1. A beginning can be everything, all you have to go on. Even if you realize witnesses would agree Nothing Happened. But no one else saw what I did, the first time I ever saw him, beneath the sidewalk staging that protected passersby from the slow renovation of the building. A thick gray hose snaked across the pavement where the latest workers had dropped it, right in our path. With a gallant half-bow, the bearded man in the bright yellow waterproof seized one loop and smartly whipped the whole thing aside, like a seasoned cowboy with a lariat. It was a fine, grand gesture. I smiled, an appreciative stranger's small smile.

    His own smudged face was radiant: he was looking at me as if. . . I don't know, as if he had been waiting for me forever. I can't remember the last time I found a man's eyes full of such light. My light.

    But I didn't feel my chest constrict, my heartbeat quicken, until I'd pushed Julia's stroller along a few yards. A half-forgotten kind of thrill sizzled my br...

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