How Will You Love Me?

Before Mary and I had our first date, she sent me this mixtape of “I don’t want to date anyone” songs. She said it was just what she was listening to. But in between the songs you could hear that other thing: I am more than fine on my own, buddy.

I fell in love with Mary by text. She told me her handwriting was really something, but her writing in general was enough for me. It was vulnerable and funny and smart. Her texts turned my cell phone into something precious. I held it like a puppy. Shit! I had no idea this thing was so great!

That was five and a half years ago. When I was in my thirties. And had different dogs. An apartment with box ceilings. A child in preschool.

I have to remind myself I didn’t know her in high school. That we didn’t grow up together. That I lived places she didn’t and was lonely sometimes and couldn’t tell her.

In the car last week, Gavin told me that Mary was going to make being a teenager easy.

“How?” I asked.

“She’s going to come out, wearing her punk rock jeans, with her hair dyed blue and lots of earrings and she’s going to say, ‘Gavin! This is your punk rock life! And you don’t want to waste it fighting with your mom! Or getting mad at your teacher! Or being a jerk! Let’s dance, Gavin! Let’s be punk rock!'”

“She’d look great with blue hair.”

“She would,” he agreed. “I’ll tell her.”

Time folds over itself like a note in class. I have all these things to say to you. I’m just beginning to put the sentences together. To gather them up. Like children.

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