Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Faculty Member Susan Conley's Essay Published in the New York Times

A Pact to Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

by Susan Conley

When Andrew and I left our Vermont college town, we thought we were so incredibly in love, we tried an experiment. He flew home to Canada to work, I drove to San Francisco, and we agreed not to have sex for almost a year. Not with each other during visits. Not with anyone.

We were so certain of our strong connection that we could risk abstinence. We told ourselves we wanted to see how much the experiment would make us long for each other. Our sex had been the urgent, reckless kind you have in the kitchen before lunch because you can’t wait for the short walk to the bedroom.

The first time we kissed was at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning after jumping naked into a mountain lake. This is when I swooned for him.

He was tall and Slavic, looking like Pete Sampras with a beard. He played bass guitar and made hummus from scratch. He believed in love and austerity: only one pair of jeans, one old Ramones T-shirt. And no sex for a year.


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