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Ashley's in England again. While he's gone, I make messes that I don't clean up and I sleep in the middle of the bed. Because it is my habit to clean for arriving guests, I always make the house spotless for his return. Surely he assumes it's been that way the whole time he was gone, and he burdens himself with the guilt that his big suitcase in the kitchen and his piles of mail and newspapers in the hall darken the joy of his return.

While he's gone, our lives become extraordinarily precarious and fragile. I ponder the danger of two transatlantic flights: ok, so he survived the *last* two, and the ones before that, and I survived a number as well. So our luck has to run out, right? And did the folks and loved ones on TWA 800 think their luck would run out?

Meanwhile here in San Francisco, I ponder my own chances of surviving to his return. I read in the paper of a pair of twins conjoined from breast to hip, who were separated successfully yesterday, and the doctors announced that each twin now has an estimated 85% chance of surviving the next day. You know, 85% is pretty *good*. I'm thinking the rest of us only have like a 99% chance of surviving the next day, if we live in a safe neighborhood and maintain a fairly defensive stance toward MUNI buses. But considering how sometimes that silent, insidious 1% can just pop up when you least expect it; and throw air travel and urban traffic into the equation, and it seems very unlikely we'll ever see each other again.

I try to go on, regardless... but chances are, the very fact that only while he's gone do I make messes I don't clean up indicates how very little hope I have. In the end nihilism takes hold, and though I clean for his arrival, I never completely believe in it.

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