My boy was perfect. Muscular and dark, he could do a backflip and lift me up with one arm to put me wherever he wanted on the kitchen counter.
He was the first person I loved. I had been with one boy before, but it was a sad and damaged relationship with two sad and damaged children that resulted in pressure and confusion.
After that, my boy was all light and love, like a cleansing rain after a life of electric heartbreak. He was it. We felt it, we knew, and we wondered if we were the happiest we would ever be. We lay in the grass and counted the stars. Then, I had to move away.
My life, my plan dictated to me by my family and my class and my race, said you must move beyond boy. You must go, no, run, to a life where there is more money and power, more accomplishment, less brown. Go, before you get trapped in this sand pit! Hurry, away!
I tried not to listen. For years I tried. But me with my oscillating whims, life with the pressures, distance with the miles, was too much to combat. I was left alone with a bitterness that said, “If the world was a better place, you could have been together.” It said, “If boy was a different color, it might have been okay.” A small, incriminating voice said, “If boy was a different color, might you have treated him differently? Taken him more seriously? Been willing to hold on just an increment tighter?”
I saw boy again, many years later, and I still loved him just as much. His eyes twinkled over his beer and his hug was kind and forgiving. And I still felt the pressure of the world that would raise its eyebrows, saying, “Him? Really?” I felt sorrow and sick.
I left again to go pursue my advanced degree, alone, in a world that doesn’t value what I value, which is love, which is incidentally boy, to me. Alone, I keep loving people that look like variations of boy, who sound like boy, who have the same personalities as boy, in casings different and more palatable to those that raise their eyebrows. And I wonder if any of them will stick as tight and as fast as boy did.
I forgive myself because I know that the blessing of love is sometimes easier to do without when faced with the exhausting mandate to forge a life of duality and inclusion in a world of judgment that cares for nothing but the bottom line. It’s been done before, time and time again. But not by me, yet. Against it is a discrete force, and I am human and less strong than I would hope and scared. I used to cry, many years ago, thinking about how I wouldn’t know how to style our children’s hair.