The memory is fuzzy now, a mixture of images and emotions, pauses because I really have to think. Fourteen years. I got off work at Osh Kosh B’Gosh in the outlet mall and you were waiting on the curb with your best friend and this beautiful girl from your apartment complex. It was hot and I was giddy because I knew you had waited hours for my shift to end, your cute face appearing inside the store when there were still hours left.
The three of you followed me home in your 80’s five liter Mustang with the leaky T-tops. My dad was just getting off work in his business suit and you were forced to shake his hand in the garage. I grimaced for you. It had to be a strong handshake, your death trap of a car parked out front and that smile on your face.
We decided to drive to a party at a childhood friend’s house. You rode with me in my Mazda 626 that kept on dying when I tried to get anywhere outside of Folsom, more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. Somehow, that night, it made it. You braced yourself each time I braked. We laughed anxiously. Your friends followed in the Mustang.
The party was tame by teenage standards, if anyone drank we had nothing to do with it. Instead we talked and talked until our faces were so close together that I wondered if you always talked to girls so close and then I thought it would be less awkward if I just kissed you. Later you claimed it was your plan all along for me to make the final move. It was the sweetest, gentlest kiss of my sixteen years. I knew you were different than the other boys.
You had to leave early, but at my best friend’s house we talked on the phone, a call filled with long silences and shy laughter. We decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Fourteen years later I am sitting in bed with our daughter scribbling these thoughts into a journal with just a nightlight. Like usual, it is 4AM and everyone else is asleep. I am at my mom’s and you are home, but with our sleeping child warm against my leg, I feel like you are here.
She is the most beautiful part of us but I am also glad we had those nearly fourteen years alone together first. High school dances, endless summer nights, college weekends in Davis, trips to Europe, our Berkeley apartment, our first house, the most beautiful wedding I could imagine. So much life lived, but so much more to go.
I love you, Alex.