Sitting near each other, in the front seats of his car, we talked. He made a joke. I laughed and swished my ponytail over my shoulder. He smiled. Our hands linked, seemingly casual, inwardly thrilling. I asked how his day went at work. He told me. We talked, and we smiled. Our hands were linked, growing sweaty, fingers twined, and as we talked, we adjusted to hold each other’s hands more tightly, squeezing to show “I like being here, with you.” Fingers interlaced, we tarried.
When you’re crying, and you’re a boy, I suppose it must be something you’re supposed to hide. My boyfriend has cried on my shoulder. And I know it wasn’t easy for him to know that someone else had seen him cry, but I knew as he held me tight and sniffed into my neck and I rubbed his back that it was good for him, and that he needed this, and that I loved him. I’ve cried with him many times, but this was something new; there was some new affection in the strength of his embrace, a new intimate knowledge. And when he was done, he asked me if I was okay. Is that some quality of love? To want to make sure the other is all right even though it’s you who is sad? (I said, “Of course I’m okay. I’m taking care of you.” And he squeezed me and said in that broken voice into my shoulder, “I love you.”)
Sometimes it feels like a relationship is made of smiles. And then again as I stand in the shower at home I’ll think it’s built of trust. Or time with each other. Or loyalty. But some days it feels like the threads that make up the fabric of us are laughter. Once we were with each other, eating candy, reading. And we started pronouncing all our words wrong, becaush it wash funny. “If you tickle me one more time I’ll shend you shtraight to your mama for a shpanking.” “Oh yeah? I’d jusht love to shee you try!” The laughter bounded off the walls of the car, and the giggles took a long time to die down, and even when they did they kept coming back for visits. And about that fabric . . . on further reflection, I’m sure it’s made of many different types of thread. All woven together. All interlaced, like the fingers of our hands.
Have you not felt it? Roiling in your stomach, blushing in your face, flashing on the insides of your eyelids at night? Love is built of half smiles, of tiny finger squeezes, of gazing, of the delicate way his lips brush against each other as he asks you a question, of little things and big things, of hands interlaced.
The world tells me that young love doesn’t last forever. But my heart tells me it will. So I let the debate go on between the world and my heart. So I’ll see who wins. I hope the loser will graciously accept defeat.