Reflections on Identity

Love, Loss and the Places I Once Called Home

Grieving the past and future while trying to find peace in the present, midlife and after divorce

Laura Friedman Williams
11 min readMay 31, 2022

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Photo by MAX BEDENDI on Unsplash

It is one thing to move out of a home you love, another thing entirely to watch a home gradually become not yours anymore. I know this because I’ve experienced both in the past year.

My husband and I moved frequently in our twenty-seven years together, beginning with a tiny walk-up on the Upper West Side that we settled in weeks after graduating from college, intending for it to be a one-year starter apartment. It was in such an old, unrenovated building that the hot and cold water came out of different spigots; I cupped my hands to fill with ice-cold water and then rushed them under scalding hot water so it was warm when I rinsed my face, morning and night, for seven years.

Four years in, we got married, filling our living room with gift boxes from Bloomingdale’s, where we had registered and to which we returned almost every gift for cash to save up for an apartment to buy. We landed a studio apartment in a loft building downtown that had an elevator, doorman, and dishwasher — luxuries of which I had seven-years-long dreamed.

A week before we moved in, I looked in the bathroom mirror after a shower and noticed that the veins on my breasts were prominent, as if someone had drawn a map on them. That night, my in-laws took us to our favorite Greek restaurant to celebrate our new home and I drank two tall gin and tonics, waking up so many times in the night to use the bathroom that by the time dawn broke, I decided to pee on a stick.

I discovered, to my delight and horror, that I was pregnant. I wanted a baby, fervently and desperately, and had struggled with depression as I repeatedly tried and failed, throwing money at fertility treatments to no avail. Now, all that I had desired for my adult life — a husband, a baby, a clean apartment — were within sight, and I panicked that my reckless abandon in the form of two cocktails would bring ruin to my baby. When I stood that afternoon on the furniture floor of Bloomingdale’s and felt a warm rush of liquid between my legs, I was certain that I had asked the universe for too much…

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Laura Friedman Williams

Author of AVAILABLE: A Very Honest Account of Life After Divorce (Boro/HarperUK June ‘21; Harper360 May ‘21). Mom of three, diehard New Yorker.