They just loved each other.
It was the innocent love of 13-year-olds—when they live kitty-corner near the cul-de-sac and have the same summer break. There are absolutely no qualifications for this love—neither he nor she had ever stopped to ask, “wait…does this guy make enough money to support me?” or, “Is she cool enough?” It was love without question and devotion without fear.
And there’s no other way to describe it except that they were 13. They had a plate of worry cooked up by their middle-school classes and their friends and their homework. They weren’t occupied by all of the adult things that take up space inside of people.
They did not mind that the other changed—they were 13, change was not only expected, but it was welcomed. At 13, you are still celebrating each other’s birthdays with wild frenzied parties, and anything that is new or changing or developing is a good thing.
They had not yet gotten to the point where they expected life to just be the same all the time. They had not yet reached the point where they wanted to just have the same job and the same wife and the same house for 30 years because somehow that feels good.
To them, feeling good simply meant playing, even though the activities of play were changing so rapidly, it was hard to keep track of what they liked and didn’t like from day to day.
Except in reality she was 25 and he was 38. They just turned his moonlit apartment into a school-yard playground and championed tether-ball and double- dutch during odd hours of the night. They turned skinned knees into opportunities to gross the other kids out and sack lunches as candidates for swapping.
They were 13 and 25 and 38 all at the same time. Youth began to reappear and they began to know youth not as a frame of time, but as the ability to let go of worry.
There was safety for the 13-year-old: you will have a bed to come to this evening, and a meal waiting for you sometime around sunset.
There was excitement for the 25-year-old: there will be hours of conversation that light up completely new world-views and doorways to expression.
There was peace for the 38-year-old: life has been neither long nor short, but if there’s any time for peace, the time is now.
But sometimes—sometimes, they were also lions. Lions on the Sahara desert, where the air is thick and heavy and the big kitty yawns are calm and slow.
In the orange world, they were cubs that loved their mama but loved to run away and play in mud and have whispered moments between them.
When it would get too warm, they would saunter back and curl up together under a tree, fearing nothing and having all the time in the world.
When the desert got too warm, they moved to the mountains and became gorillas.
The smaller one would lie flat on her back and throw her arms and legs into the air, craving grasp. Wanting only closeness, he would take his big gorilla body and hover over her, letting her limbs dangle over his back and into a clasp. He let her sway from side to side as he crawled along the mountain floor, carrying her to and fro, until the only sound was the thud of hands and big gorilla laughs.
The setting of the sun did not dictate their play or their sleep or their snuggle or their love.
They simply coasted through forms and became human—lion—gorilla—human—lion—gorilla—snowflake—human. They tumbled in and out of form for no apparent reason, the only logical glue being that they just wanted to be together.
To other people, they just seemed like two folks who liked each other just a whole darn lot.
She seemed to talk a lot about what she’d been through, how she saw things and what she wants from life.
He would sit next to her in the booth underneath the bar ceiling spackled with thousands of glittered snowflakes (decorated even before Thanksgiving came and went), and talk about the old country—the home he left 18 years ago and 5,000 miles away.
With large and delicate arms surrounding each other, he would smile and kiss her head and say, “This is how people back home love each other.”
There would be dozens of emotions swirling through each of them, as their symbolic snowflaked ceiling released the grip of snow and let each flake find its place upon the floor: space was clear.
Space was clear because they just loved each other.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman