I will be with JJ
In my innocence, before life became difficult, I daydreamed about you as I listened to Beach Boys 45s in my room. California was a distant land but I knew I would marry a girl from there.
Your smile danced like light on water Your golden hair touched my face. Your skin was of sun and sweat and mountain air. Your legs dangled, bumping against mine, as we sat on a wall laughing. You giggled with me when I tickled you in the back yard as fireflies winked at us. And you picked flowers and told me their stories.
We whispered to one another in the dark. In fantasies that I never told a soul, you smiled only for me, and you smelled lik summertime and warm kitchen smells and breezes on the water. You would hold my hand and make funny things happen In my heart. Of course I would never get the nerve to kiss you, but the thought of it was sweet torment.
I wish that I knew back then that dreams come true.
I would be with JJ.
Girls troubled me. Their hairspray, their makeup their smiles were never for me. My shoulders tanned in the sun, eyes shot red from swimming pool days, bugs bounced against baseball park lights on muggy nights. Desire for nameless you was swampy inside me. The Beach Boys record featured the bottom half of a girl in a polka dot bikini. You must have been on some other cover because in my elaborate daydreams you were uniquely lovely, beautiful as desert sandstone and the turquoise we hunted on the mesas of New Mexico where my first childhood memories live.
You faded in my thoughts. How could someone so real be real? I pursued and mostly failed with girls close to home. Then I found you but I didn’t know it. My daydreams weren’t so vivid anymore and I had forgotten.
We rode silver buses together and shared moments of vague friendship. Mythical California, sun-kissed skin and that laugh.
But we were passing one another on the way to someone else. I stare at a photo from that time, my arm around your waist, your hand in mine, and wonder how I didn’t recognize you right in front of me, my childhood fantasy, my childhoood prophecy. What might have been can overwhelm me if I let it.
Today I remember an inexplicable pang of envy when you and another man entered the airport the last time I saw you, more than 25 years ago. Did I want you then? Then you were gone.
All these years later, water under so many broken bridges, each of us broken in our own way— scarred by shame, regret, and wounds we buried deep in secret places, somehow deluding ourselves that we deserved fear powerful enough to keep us from living wholehearted lives, to keep us from fully cherishing every moment of the short time we have together.
But the past is also my vivid daydreams. Those were beautiful not dark.
The past is the spectacular collision when we were given no choice but to be together. Within 48 hours I walked into the kitchen and my legs buckled. I sagged into a chair and whispered, “This is what love is supposed to be.” A crash of perfection, beautiful ruin
My heart still hammers in my chest. When you are near me.
The past is picking golden flowers on the hillside where you sat in childhood meditation.
Your eyes still dance for me in blue light of a darkened bedroom. Your beauty steals my breath like hiking at timberline. Your hair kisses my face as we make love. Your skin burns me like the sun. Your legs tangle with mine in the sheets and wrap around me when desire tries to carry me away. My long ago fantasy did not know your heart. You soothe me with kindness, your generous love makes me unworthy. You smile at me. I pray it will always be for me.
You saved my life despite the confusion of watching me fall into dark, dangerous places.
This is also our past, a past of love and trust and passion, and no one or no sorrow can fade it. I simply must—we simply must— remember to go back to these memories and give them the weight of an anchor and the invincibility of armor. The longing of absence even when we are in the same house. The pain of watching each other grieve and stare into dark alleys of trauma. The temptation to hide from pain and each other. We will find our way through no doubt, by remembering where we’ve been.
Life is harder right now. It’s harder to give our miracles and conquest their proper place. We had no choice but to fall in love and we have no choice but to stay there.
If only I had known through all the dark times? if only I had known so long ago? Useless questions.
I do know now. I am with JJ.