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  • He's always been the kind of boy Dusty Springfield sang about; the son of a preacher man, gentle and sweet with a touch of the wicked. I loved him in that desperate way that teenage girls do. I wrote poems, lived to hear him play guitar, clung to his image. I kissed him in the backseat as our friends drove, held his hand as we ran through dirty festival grounds and tangled up in piles of straw. I fawned, I pined, I waited for him to fall in love with me.

    He didn't.

    Somehow he never knew. Maybe that's why we could keep on, as friends. Tangentially, at least: the love that filled the room when we got together could suffocate you, but we didn't get together that often, keeping up with each other through word of mouth, pictures on the internet, that special metaphysical gravity that develops with the people you love when you're young. Miles, states, coasts apart, we orbited the sun of shared history. Something shifted. We aligned again.

    Summertime, he came through my town for seven hours: ready, set, go. Lord, I'd missed him. Stealing kisses from me on the sly.

    Winter found me on a bus headed toward Baltimore and familiar arms. Taking time to make time. Twirl me, I said before I came. Show me your city.

    Teach me again is what I meant.

    Teach me again how to dive into love like I did back then. Teach me how to offer the back of my hand for a kiss, how to rest my hand on your chest before we kiss. Take my face into your hands and send lessons firing like sparks up and down my spine. Climb up on the roof and give me the sunset, flirt with the people selling food on the street. Dance with me while we wait for dessert, because they played your song and because we can. Decide this will be our anniversary, and remind me every year. Be wild and tender and romantic, then hold on to me tight, I'm leaving in the morning. Remind me how it can be. I'm leaving in the morning.

    He did.

    He plays bass now, mostly; upright, an instrument you embrace and coax notes from. His hands are still graceful and wise. He writes in verse, even if we don't call it poetry anymore. And he will forever, ever, ever reach me.
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