THE DOG MAKES THE BED In the end, each of us has only one story to tell. Yet despite having lived that story, most people have neither the courage nor any idea of how to tell it. I did not live this long so that now, when I am finally able to talk about my life, I will lie about it. What's the point? There is no one left to impress. Those who once loved or hated me are gone or have barely enough energy left to breathe. Except for one. There is little else to do now but remember. I am an old old woman with a head full of memories, fragile as eggs. Yet the memories remain loud and demanding. "Remember me!" they shout. Or "Remember the dog that spoke." I say, "Tell the truth! Are you sure? Or are you making up more convenient history just to make me feel better?" It is too easy to turn your best profile to history's mirror. But history doesn't care. I have learned that. Mirrors and treasure maps.Xmarks the spot not where a life begins, but where it begins to matter. Forget who your parents were, what you learned, what you did, gained, or lost. Where did the tripbegin? When did you know you were walking through the departure gate? My story, theXon my map, began in a Santa Monica hotel with the dog that made the bed. * * * We'd met right after college. For a while, for a year and a half, both of us truly believed this would be the great love of both our lives. We lived together, visited Europe for the first time together, talked shyly about marriage and what we would name our children. We bought things we knew would live in a great old house we'd have someday by an ocean. He was the best lover I ever had. What ruined us was simple: at twenty-one you're too damned optimistic. Too sure life has so many wonderful things in store that you can afford to be careless. We treated our relationship like a dependable car that would always start and run, no matter how cold or bad the weather. We were wrong. Things got bad very quickly. We were unprepared for failure and each other's dumb cruelty. When you're that young, it is easy to go from lovers to enemies in a couple of breaths. I began calling him Dog. He called me Bitch. We deserved the names. So why, twelve years later, was that very same Dog sitting in an expensive hotel room when I came out of the shower, wet hair wrapped in a towel and pleased to see he'd made the bed? A bed we'd shared for the last ten hours with as great a relish as always between us? Because you take what you can get. Women love to talk. If you find a man who loves to listenandwho happens to be a great lover, damn the rest. You're the one who has to live inside your skin and conscience. If you can visit an old lover and still revel in whatever things you once had between you, then they are still yours if you want them. Is it right to do? I only know that life is a series of diminishing returns, ending with too many days in a chair, staring. I always sensed it would be that way. I wanted to be an old woman remembering, not complaining or fretting until death rang the dinner bell. Over the years Dog and I had met when it was convenient. Almost always it was a joyous, selfish few days together. Both of us left those meetings replenished. His word, and it fit. He'd made the bed and straightened the room. But that was Doug Auerbach: an organized man and a successful one too, up to a point. I admired him but was glad we had never married. The place looked exactly as it had the day before when we'd walked in. He was sitting with his hands in his lap, watching a game show on television. The oohs and aahs of the audience sounded sad in that cavernous lilac room. I stood looking at him, toweling my hair, wondering when we'd meet again.Carroll, Jonathan is the author of 'Marriage of Sticks' with ISBN 9780312872434 and ISBN 0312872437.