1. The way she touches me when we haven’t seen each other all week, so gratefully.
It reminds me that I used to be alone all the time, that I’d never known anyone this kind before, that I’d dated women who cared more for their own fear than expressing their own love.
2. When she calls me “gargoyle boyfriend” because I make scary faces when we’re drinking wine all alone.
Her laugh at her own joke. Her face as her laughter fades.
3. When her cousin took me aside to tell me his entire family history.
When he confided to me about the impending divorce of his aunt. That he told me “the women in our family have always held it together.” His mother had died, the matriarch. I’d never seen him seem afraid before.
4. When my neighbor and I played doctor in her family’s barn as children.
She sort of acted like we weren’t even doing anything even though it was her idea. Years later, the first time I had sex, I thought of her and that still summer evening, the smell of dry hay, a flash of pink mystery that has lasted a lifetime.
5. Carlos in middle school.
How he was a year older than me and stood up for me, got in trouble with me, and refused to be forced into any race based cliques. We were friends, I don’t know what the rest were to each other and I don’t care.
6. S crying in my apartment over the death of her father 10 years previous, drunk as hell.
You stayed over nearly every night for months even though you had a boyfriend because you and I understood each other. I’m glad we never crossed the line and I’m still so sorry about your father. I’m thankful that you stopped drinking.
7. When her parents paid for our lunch despite me trying to.
The wonderful realization that their family was just like mine, hard working and reverent. Being invited later to a “celebration of Black marriage” ceremony despite being the only White man there. The way her father and pastor came up to me afterward and drew me in close to make sure I was comfortable.
8. That she lets me pull her hair every time.
9. When my scout brothers were Black and not well off just like me.
That we didn’t care. That we made each other strong and worked together and won every damned contest put in front of us. That the gay black boy in our troop was universally loved and cared about. That we still ask about him today.
10. When we think of our possible children I think abstractly about grafting a Sequoyah onto a Lion.
That we’re strong. That they’d be strong. That we have love.