I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. We were brought together on game night at a friend’s house behind the railroad tracks. I was wearing a tight color-blocked vintage sweater I had bought in Topanga Canyon. We played cards on the floor in a small Washington town, killing time being flirtatious, fearless and full of fear all at the same time. Was I 19? Maybe, but I felt as wise and awkward as I thought I’d always feel forever.

I volunteered to take Jonathan home but on the way I surprised him and drove us to the old library park. We got out and walked in the quiet warm dark night, under tall trees that I had played under since I was small; talking and laughing about all the things we both liked. I would have some of the most memorable nights of my life under stars and tree branches with Jonathan, but I knew nothing at this moment but the new magic and glow that comes so fast with swirling hearts. Forehead to forehead we kissed for the first time and at that exact moment the sprinkler system came on and we were sprayed on all sides, water whipping at our bodies we ran to the parked car, falling into childish perfect giggles.

A year later our affection had been tested, worn thin and raw like wearing an old sweatshirt on a sunburn. Jonathan and I met up at a friend’s party. We ignored each other for as long as a wait at a bus stop. We found ourselves outside on the front steps catching up, our mutual friends stepping over us as they came and went, giving us the eyes- you know the ones; the ones who’s eyes know you and know that maybe this is the worst idea to see these two people, sitting together in the dark, mostly alone. We bolted from their devastating judgmental glances to my car and drove to the old cemetery on the hill. Jonathan was dating someone new, I wasn’t. But that didn’t stop us from kissing each other, pressed against a large tree amongst the graves. He asked me if I wanted to run through that graveyard naked. He not so much asked but proclaimed with wild eyes and “yes” in his heart, “Why would the dead care?!” So we did even though he got more naked and ran farther than I did.

If you had told me that we would be slammed together by sadness, longing, and lust for one another again, I would have replied- Um. Yes. Of course. This time I was in a relationship with a man that wanted to marry me, that I was so different from, who wanted to change the way I dressed, and walked and talked. The only thing I remember having in common with Robert is that we both loved the Beatles. I was ripe and looking for distraction from this trashcan I had found myself living in like it was “love” and Jonathan called.

Under a sky so twinkling, so lit with the universal charity of stars, so close to diamonds on velvet that you could almost touch them, we sat in a tree over a swampy stream. Talking and kissing he reminded me who I was by just being who he was. He knew my heart and he held it with an angel’s protection. It wasn’t the first time but it would be the last time even though I didn’t know it then.

I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. I think he lives on the east coast in a city I’ve never been. I hope that he still laughs easy, reads voraciously, and shares his love and tender smart heart so generously.