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One night, I had plans to hang out with Curly B, a new friend of mine who had curly blonde hair and a shared love for “Heathers” (both the musical and the movie, of course—though he prefers the musical, while I prefer the movie. You can’t beat classic Winona Ryder.)

He came over to my apartment, DVD in hand, and we watched it while drinking coconut rum and talking about New York—he only had a month before he was leaving to finish college.

“I’ll miss so many things,” he told me, “24-hour bodegas, real clubs, random rooftop parties.” He took out his phone, showing me a photo. “Isn’t this rooftop gorgeous?”

The photo was him, on a rooftop, standing next to The Ex Fiancé.

I remembered that night: the Fourth of July, during one of our are-we-or-aren’t-we dating periods. The fireworks went off, we both drank a little too much, we fought about God-remembers-what. I do remember that I left early, telling him, “We don’t need to argue here in front of your friends. Everything is fine—we can talk about this tomorrow.” We did, and we decided to start officially dating again.

But that was the past, and now we were broken up—again. Why did the universe keep bringing him up? Why couldn’t it just let me do me?

“I think I know him,” I mumbled.

“He’s the one who invited me to the party—I was just passing by the area, and he messaged me on Grindr.” So after I left that party, he went straight to Grindr.

“Was he any good?” I asked, as straight-faced as I could.

“Hm,” he said, raising his eyebrows. I couldn’t tell what that meant.

Jealousy overcame me: I leaned forward and kissed him. “I didn’t know you liked me like that,” he said.

We tore off each other’s clothes, he got onto his knees, and we had sex. Passionate, sweaty, bed-hitting-the-wall sex. (I’m lucky my roommate was out that night.) By the time we finished it was past 1 a.m., and I convinced him to sleep over.

Around 2 or 3 a.m., with Curly B asleep at my side, I was wide awake. I didn’t feel empowered, or like I’d gotten revenge. I just felt sad.

Aimee Mann has a song I love called “Fourth of July.” “So that’s today’s memory lane, with all the pathos and pain. Another chapter in a book where the chapters are endless and they’re always the same … a verse and a verse and refrain.”

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