Remember when we were small and we would remove our clothes – the clothes we had so carefully chosen that day: my overalls and backward cap, your star-spangled shirts, two pairs of beaten sneakers. Remember when we would remove our clothes and raid our parents’ cupboards, finding markers, drawing all over each other’s bodies, bodies we had not yet learned to despise. Remember climbing up over chairs that looked like skyscrapers, decorating my father’s computer with Sharpie? Do you remember feeling no remorse? What was that feeling? Satisfaction?
How about in first grade when I pushed you over because you were different? Remember when I helped those little boys hold you down, and how we fed you grass until you gagged? Do you remember how we laughed that day you came into class with damp pants? You pissed yourself by the oval. It was funny, then.
I was always playing with the boys. Sometimes you would, too. Remember how we would join in on their games, often besting them, occasionally making them cry? I remember the time you wore a boy’s uniform to school in the second grade. I remember noticing the profundity, even at age 7. Do you remember it? Did it feel profound to you? And what did it feel like when they scolded you for it? Would they still do that?
Do you remember in fifth grade when we would push our desks together in the back corner and hold hands? I remember how I would gather with the other girls who believed they were in love – we would write notes, decorate them with hearts and flowers, pass them to you all one-by-one, in secret. Were we in love? Was that possible? Sometimes you received them well. Sometimes you mocked me. Sometimes we would part ways, but we would always end up kissing in the trail down by the fence, the one that ran through the trees. Students were forbidden there.
Remember in seventh grade when we first met? We didn’t like each other. Do you remember why? I don’t. Maybe we sensed the static between us that was later to become like a sisterhood. I remember how we would never be able to stop talking; a constant flow of chatter, our lips were never closed. I don’t remember what we talked about. Remember how we were never allowed to work together? Remember at that first school camp, when you picked somebody else for your tent? I was with the girl that nobody liked. I had to squash spiders with the butt of my flashlight. She was always sleeping, and we would laugh about the fact that she never showered. Remember that? Remember that second school camp, when our teacher made us pitch our tent 100 metres away from the group? Nobody was able to sleep while we were about. That didn’t change for years.
Remember when we were fifteen and we would write each other notes in class? I remember pages upon pages upon pages. We would meet at the water fountain, or in between periods, as soon as the bell sounded. Remember how good we became at folding them into those small, self-contained envelopes? Yours were always better than mine. Your handwriting was, too. I still write like a 12 year old boy. Do you remember the relationship we cultivated through trivial jokes and letters about how terrible our teachers were and what we would wear that weekend? I remember filling a box with them. There were hundreds. Last year I poured them into the recycle bin. I felt a pang of nostalgia, all those years later.
Do you remember in ninth grade when we met? You were strange; you skulked around hallways and rarely spoke. I would liken you to a feline, would that not be such an utterly clichéd thing to do. You were foreign in more way than one. Remember how we became friends, quietly, unnoticed? Remember how we would speak hushedly through the night – we didn’t keep anybody up – about everybody else, their peculiarities, their assets. Eventually, the sun would rise and you would return to your side of the playground, and I to mine. Do you remember that?
Remember the tenth grade? You were a hurricane; a tornado; a force of nature by any name. You were unmistakeable, loud, crashing through hallways and through lives and through mine. Do you remember how we would laugh? Usually at other people, usually at something we had caused. I remember thinking, even then, there must have been a mutation in the atmosphere that brought us together. It was hardly fair to to have two of us in one space. But remember how you would crumble so quickly? Do you remember how I would come to your aid, always saving you? Remember how tiring that was? I do.
Do you remember falling in love, or something quite alike it?
Remember falling out of it?
Remember holing up in our apartment, smoking, sleeping, rarely moving? Do you remember huddling under that giant blanket, the one we named? Do you remember spending a whole evening wrapping a balcony in Christmas lights, then being told to remove them? What about the time we danced to Frank Sinatra in our pyjamas? Remember all of the sushi? Do you recall the comfortable surety of that time: every night spent together, without question, with nothing to alter our plans?
Do you remember what happened then?
I remember the first time I laid eyes upon you. It’s rare that all our expectations are met, let alone exceeded. You were sprawling and tiny all at once; trying to explain you is like trying to grab at a handful of water. Remember how much time we spent together, just you and I? Do you remember how many hours I wandered, alone, crossing every inch of you, learning everything I could? You were beautiful in the most startling ways; beautiful for your filth, your stench, your stories. Do you remember how you would make me cry for three different reasons in one day? I do.
Do you remember when we met? We were already Facebook friends. You told me we would be best friends now, and we were. Remember how you steered me around your life, opening my eyes, singing to me in showtunes, sharing tacos with me? Do you remember that time I put my guitar on my back, took it on the subway, brought it all the way above 60th street for you? I remember when we would drink red wine and have conversations in a language I am not sure even exists outside of you. Remember that boy with the elongated nipple?
Do you remember falling in love?
Remember falling out of it?