What would it be like, she wondered, to watch someone else love my friend?
No. Not like that. Get your mind out of that gutter.
I will not shame you for being there.
Far be it from me.
But we're headed elsewhere.
We're headed toward your thirties, toward married friends and former beloveds.
Toward a countertop with bar-height stools.
Toward a breakfast nook.
Toward the prospect of being a single person amongst couples.
How might you live contentedly? And watch his arm at their back, her face near his, their words saying I love you to eir ears, and knowing that, in some cases contractually, your love for them will always be a certain kind of second.
Morning is a feeling, not a time. Just like love is a verb, not a contract. Not something that is ever actually conditional, or even end-able. Changeable, certainly.
'Til death do us part—well.
How do I love, well?
Which part of my mind can I go to in that moment of
Exclusion, in all of its newness?
From what font might I draw a bowl of
Forgetfulness, of happy-for-you-ness?
Dare I think we were given two sides of our faces for kisses,
Or rather, an edgeless surface—all one side with plenty of room,
Squishy Klein bottles seeking both empty air and attention,
Coming and going from the fridge and the oven,
Dropping off a plate of home fries.
More than one eye for depth perception.
More than one love... for depth perception?
Of course I dare it. I have the temerity to bear such supple folly.
Or at least to court it, she thinks.
She remembers a hike with her married friends, the first set she's been close with.
Where she learned backstory.
Let judgement dissolve.
There was, blessedly, no longing there, other than for sitting, aged, with him on a porch, when they are old, minds still nimble. She couldn't imagine ever running out of things to talk about. Nothing untoward. Yet she had been months of slightly edge-sat thinking about how deeply she had not wanted to be seen as an interloper in this love, even if the friendship was pre-present to the contract. She feared being the legendary third wheel, who is supposed to feel so out of place.
Why do we so dislove love triangles, demanding choice, when we could fill them in with all different kinds of care, patience, attention, and love.
Triangles are such a strong shape.
They offer redundancy, like the backup webbing of a highline, there to catch if something breaks. Another inch-wide strip that is somehow enough to hold you against your mortality, on which you can wobble, and smile, and grin, and bounce. On which you can spin around on, anchor yourself to, fall from. So many gorgeous prepositions available. Harnessed up. Free solo upon. With confidence in catching, a partial fall from such height is not a death sentence.
She came to extreme sports for the cool factor. She stayed for the camaraderie and the high-stakes metaphors.
Her latest Youtubed fascination lead her to googling the mortality rate of slacklining, looking up incidents and accidents, finding the passing of a young man on a bike, who had run into a slackline on a college campus.
That was the only passing she could find.
It does not mean that someone hasn't fallen to their deaths,
It just means that the tangential knowledge she has of
Peter Thompson, and Shannon Christy
might not be a thing so common among slackliners.
What is it to know that people have died doing your sport (for her, it was whitewater kayaking) and to do it anyway?
What is it to know that her grandfather died as he lived, sitting at his desk swearing, loudly, and to do it anyway?
All things have risks, and she found out strangely early in my life that she could, at least in the wistful, teenaged, mother-reassuring-hypothetical case, die a contented death doing something she loved.
This does not mean that she seeks death—but she sees death in all its charming inevitability, this thing that we speak of in terms of saving lives, when we may just as well speak of postponing deaths.
But we dare not speak its name, her name, their name—his name?
Who am I to gender Death.
I can't tell you where I'm going with all this.
Am I here to tell you that love is an extreme sport?
That if a plurality of care calls to you, it's as good a thing to suffer for as any?
Am I here to tell you that in caring about anything,
the heartbreak is baked in from the first,
so you may as well soften to the last,
and relish the ride?
I cannot tell you.
I cannot tell you what it will be like, grandaughter. You'll just have to live it.
You can tell me once you have.
It will all be over before you know it.
And it will all be here forever.
With love, as ever,