several weeks ago, my ex-wife texted asking for my address. she didn’t say why she wanted it, but i knew why because i know her. i texted her my address and a week later an envelope in her handwriting arrived in my mailbox. the envelope sat unopened on my counter for a couple days, waiting for me to decide what to do. i debated sending the unopened letter to the poetess to hold for safekeeping until i was ready to see its contents because the poetess and i have a tradition of holding onto things for each other when we need that support. but in an impulsive moment fueled by diet coke and dark chocolate and fake courage, i opened the envelope. i pulled out the collage photo card of her boys and her family. i studied the boys’ faces. i looked for their joy, fear, love, and pain. i stared at my ex-wife’s smile in the photo she long-arm-camera-clicked of her family. i tried to discern the sameness in her i’ve known since we were 14 years old and the difference that five and a half years of not seeing each other has brought. i avoided looking at her husband. i left the photo collage on the kitchen counter for a few days, picking it up to search those faces and hope for their happiness, but always averting my eyes from her husband. needing to take an action because the photo collage couldn’t remain on the kitchen counter forever, i considered my options. i opened the junk drawer, pulled out scissors, cut the husband out of the photo, and put the husband-less collage on the fridge. i smiled. my heart smiled, my face smiled, my ovaries smiled. i tried to feel guilty for cutting him out, but i couldn’t. i can’t. i love looking at those photos on my fridge each day. if i hadn’t cut out the husband, i wouldn’t be able to enjoy the photos. if i hadn’t cut out the husband, i wouldn’t have been able to put the collage on my fridge. because i know her, i believe my ex-wife would prefer that i cut out her husband and put the collage on the fridge than leave the photo uncut and stuck in a drawer. i would have preferred she cut him out years ago so that i could’ve stayed, but she didn’t, and now these are the compromises we make.