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10:09 p.m. - 2012-09-27
Two girls
A long time ago there was another girl. Her name was Kate and she lived on Green Street, within walking distance of the school; she was a lawyer's kid and she played piano and had middle-class parents who loved her and a best friend and nothing to hide.

By eighth grade I was sleeping over at her house and by ninth grade I was her other half; by 10th grade she loved me and said I was her soulmate and her "you" and when we slept over we held each other all night and woke up tangled together. Every night I wished on the first star that God, or whoever was in charge, would never take her away from me. She was all I wanted.

I loved her all through high school and all through college, and a long time after that. I don't know when she stopped loving me back. She drifted further and further away, and didn't want to talk long, and moved to the West Coast when she graduated from RISD. She was my best friend, not my girlfriend, so she was allowed to move to the West Coast and not come back. But it was more than physical distance she put between us.

We were never lovers. I asked her once, maybe eight or 10 years ago, what she would have done if I had kissed her, one of those long nights that we held each other and breathed together all night long.

"I would have freaked," she said. We weren't teenagers then; we were in our 20s and old enough to have figured things out, and I believe her.

After she slipped away I faced the stark realization that there was no one else like her, no one else I could talk to in my head or love like that, no one else who could or probably ever would feel like my other half like she did. I dated men sadly, really, sad because adulthood means feeling so alone with another person. It means living with, having your body invaded by, washing the dirty laundry of and having children and supposedly sharing your most intimate throughts with, someone who remains so completely separate and "other." I couldn't feel, as an adult, how I felt with her as a teenager -- not even close.

I chalked this up to teenagerhood. Teenagers are insane, basically. Adults are balanced, reasonable, and boring. They're already dying; they're past their best, most important, most passionate years.

I loved Matt, I really did. In time, I wouldn't have traded him for her, because he was a better friend than she had ever been, he loved me and she didn't, he needed and wanted me and she didn't, and most of all, he was THERE. He was my life and the father of my children and she wasn't, but sometimes I would wash the dishes and think of her and cry.

Once or twice I stupidly read her old letters and collapsed like jello on the basement floor, hiding behind the cardboard boxes, when no one was home and no one could see or hear me, and sobbed until I couldn't breathe and wanted to stop breathing and wanted to die right there, or at least never stop crying.

It was because I wanted to feel that way again. I wanted to feel the way she made me feel. I wanted to feel the way I felt when I touched her, or even thought of her. When I read the letters I remembered. I remembered with my whole body.

I thought I would never feel that way again, but A makes me feel that way. Maybe not as intensely, perhaps because I haven't known her nearly as long or as well, but she makes me feel alive in a way I thought was dead in me.

And I feel like it's bad to even say that she reminds me of Kate in so many ways (she's NOT Kate; I am projecting, right? I'll be disappointed and disappoint us both) but she says the same weird things, and is sort of tough and guarded and self-contained but vulnerable too ...

She sort of makes me think of Kate would have been like had she been from the other side of the tracks -- Kate never had any real hard knocks in life and A has had a lot, and a lot fewer opportunities. Kate never had anything to feel sorry for herself about but she never did (a lot of people who don't, do) and a doesn't feel sorry for herself either, or make excuses. She isn't very good at talking, or opening up, so she writes me e-mails of things she can't say. (Kate used to write me letters.) She makes me happy. She makes me feel like I'm not alone in my head anymore, and I want her to come back before she's gone, and I don't want to let go of her. She makes me feel protective. She is amazing.



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