Today, I paint the bedroom of my apartment exactly like my old apartment’s—I mean exactly like it. I’m not satisfied with replicating the previous wall colors or ceilings—no.

I don’t stop at converting the faded lime green walls of this new place to the soft tan of my old apartment’s walls—I stand on my bed and do my ceiling in that exact old eggshell, adding the little crags and dimples of textured plaster or stucco or whatever it’s called.

When the wall at the foot of the bed is dry, I’m ready to paint a mural of the bookcase that I was too angry to haul off.

In the winter, when I moved out because my wife told me she was having an affair, I wasn’t so angry at first as relieved. The anger came shortly after. The first emotion was relief. Not only was I relieved that the awkward spell of her not coming home at night was finally over—over and ending without me having to tell anyone—but I was relieved that the marriage was going to end, and it was going to be her fault. Our friends and family would blame her for the collapse, and they’d probably take my side.

After the bookcase, I paint the old closet on the new wall beside the bed. I leave one door open to reveal my abandoned shirts and pants. On the windowless back wall of this new room, over my bed, I paint a backyard window surveying a backyard which I sit and conjure from memory.

My ex-wife and I have only seen each other twice since the divorce—first to sign the papers and then later to picnic and attempt to be friends. I barely remember the picnic; I brought a case of Budweiser and drank them rapidly, one by one. I think we went back here to this new apartment—ostensibly for me to show her around, even though there are only three rooms. If my mortifying and hazy memory of that day is correct, I asked her if she wanted to make out. She left. I called her from work for months and begged her to take me back.

Painting my bedroom takes two days. I’m not sure if I got all the books or clothes perfect, but I’ve filled in everything I’m missing: everything I never went to pick up.

For some reason, I decided to paint the world noon outside the backyard window. Now I wish I’d painted it at nighttime. It seems bright when I turn the lights out, and I woke up in the middle of the night last night and became confused about where I was.

Before all this, well before the divorce, there was a day that I remember: my ex and I played fetch with our dog, Hero, in the backyard with a tennis ball. A few weeks later, Hero fell asleep under my car tire. I was drunk. This was when things began to turn cold.

Although the timeline gets slippery when I try to take hold of it—like a fishing line—I’ve still got the pictures on my phone of us playing catch. The pictures show that it’s dusk on August 16th, 2014. I think I killed Hero sometime in September—a month later. There are no pictures of that.

Today, after a bad night’s sleep, I paint over the backyard window—I hate it being noon out there—and I make it soft dusk like it was that August 16th, 2014, using my phone. I recreate Hero running outside in the backyard, carefully matching the ball’s colors—orange and yellow; my ex was wearing cutoff shorts. My hair was still long then, but I’m not in the pictures—I’m taking them.

As the paint dries, I sit and drink a warm beer. Cold beer hurts my teeth, and warm beer goes down faster. I go mail my last rent check. I take a walk in the fragrant spring afternoon and think that someone should pick up all the trash from beside the sidewalk, that this is a historic district, that it used to be the nicest part of town around here. That’s why I picked this new place. It’s tiny, but it’s a great neighborhood.

Once I’m back inside the apartment, I test to see if the paint has all dried, and then I slide open the painted window and slip out into our backyard to play catch in the dusk in November.