A long time ago I dated a man whose ex-girlfriend used to leave messages on his car. Once she etched the word ABANDONED in the dust on the hood. He wiped it off with a paper towel. Another morning there was something tucked under the windshield wiper. I thought it was a note, but as I got closer I saw that it was hair: a skein of long brown hair, coiled into a ball. "What does it mean?" I asked. "It's a forget-me-not," he said, tossing the hair in the trash.
And I couldn’t forget it. It was a surrogate for the poor woman's broken heart, tangled and confused. If grief were an object, I thought, that's what it would be. Our relationship was already doomed by that point, but it took me a good while longer to figure out that any man who could break another woman's heart so badly wasn't the man for me.