I chopped off that hair after he, my first love, ended things. It's red now, three different shades; I've got a pierced nose and a tattoo and I've kissed more men than I can count. I'm no longer inhabiting the world in which this love was real, real and present and suffusing every moment. I'm in college now; that picture is older than I can readily believe. Most senior prom shots have a formal, frozen cant, all over-whitened smiles and arms that might as well be empty. Ours was almost too perfect. We might have been svengalis puppeteering a cardboard couple.
It was real, as much as the cynic brooding down inside me sneers otherwise. Sure, it ended for good reasons, and I started college as my own woman rather than someone else's girl. But time, they say, is what keeps everything from happening all at once. If that's true, then I think time must have stopped when that camera shuttered us immortal. All the joy in the world came bearing down on us.
We've lost it since, but we will always have had it then, and if string theory is to be heeded, somewhere it's still thriving, whether "somewhere" is abstract as my own flesh memory or solid as a corner of spacetime. No matter who else I love, how many others, how hard and fast and sloppy I love them, I will know that unity like this existed for one hot palpitating slice of memory. I will remember us, fuzzy in my eyelids at the edges of sleep, and think not I miss this so much but
we look so motherfucking happy.