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Archive for June, 2011

Something that flat startled the hell out of me, several months into our relationship, was finding out that Jim is nearly two years my junior. I’m coming up on twenty-four my next birthday (which granted isn’t until September), and he’s coming up on twenty-two. Our birthdays are only ten days apart, which is convenient for someone with an awful memory for dates, and that’s all I knew for a while. All evidence suggests that this must not be true, since we met on OKCupid, which lists your age, but all the same; I remember being totally floored when I found out he was so much younger. I tend to automatically assume that anyone who doesn’t have gray hair or baby fat is essentially my age, and treat them as such. Jim and I are at parallel stages in life, and we’re stupidly happy; it’s only when someone points out that he’s my brother’s age, and I’m his sister’s, that it becomes in any way relevant.

This is what you might call a trend—and not just with partners and lovers, but with all different kinds of people in my life.

My best friend since I moved to Westford (not where I live, but essentially where I’m from) is someone I met as a very young child, the summer before I turned nine. We both have extremely vivid memories of meeting each other with our mouths full of blackberries and my hair in my eyes; we were pretty much inseparable for the next ten years. She tells me that when I went to college, she felt lost–I did too. You spend your life with someone, and then move, and there’s a big empty space where they were, a quiet spot in your day where before you talked for two hours at the barn. The thing about Meg—who I love, who became my sister—that always amuses me in a low-level way is that she is well over two years younger than I am. That means she was, when we met, six. Six and almost-nine is a big difference at that age–I’m not sure I even noticed. I have no memory of ever thinking about it, until I moved up to middle school or high school or college, and she was left behind.

I am not a stranger to leaving people behind.

When I was in Australia, I met Jory in the flesh.  I actually met Jory online a number of years ago; he was one of the most established people on the forum we were both on, incredibly well-spoken, very smart, very thorough. When we met up, in the Melbourne zoo in August of my Junior year, I wasn’t real clear on what Jory looked like, having never seen a picture and not actually knowing what a quoll (the stuffed animal he said he’d be carrying) looked like. I spent the first five minutes walking through the zoo, peering at all the people around my age, or very slightly below it–and so was deeply disconcerted to encounter a small and obviously much younger person grinning and swinging a spotted rat-like toy by the tail.

At that point, Jory was still a teenager. I was just about to turn twenty-one, only a few weeks shy. Our experiences to that point were continents and countries apart, because between your late teens and early twenties—between highschool and college—is sometimes this yawning gap where you do an enormous amount of growing up.  We should not have had much to say to each other. The ensuing visit with his family should have been awkward. I should not have come back to their house again and again, should not have attended birthday parties, slept over, memorized the walk from Glen Waverly to his house—

And yet. But still. Because in not very long at all, I was reaching out to hold Jory’s hand in the dark as we talked about all the things you can’t say during the day. I remember that grip so vividly, so viscerally—in that moment, there weren’t years between us, there were two exhausted, lonely, shaken young adults who needed to hold someone’s hand, who needed a lifeline.

…I have a friend right now is quite literally old enough to have birthed me; in a few more years, I’m sure I’ll haves ones young enough to be my kids. (Give me time, I’m only twenty three.) Because when I fall for someone, as a partner or as a friend—and don’t let anyone fool you, all good friendships involve falling a little bit in love, the same way all good partners are also your friend—I forget everything about them except the things that made me love them in the first place.

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