Apr. 14th, 2010

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When I was thirteen years old, I fell in love forever.

His name was Gerald, which is funny now but back then it seemed very sophisticated and demure for a thirteen year old boy, and I was far more concerned with being demure and sophisticated at thirteen than I am at twenty six. He was a sweet boy with eyes like the hue of freshly tilled soil and hair like all the winds over the harvest fields, it I may quote the relevant diary. Which seems to indicate that his eyes were dirt black and his hair was invisible and made your car all dusty. Um! Actually, he was a very nice farm boy with dark eyes and white-blond hair with a little streak of Kool-Aid dyed pink, because even nice farm boys have their rebellious sides.

Gerald drew pictures and looked at the stars. I did what Gerald did.

When he brought out his telescope, I oriented the star maps and waited my turn to look at the moon, which was really the only cool thing you could see from his cheapo scope anyway; the only thing his telescope did for the stars was let you see more tiny little white points of light. And tiny white points of light were nothing compared to the luminous silver-violet magic of the full moon.

When he drew, I drew with him, each in our own little notebooks (his had a picture of a skateboard with day-glo fractals on the cover, mine had a picture of a baby harp seal in outer space). He drew elaborate spaceships, laser cannons and aliens. I drew pictures of my cat, mostly.

One day, I passed my notebook to Gerald to show him my drawing of how my cat sometimes slept (on her back, with her paws flopped over her chest) because I thought it was really cute. He immediately started to page through my notebook, stopping for a few minutes when he got to a page that had words instead of pictures. He started laughing. I was kind of mad, but I didn't say anything. Then he said, "Cat, we should make a comic or something. You write and I draw." He didn't really say it like a question at all; he didn't really ask, but I didn't mind because of course I wanted to make a comic with the boy with hair like all the winds over the harvest fields.

So we did. It was something about time traveling killer whales and pirates teaming up to stop Christopher Columbus from discovering America. I don't know why they wanted to stop Christopher Columbus, it was never explained in the comic and I don't think either of us really knew.

When I was thirteen years old, I fell in love forever.

We broke up a few months later, and we barely acknowledged each other for the entire rest of our school years. He moved across the country to go to a college in Washington and I haven't talked to him since.

I still have the comic, but I haven't looked at it since we broke up.

I imagine it covered with ashes for a millennium. Archeologists will find it someday, dig it up like Pompeii and marvel at the tokens of that weird space between my girlhood and womanhood --Lisa Frank cosmetic bags and candy flavored Lip Smackers, Seventeen and Sassy magazines that I never really liked. Like earthenware pots or the remnants of an ancient irrigation system. Like a message from yesterday.

But when those archeologists come, and the anthropologists and historians behind them, I hope they don't forget. The girl with the room full of unicorn posters and an extensive scratch and sniff sticker collection didn't make that comic about killer whales and pirates.

She made it with the boy she fell in love with forever, who plastered his walls with posters of Cameros, Cindy Crawford and the solar system.

And she made it with the boy she fell in love with forever because she was too shy to say she thought she had a better idea --one that didn't have anything to do with stupid Christopher Columbus. And she was too shy to say she had a better idea because she'd learned to be a polite girl. And she'd learned to be a polite girl because that was how ladies behaved, day after day after century. Just as Gerald learned to love spaceships because his dad was an amateur science fiction writer and it was okay to like spaceships if you're a boy.

For better or worse, there is a comic in a box in my closet that I will probably never look at again.

For better or worse, I will love Gerald forever.

Because he, as every single person I've ever spoken with or commented to or emailed or even waved to on the street, are a part of me. Because I am not me, I am an inseparable whole of my experience, just as you are of yours.

Earthenware pots and silly comics are infinitely greater than the artifact you can hold in your hands. Should I ever dig up a Pompeii myself, I will try to remember that.

This post brought to you by [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol and the letters P and Q.


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