i spent enough of the other day driving about town in a car filled with balloons, that this story kept popping to mind...
(and it's apparently tied into about 12 other stories, so follow the links if you're in need of some extra reading after a long weekend or leave 'em if not.)
my gay high school boyfriend and i didn't talk for years.
(and yes, his monumental importance in my life is ridiculously trivialized by his identification there as "my gay high school boyfriend." his name is steven. he is amazing. he gives me license to write about anything and to include pictures. in september 2009, for the 5 1/2 hours on a tuesday night/wednesday morning and the 17 hours on a saturday in which i could not have lived without him, he was there.
we have been through wars. and silences. many. and yet he withstands my intolerable bitchiness like no other and i will love him forever and ever. always. no matter what. that said...)
most everyone knows this story but here's two years condensed in quick:
march 18th, 1999, the barnes and noble at coolsprings galleria, he was gay.
september 23, 1999, he bought the red hot chili peppers' californication at a walmart between dothan, alabama and tallahassee and, in an email that i wish to god that i had saved, he informed me that he wasn't.
six months later we kissed. kind of.
on september 6, 2000, he kissed the president of the florida state LGBT club and i told him to go be gay.
we were friends.
we were still friends. somehow.
we spoke nearly every day and then we spoke on june 13, 2001 and he went away.
because i do not let people go, i sent him a detailed updating email on every single one of his birthdays. as though nothing had happened, i told him what each of us four girls was doing. i told him when kj got married and partner and lindear. i kept him abreast of every single anniversary. and, to an email address i no longer believed to be accurate, i confessed my hopes and dreams.
i haunted that poor man and in july 2003, he wrote me back. we wrote one another several times a day for the first week i was in chicago for maph before a silence descended that lasted four more years.
in april 2007, he returned. for good.
there are people who belong in your life. no matter the history. no matter the horrible things you've said or done. no matter how they've insulted your calves. no matter what.
there's a hole in which only they fit and if they leave, they will come back. like a magnet.
i'm in no ways wise and this is the only thing of which i am absolutely certain: there are people who stick. forever and ever and ever and always. half my friendships have proven that.
in april 2007, my gay high school boyfriend came back and it was like all the lights went up in the room. we were us. i was me. he was my date to meggie's wedding.
he came to lindear's Most Amazing Brunch Ever. we hadn't seen each other in eight years and hadn't spoken in six. i had long, black hair. his hands shook as he lay down his dominos in the increasingly cut-throat game of chickenfoot unfolding on lindear's kitchen table. i wanted to reach out and calm him down.
i wanted to but i didn't.
we went to the dollar store and bought ten bucks worth of balloons for meggie's bachelorette. we shoved them into his car and set off.
we hadn't been alone in seven years. it's him and me and a dozen enormous balloons in a tiny car with no air conditioning. we're flying down the highway making small talk. it's awkward. and then it happened.
we both squealed like stuck pigs and ducked. we thought we were going to die. as sweat dripped from my brow, my gay high school boyfriend looked me square in the eye and asked earnestly, caro, are we dead???
and it wasn't gunshots. it was just the massive lime green balloons exploding in the heat. a dozen of them. one at at a time. as we went flying down the expressway.
there are people with whom you are more alive. people with whom you can be you. people who stick. no matter the history. no matter the horrible things you've said and done, they are there like a magnet. forever and ever. always. that is all i know.