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Essay: Falling Out of Love

It was a bad time to fall out of love. For one thing, my husband and I were on vacation. For another, we were trapped in one small room of a bed and breakfast in Mallaig, Scotland, a room already crowded with furniture and figurines.

Mallaig was a fishing village across from the Isle of Skye, where we were headed the following day. “Isle of Skye” had sounded like a romantic destination until I found out that “skye” didn’t mean a vast expanse of blue overhead but was a Gaelic word for “mist.”

“How fitting,” I thought bitterly, feeling tired of trying to see my way clear. To make myself clear. The argument was a familiar one, about calling ahead for reservations. I wanted to call and know; Dick wanted to wait and see.

Sitting in a local pub, we drained our pints of dark Scottish ale and declared the relationship hopeless. I wondered if I had the energy to start over with someone new. Start over without any history. As if that were possible.

We ate breakfast in a sunny dining room overlooking the harbor. “It’s not about reservations,” I said finally. “It’s about feeling safe.” Growing up in a chaotic home—too much anger and alcohol—I sometimes wanted a comfort zone more than an adventure. To take refuge instead of taking risks.

Dick nodded. He knew. We’d been over this ground before, although the place names were different. We held hands on the ferry and watched the island come toward us out of the mist.