In kindergarten, Cody Peterson proposed to me on a passed note written in green crayon with backward letter r’s after pulling my hair. I responded with a timid peck on his chapped lips. I was bold, I was in love, and we shared the building blocks for the rest of the year until I found out that he was moving away to Florida, a sad surprise that finished our romance with the last day of school, Cody pressing a small eraser heart into my sticky palm.
Things are very different thirteen years and 2864 miles later. My aunts giggled and told me the night before I left for Yale that I’d most likely meet my husband there, that it was statistical. I rolled my eyes and said I didn’t believe in marriage. For the past eight years, I’d watched my parents unravel to the point where divorce seemed preferable. I had memories of sitting in the bathtub, chin tucked into my knees, rocking on my heels, trying not to hear the shouting, later emerging to find my mother sitting on the floor against their bed, sitting as I’d been, not saying a word while she sobbed. Yes, they’d sought out marriage counseling. Yes, it’d worked. Yes, they were still and forever in love. Regardless, I wasn’t about to doom myself to her misery.
But then I met Bobby. How we met doesn’t matter, just that we did. And that it terrifies me the way within six months he’s melted away all my defenses and instincts against an idea that to me represents an inevitable emotional prison. Not only that, but I’m nineteen. What do I know about love? And so every day I try to push him away a little bit more because I feel too young and too bewildered to do anything else because what do I know about the sort of love that makes two people want to jump without looking down, so long as they’re jumping together? Nothing, I say aloud. Everything, I think quietly.
Love is this thing that kept my parents together and all I know is that when I look into Bobby’s eyes in this I believe.
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