You were always there.
You were sitting beside me constantly, in a big old white Lexus, on a hand-me-down couch, on a barstool. You were reaching into the backseat jumble of that car and unearthing potato chips. You were singing backup to my Chrissie Hynde, you were rapping the Eve part while I played Gwen Stefani in a weird fringed dress. You were there beside me as we drove down streets of endless white that winter we only listened to Regina Spektor because she felt the way we did then, as whimsical and dark.
You were my endless duet partner.
You were books of poetry and tortoise shells (you paid too much for them at the antique store) and cigarette butts scattered on the ground outside your house. You were the elusive shoe man at the thrift store, the one we thought was leaving you perfect vintage loafers in exactly your size at Goodwills and Savers all across Minneapolis.
You were nightly beer runs and stops at the Olive Garden in secret, you were my chauffeur and you were my prince charming. You were the flowers you brought me to apologize for giving me pinkeye. You were crumpled boxes of Parliaments – we found them everywhere! They were in coat pockets, garbage cans, school bags.
You were the tiniest, neatest handwriting. You were writing poems, stories, Korean homework, chemical formulas I didn’t understand. We were always writing, those few years. We were making everything we wrote into a love letter for the other. You were the column inches we had to hit, the Sundays of agonizing over one sentence for two hours, the papers marked up with red and with praise.
You were always present. You were the look I shot you when I wanted to leave, when my heart was just about to crack and split open on the floor of the Zombie Bar. You were an unspoken language that only we could share. You were the charmer of parents and aunts, the drinker of tequila shots in a small town bar that scared you not at all. You were breaking your back in a lab back in Rochester to spend three days back with me in the city that summer.
You were the steady hands on the wheel when the car lost its balance on the ice that day. I trusted you then completely, even as we spun and Loretta Lynn and Jack White sang on the CD. You were begging your dad for money so we could stay in that shitty motel that night, safely.
You were the magic I had yet to find in myself, and it took meeting you and falling in love with you to really come into it. The roots of magic start when you’re small, but they intensify when you meet someone who possesses that same spark. You did, and you do. Our friends always waited for us to bring that magic with us when we visited.
You were vetiver and cigarette smoke and black leather and expensive jeans and big black boots. You were estate sale prowling, where we unearthed even more treasures and built ourselves into caves of pretty things. We were always building those big caves around ourselves, but our grey days were never a match for our combined power. You were the neon yellow eggs we ate at Denny’s, but we were really there for the novelty anyway. We were silly songs and ten thousand mix CDs scattered over both of our cars, silly CDs with names like “God Help the Mister” that still manage to play.
It’s your birthday now, and even as we grow older and grow apart and then grow back again, I know that these are the things I’ll always think of when your name passes through my brain. Because you only meet your soul twin once or twice in your life, and all of their parts become part of you no matter how long you’re together. You’ll always be there.