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Two weeks before my 40th birthday, my husband of five years told me he wanted to be with a woman he worked with at Citibank more than he wanted to be with me and our 14-month-old daughter.

I was nearly paralyzed with fear. How was I going to make it as a single parent? What was I going to do? I was becoming thinner by the minute. My size eight clothes hung off of me, but there was no one to care or tease me that there was finally room for my shirt and rear end to share a pair of pants again.

Then one evening while sitting on the edge of the bed staring at walls papered in yellow and white stripes, my eyes wandered to the bookshelves in our bedroom, and that was when I saw it. He'd not only left me, he'd left his journal, too. I thought I'd never read anyone else's diary; I had too much respect for other people's privacy. I guess I didn't know myself as well as I thought I did because I barely hesitated a nanosecond before I grabbed it and began reading.

I flipped through the pages about trout fishing and tying flies made from dog hair. My husband was a tall, good-looking WASP who liked outdoorsy things, and owned his own waders and pricey fishing rods. He even belonged to a fly-fishing club that met in some landmark building downtown.

Then I came to a page where I was the subject. He wrote about what he called my "peasant hands," which he said I "called attention to by wearing a lot of rings." Peasant hands? Did he mean I had short fat fingers? I wore a size five ring. That didn't seem short and fat to me. I actually thought I had nice hands; I had a manicure every week. Of course, my father's family were Russian Jews; my grandfather had fled the czar's army. Was that what he meant when he wrote about the peasant part of me?

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