There was a time when I thought you had forgotten about me. It was the summer after 10th grade right before school let out. I had been suspended more times than I could count that year. They warned me if I left school before classes were over one more time they’d kick me out for good. I remember that day vividly. The bell rang, prompting a 15 minute break between classes. Everyone clustered off into their groups to talk about whatever trivial gossip was on the menu for that day and I decided to walk across the street, just off school property, to an inviting patch of grass. The assistant principal caught wind of me being off school property and made his way to the edge of the street to yell at me to come back. His loafers skimmed the edge of the road, hands on his hips, as if the asphalt separating us was hot lava. I sat in the grass, the passing cars drowning out his voice to the point where I could only read his non-verbal gestures, which seemed more like he was waving someone back to shore after spotting a shark than some sixteen year old with a bad case of wanting to GTFO. It was the last day of school, what was he going to do, suspend me? I waved back at him and turned my attention to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the school where you stood with your bmx and skater friends. There you were, like some kind of Van Morrison dreamy little asshole with your long hair, thrift-store shirt a size too small and levis jeans on. These were the years when we didn’t talk much. The in between years. Our days of “dating” in the 7th and 8th grade had passed and now we both had our own things going on. I had beef with authority and you hated the homogeneity of small town people we were surrounded by. Part of me still had the hugest crush on you, but it was largely masked by the fact that you acted like no one existed outside of your guy friends. Well, and Laura. The senior cheerleader who had decided, for whatever reason, to get her weird on and make out with you a few times in the backseat of your friend’s mustang. It was cool, I was doing the same with Joel, an art student at a local college who drew me pictures.
That day, sitting there in the grass, you saw me looking at you and we smiled at each other through the glass. Even though we didn’t talk, we always acknowledged the common ground we shared between us. It wasn’t until later that we would cash in on our similarities and turn it into something more again.
Last night while driving back from a cafe in town on the island, you looked over at me. I could see the whites in your eyes and the half smile on your face from the street lights as we passed underneath them. Your right hand left the gear shifter and searched for mine in the dark until our fingers met. You shook your head, eyes on the road.
“I don’t care where we are, as long as I’m with you”, you told me.
Thanks for sitting in the grass of life with me. It’s better over here.