I was in a relationship during my junior year of college and it wasn’t very healthy. I was always his subordinate. He controlled every aspect of the relationship. I gave him so much of myself — physically and emotionally. I knew that he was only with me because his girlfriend was abroad. When he broke up with me, I had no idea what to do with myself.

I hit a tipping point when I literally went into a staircase and just screamed because I felt there was no where else in the city I could do that.

Around this time, I started going to The Strand alone. The bookstore became my refuge. I could read how others have experienced the same emotions. The shop can be swarming with people, yet I can still find a quiet corner to absorb my surroundings. I was alone, but not.

I’d go during high traffic times, around 8 p.m., when people were just getting off work and looking for a book to read. I’d find a cramped corner and all of a sudden, it would be silent and I’d forget where I was.

I was in the poetry section one night and something falls out of one of the old books I was reading. It was a thank you card, with a poem written inside, dated from June 1983. It was signed, “with lots of love, Jim and Mary.”

The card might have been addressed to someone else, but it felt like it was given just to me. I took the note home with me, and I still have it.

That day, I remembered that I’m not alone.

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