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it starts with an n

23 Aug

On this day twenty-something years ago, the first boy I’d ever liked was born. And I don’t care all that much anymore. Not like I did. Not since some time in high school when I learned there were other cute boys, funny boys, really lovely boys who made me just as stupid and nervous as he did. And compared to high school humiliation, generally, it’s almost kind of sweet to recall myself at eleven or twelve years, having my friends tell him how I felt while I listened on the other line when he said he preferred other girls. Almost, kind of. But I like that he was born. And I like that I remember him and all his little details I’d collect like pennies in the bank, his middle name, his baseball team, his favorite color. All of it written somewhere with a Gelly Roll, probably, keeping space where it would otherwise be forgotten or lost, a dusty memory, a piece of myself trapped with him when I thought there’d be no one else. And I’m afraid of getting old and forfeiting whatever it is that proves I was young once, that I know how it feels to stand against the wall and hope to be asked to dance, to listen to a song on repeat and pretend you don’t notice your devotion to it is a metaphor,  to ache to be kissed for the first time. On the lips. Under the orange glow of a streetlight, maybe. With music heard faintly in the distance and his hand pressed against the small of my back. Because I remember still, years and years later, that while we sang Happy Birthday to him in school and he walked around the class with a tray of cupcakes, I had a chance to tell him I thought he was special, and even if I never really did, I knew what I meant, and that’s still something to me.

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