Remember in high school when we used to buy weed at the health food store? Our dealer worked there. He would pass us the drugs at the check-out counter as we paid for apples and yogurt-covered raisins.
So many memories of you and I. Always together as a team. Often up to no good, but maintaining excellent grades so that our parents stayed off our backs.
And always secretly in love with each other.
Sure we were part of a larger clique, but we were inseparable. Rolling our eyes at each other as Jenny and Steve made out in the hallway. Trying to make each other laugh in math class so that our teacher Mr. Halloway finally separated us. You had that thing where you flared your nostrils and it got me every time. Even if you were across the room, if I looked up and saw you flaring your nostrils I would burst out laughing.
Remember Halloween 1984? We dressed up as Sony and Cher and won best costume duo at the dance. That was the same year that Erica passed out in the coat room.
“She could choke on her vomit, she drank like five screwdrivers, let’s stay with her” you said, so we smoked cigarettes watching over her until she woke up.
Where were the teachers? The parents? I literally don’t remember anyone really in charge back then. Good God.
We occasionally dated people, but it was just for show. We weren’t actually interested in anyone but each other.
Remember that private school guy I dated for a few months? He was a fencer. You used to make fun of his fencing uniform and it was ridiculous. You dated that pretty Australian girl for awhile, the one who smelled like cherry lip gloss. I made fun of your mouth because it was always shiny after she kissed you.
Applying to colleges we made sure to apply to the same ones, or at least colleges in the same area. In the end you chose Columbia and I chose NYU and on the weekends we would meet up and go dancing at that crazy club. It was in a church. What was it called? Limelight! It was called Limelight. We saw kids shooting up heroin there and it scared me, so you grabbed my hand and flared your nostrils to make me laugh.
And then there was that night: tripping on mushrooms in Central Park. It was right after December exams and we were making snow angels and giggling at the stars which looked like psychedelic planets to us.
“I’ve been in love with you since the ninth grade, when you walked into home room wearing those pointy black buckled boots. You were so cool. So smart and funny. Way out of my league. But I swore that one day I would marry you.”
“Whaaaat?” I yelled, throwing snow on you.
“I’ve been in love with YOU since I saw you in home room. You were wearing skinny black cords and a Clash t-shirt and I thought you were the most beautiful boy I had ever seen.”
You grabbed my face with your mittens, the mittens your grandmother knit you every winter and you kissed me. We kissed and we kissed and we kissed and oh my god it felt so good to kiss you; I’d been waiting for years.
“I know we’re baked, but damn Lizzie I want to marry you. Will you marry me?”
“Oh my God our parents will freak out!” I said between kisses.
“But, yes, I’ll marry you,” I said smiling.
A few days later we were standing in Manhattan’s City Clerk’s Office. You wearing a secondhand black suit, white shirt, skinny tie and your Chuck Taylors. Me wearing a 1960’s black lace dress, rhinestone earrings and black heels borrowed from my wealthy roommate. We bought our rings from a street vendor named Tate who made jewelry from discarded wire.
You remembered to bring your Nikon and we payed the security guard to take photos of us. God we were beautiful. Young and beautiful and so in love.
Who gets married in their Junior year of college? No one. So we kept it a secret.
We moved into that tiny east village apartment, the one near Avenue A. Our first night in our new home was Chinese take out from Lily’s around the corner. We ate with chopsticks, sitting on the beautiful Persian carpet that I had scored on garbage night. I eventually decorated our whole apartment with furniture I found on garbage night, mostly from the upper east side. I would take the subway home with all kinds of treasures: 1930’s standing lamps, ornate gold mirrors, mid-century artwork…People threw out good stuff back then.
Making love on that tiny futon up in the loft until we were exhausted and starving. You would climb down the rickety ladder to fetch us a snack and we’d fall asleep listening to “Pictures of You” by The Cure.
“Mom, let me take over for you. You’re exhausted. Go home and get some rest. I’ll stay here with dad.”
“Thanks love,” I say, taking my daughter’s hand.
“I’m going to read him my new poems. I’m pretty sure he can hear me, I think it soothes him.”
“Oh good, he loves your writing. And of course he can hear you, your father is still in there, we just need to give him time to wake up. Tatiana is the nighttime nurse, they have the sweetest southern accent.”
“Okay. Make sure to eat something when you get home. I bought you groceries and a nice bottle of red.”
“Oh what a nice treat, thank you Lily-Rose.”
Bending down to kiss your freckled forehead, I whisper in your ear:
“Beautiful man, wake up from your sleep. I need you. Lily-Rose needs you. Our love story is not finished yet, we have many chapters to go still.”
Photo by Mario De Biasi, Milan 1961