the University of Hartford. The recipient of an Artistic Excellence Award from the State of Connecticut in 2020, his work has been published in DuendeIntima: A Journal of Narrative MedicineAfter the Art and A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays, where this essay also appears. He is @drnels on Twitter and @virgoprof on Instagram.

Photo by Dinty W. Moore