Breaking up is hard to do, but getting into a new relationship is a lot, lot harder.

So fifteen years ago I started talking to this guy called T.D. Riverly. He used to come into the library I babysat late at night, and I got to know him. Sort of. I knew about his main traumas, and what it was like to be him. We stayed in touch during the seven-year hiatus between At Harvard I and At Harvard II, and during the end of my dissertation, we started getting closer.

Finally, he watched over my shoulder as two crazy kids ran away from a crossbow-wielding mob, and he stepped out of his office and said, “Babe, we gotta get serious.” I humored him for old times’ sake. Then he started telling me his real story, all the stuff I didn’t know. About what power and fame had done to him.

And about the vampire part. I hadn’t seen that one coming. But he told me all about it, how it worked and what it was like to be ass-deep in truly whacked crazy. Then he brought me home with him to the District of Nova Terra, and introduced me to Sasha, and Meeze, and Pharaoh. Terry and I were serious.

He was my man for five of the rockiest years of my life. Five long, solid years. We grew, we changed. Two years ago, I had an idle convo with a guy named Damascus, who was a completely peripheral pain in Terry’s ass, because I wanted to make some peace. And then he rocked both our worlds in a shattering way that recontextualized a lot of what we had built with each other. (“So, Damascus, where’d you grow up?” I swear that’s all I asked. Who knew serial killers were human? Not me.)

But now it’s over.

Terry and I are adults, and we realized that things would eventually change, and then that our relationship was nearing a point when we needed some space. Just space; not even a separation. This scared me, but I’m proud to say that I didn’t do what so many do in my place, and wrap myself around his waist and refuse to let go.

I cheated on Terry about a year ago, and I met this amazing guy called Max. In one short evening, we had one of those oh-wows that made him a part of my life–and then I went back to my babe and thought that that was it. But he called me up last summer, and I would sneak off to see him every so often as a break from the rockier pieces of my –oh OK breakup– with Terry.

Terry and I are at a good place, where he’s packing up and fishing out the stray socks from under the dresser, and we know that we’ll always be friends–and maybe something more. But . . . space—and meanwhile, that means that here I am with Max now, trying to figure out who we are and where we’re going. He’s no longer the sweet piece on the side, and I have to take everything seriously now. Scary. So scary.

It’s just that Terry and I were so close–unbelievably close. And Max and I are still at the sitting around stage where I feel like we’re Aristotle’s bear cub, which would emerge as a shapeless lump and be licked into shape by his mother. (Aristotle also thought flies had four legs. I swear to God we’re talking psychosis here.)

The differences between the two relationships fascinates me. I don’t know the people in Max’s life at all well, although we’ve spent some time just hanging out–which is, after all, how I met Damascus–and I’m SO the new chick here. There are all these strange people, and they’re all about their stuff, new stuff, taking me on a totally new journey. Stretching me, insisting that I become as good a partner as I became to Terry.

After five years, I have to start again.

Oh, sheep.