A Love Letter
Here’s what I know: life is short and life is long. Allow me to explain.
In the sense that life is short, I need to tell you right now that I love you. Crazy because in many ways you’re not my ideal, not even close, and I couldn’t care less. It doesn’t matter! What you have is much greater than my mind could ever conceive. Lady, you’ve got pizzazz!
But life is long, too, and I understand that no sudden changes need to be made yet. Life has to run its own course. This might seem shocking coming from a thirteen-year-old, but I assure you I have given this ample thought. I understand all the obstacles. You’re married, for one thing, and if I remember correctly, you have two daughters, Kelly and Kim (?), and a son named Jake in the military. And I have not yet even embarked on my high school career. In the coming four years I will have quite a bit of homework to do, not to mention chores, and my mother has imposed upon me a strict ten o’clock curfew. Believe me, I have tried to sway her with all my considerable powers of charm and rhetoric. She is a rock, unmovable. “Give it a rest, buster,” she says. “You better be in by ten or no TV.” It is an effective hard line position. The good news is that you work afternoons, a choice two-to-five shift, and have I failed to mention how lovely you always look in that reflective orange vest? I rarely, if ever, think of you as a “crossing guard.” You move like a dancer. You blow your whistle like an angel.
True, I am impulsive, and some say it is this quality that makes me charming, but I am also patient and cunning. I need you to know that I am here, waiting— waiting and watching. Your husband is a burly man with a tragic sense of fashion and a hurried air, but in him I recognize a worthy foe. He will not let you go without a struggle. He climbs in and out of his minivan with the nimble prowess of a Big Ten linebacker, one who can both rush the passer and cover a halfback in the flat. And yet I cannot arrest my true feelings, lock them up in that dank prison called “repression,” and dump them overboard while nobody’s looking on the Staten Island ferry, like so much illegal medical waste! Maybe I’m not being clear.
Lover, I understand the logistics of compromise. If, for now, we must share only eleven seconds together each day, as you shepherd me gracefully across the street, then so be it. We have had that time, and for that I should be grateful. If I were never to see you again, I would cherish the memory of our encounter yesterday, the way you spread your arms protectively, shielding me from oncoming traffic, as I bent once again over my untied lace. I have a confession: I loosened my laces beforehand, on Carroll Street, to have a few more seconds with you. Yesterday, when I looked up at you, the sun hovered over your shoulder, illuminating your dark hair, and exposed the silhouette of your neck. I fumbled with my lace. At that moment my hands were like lobster claws—not in shape, of course, or even color for that matter, but in their usefulness. They were useless! And when you said, “Hurry up, for Christ’s sake. What’s your problem, kid?” I nearly wept with joy. I knew, then, that I loved you.
“Ever heard of Velcro?” you said with a harsh laugh, and to me it was poetry.
At night, alone in my bed, I wonder: Are you chaperoning me across the street? Or am I taking you to the other side? What would your life be like without me? I don’t want to say that it would be empty and meaningless and full of drudgery, because I know that you are bright and energetic. You can find many hobbies to pass the time. Maybe you like to burn things, sage, incense, and various aromatic candles. Your personal life is, I admit, none of my business. But remember these words. I am here. And I can only cross the street with you so many times. One day I will have to keep walking. But when that time comes, I promise to stop at the next corner. I will turn and wave. “Thank you,” I will say. “I am safe. Are you?”
You will not hear me say these words, of course, because I’ll be like three hundred feet away, at least, and I’ll probably only mouth the words anyway, because it would be silly to say them aloud and strangers would stare at me, but know that I have said and meant them. Remember me, darling. To you, I was probably one of hundreds, another face passing by your corner. But you are my only one.