The High School Sweetheart
You remind me of fresh-cut grass before soccer games and of bright-white football-field Friday night lights.
You remind me of sneaking out past curfew and listening to cicadas by the beach in the thick August heat.
You remind me of pointing out stars, of just starting to figure out who we are.
You remind me of times when I laughed more and worried less.
You remind me of when I didn’t feel stress or care about the way we dressed.
You remind me of school dances and second chances.
You remind me of first love.
You remind me of everything I once was.
You remind me that childhood love has something no future love does: It lived and breathed while we grew up.
It was the love that grew with us.
And then, it was the love we grew apart from.
The Classmate Who Died
Only the good die young, or so the Billy Joel song goes. You look so happy in your picture. I think about how, unlike the rest of us, your face will never know the wrinkles of time. You will never age past this photo of you laughing. I wonder what you were laughing about. I wonder who you would have been today.
Would you have finally discovered your dream job? Or would you have discovered that your dreams had changed? Would you have settled back in our hometown, taking your children to the same places we went when we were kids? Or would you have refused to settle until you had traveled around the world and redefined what the meaning of “home” really is?
You are gone now, yet still, here you are. The Internet has become a modern-day mausoleum of people who have left us. Maybe this helps us keep them alive. Maybe seeing their faces and old messages together in one place helps us remain feeling close to them, helps us believe that they are still just one click away.
The Former Best Friend
There are tears trickling streaming pouring out of your eyes down your face and you say how could you do this and I say I don’t know and you say I don’t believe you and I say I don’t know I don’t know and there’s salt water everywhere it’s blinding my eyes now burning them so you look warped like I’m seeing you through thick coke-bottle glass like we used to drink from when we were young carefree innocent before we got older and lines rules boundaries started to blur and everything is blurry I don’t know whose tears are whose but I do know the more we cry the further we are falling away from each other and I want to hold you I want to make it better but you are looking at me like I am a stranger now there is ringing in my ears now everything is muted now except for the sound of two hearts breaking now and that is when I know.
We will never be the same again. There is nothing like the pain of a breakup between best friends.
The Father Of My Gay Best Friend
When your son first came out to me, I remember my mouth dropping open in shock the way I’d only seen in movies but never experienced. I had no idea. But it didn’t change a thing. If anything, I grew to love him more. I felt a newfound desire to protect him.
I remember being afraid, so very afraid. He was a best friend with an even better heart, and the world can be so cruel and unyielding to that which it does not understand. Growing up is already hard. To be gay was adding an additional, more complex layer of challenges for him to navigate. I could not bear the idea of anyone harming him.
He told me before he told you. But did you already know? Was there some part of your paternal instinct that had known all along?
There are many people who question the validity of love between two men. They define “manly” the way Merriam-Webster does: Virile, strong; the provider. The patriarch to the stereotypical family a man creates with a woman.
I need you to know this about your son: When he was knocked down, he stood up taller than before. When he was afraid to fail, he tried, and he tried again. When he knew he was playing against the odds, he risked it all in the name of truth and happiness anyways.
And when I was at my absolute weakest, he lifted me up. When I lost my faith, he gave me hope again. When I did not know where to go, he led me home. He grasped my face in both hands and looked me in the eyes and said, “You are amazing. You can do this. I believe in you. I love you so much.”
Your son embodies the strength of a man more than most men I know. Thank you for his existence. He is a gift to the world.
The Landlord Of My Summer Beach Share House
If only those walls could talk.
Your house built for five would tell you how it became a home for 20. It would describe to you the ways in which a group of almost strangers formed their own little family, forging bonds of friendship with the strength of steel.
The trails of sand embedded between the wood flooring would recall our days spent at the beach, laughing, always laughing, with the sun coaxing tawny hues from our skin and the ocean spraying its sweet salt water into our hair. Beer foam flowing from coolers and cheeseburgers flipping charring sizzling over the smell of burning charcoal.
You would hear about love lost and love found. Secrets shared and promises broken. Personal growth. So much growth. You would understand how much every square inch of the shag carpet and every splinter from the seaside back deck meant to us. You would know how much letting us live there during those summers meant to us. One of us even wrote a book about it. It’s his story of coming out one summer, in that very house. Did you know that? Your house that was our home meant so damn much to us.
If only those walls could talk.
The Girl An Ex Cheated With
There is a savage beast named Anger that lurks in the depths of the darkest parts of our souls. It silently feeds on ugliness and atrocity and betrayal; every time the heat rises within us, it grows stronger. Eventually, if we are not careful, Anger will turn into Hate.
Anger in white hot rage hurts no one but ourselves, so I close my eyes, I take a deep breath and I pray. I call upon Love and Faith and Courage to come tell the beast to go away. I refuse to feed the hurt today.
The New Girlfriend Of The Cheater
Your couples photo would be just like any other if I hadn’t once been the girl on his arm. I don’t know you, but I do know that I was you once. I hope that you will not become me. No one deserves to be broken like that. But if it happens, I hope you know that you will be okay. The cracks are where the light gets in. Scars are tissues that grew back stronger than they were before.
The Almost-Boyfriend Whose Heart I Broke
You didn’t deserve to be an in-between. You didn’t deserve to be a maybe. You deserved to be a boyfriend. You know that, right? But you deserved to be someone else’s boyfriend. Not mine.
I am so sorry. I wasn’t ready. And the thing about people who aren’t ready is that they need to be selfish before they can be selfless. They need to take the time to really, truly figure out who they are, what they want, where they are going—before they can share that time with another.
You, on the other hand, were already selfless. You had the kindest heart. You knew who you were, what you wanted, where you planned to be. When you gave me your love, I accepted it because I thought I was ready. When I realized I couldn’t give my love to you, I ran because I wasn’t.
You were perfect for someone, but I would not have been perfect for you.
The Guy Who Ghosted Me
Well, well, well. We meet again.
Why is it that every time I Google something on my desktop, it later appears as a sponsored Facebook ad on my phone—yet Facebook lacks the courtesy to hide the people who have ghosted me from its seemingly intelligent list of suggested friends?
Oh, technology. You are so smart. But you really could use a lesson in emotional intelligence.
The Player I Couldn’t Quit
You poured verbal kerosene deep within my kindling heart and yet after I handed you the match to strike I was somehow still surprised when my chest went up in flames.
I wanted to be with you in the honesty of daylight, but I listened when you told me fire burns most brightly untethered in the darkness of evening air.
I believed you because I wanted a mad kind of magic, the same way Jack Kerouac described Roman candles exploding across the sky.
You let me because you liked knowing you could make another person burn.
The Mother Of My Favorite Ex
If he and I had dated longer, perhaps you would not be a suggested friend, but rather, a real friend. When I met you, I knew you were someone I would like to call a friend. After all, you raised your son, and he was my best friend. He made me want to be a better person. He made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to do and succeed. I knew that some of the things I loved the most about him were the kind of things one only learns from a mother who loved them deeply. I knew that the way in which he loved you so deeply in return meant that he was capable of one day bestowing that same kind of love upon another woman.
Time slowly revealed that that woman would not be me. But time will never erase the fact that you gave life to a good man. You did a more than good job. I hope that you are proud.
The Mother Who Doesn’t Use Social Media
Hello? You there? Hi! It’s me again. Remember how I told you at Thanksgiving that you keep rejecting my friend requests? Yes, I know it’s by accident—I’m not mad. It’s just kind of funny. After all, here you are in my queue of suggested friends as if you’re a shade below “acquaintance,” yet you’re the person I talk to more than anyone else. Maybe you secretly don’t want to know what I’m up to. If it’s any consolation, I promise it’s nothing bad.
I know you worry a lot, but I promise I’m doing okay. I know that I’ve had my fair share of screwups, but I promise I’m still trying to do my best. I promise that even though I’m an adult now, I will forever be your little girl. Don’t let photos fool you. I still love Batman. I still want to be someone you are proud to call your own. I still want to be the kind of mother who will teach their child the kind of things only a mother can. I still want to grow up to be like you.
Oh, and Mom? You don’t have to sign off every text with a signature. I know it’s you. I love you so much. Love, your daughter.
The Person Who Will Be My Future
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I have this recurring daydream where I’m walking up to you on the most perfectly temperate summer day, at the magic-hour moment when the sun is beginning its golden descent into dusk. You look at me as yellow rays are slanting across your eyes at just the right angle, and solar flares eclipse straight through my chest.
When you tell me you love me, I believe you. When you tell me I am the most beautiful girl you have ever met, I know that you are describing my heart and my mind.
We go camping under the cool New England foliage with its seamlessly transitioning leaves in shades of crimson orange gold, like I did every autumn as a child. I challenge you to a marshmallow roasting contest, carefully rotating the white cloud of sugar as methodically as possible above the glow of the burning embers. We throw our heads back in laughter as the end of my stick goes up in flames.
On rainy Sundays, we sprawl out across the couch separately yet with our ankles intertwined. You read the news aloud to me from white grey black crackling papers, while I tell you stories from my love-worn, dog-eared books. It feels safe in this space between us. If home is where the heart is, then I need no geographically appointed location whenever I’m with you.
One day when we talk about making a home for a family of our own, you brush your hair back from your eyes and I remember the time I first saw your face in the pixelated thumbnail of your profile photo. I remember how Facebook suggested we become friends, and we laugh at the twisted path of clicks that got us to the place where we finally clicked.
Maybe Facebook was suggesting a stranger. Maybe Facebook was suggesting someone I had already met.