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Was it really?
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Remember the early days? Getting to know each other? Telling our stories? You talked so much more than I did. I feel like I learned all your stories the first week. The car accident, your wealthy roommate, the personal scholarship that paid for your education, your year in France, Claude Vognier who you found so sexy despite her chain smoking. You showed me the film about your family, told me about Wags the Dog and the salami ends that eventually killed him. I knew about your collections – baseball cards, pennies saved for you by the bus driver. You were the only guy I ever knew who kept scrapbooks full of personal mementos. You told me about the girls who formed your core of friends in high school and Pat Tanzosh who led you on but never put out. I felt broken hearted when you described your mother’s death when you were fourteen and thrilled to learn you won the NYC Science Fair at sixteen. You were an open book. Did you hold anything back?

I can’t remember much of what I told you. Other than my past boyfriends whose names you never forgot. You were as dismissive of my stories as you were of my friends. Like my life hadn’t started until you entered the picture. I wonder if you could imagine me without you? Or if you even cared to try.

It’s easy to look back and think we were lost souls in those days. But I’m not sure that’s true. We were embryonic, barely self-aware yet full of opinions and ideas. I was already teaching. It makes me shudder to think about my twenty-five year old self in front of a class of high schoolers. What the hell did I know? Yet I took it seriously and I remember discussing my students with you, planning class projects, bouncing ideas back and forth.

Remember Sadie back then? She was only a puppy when we met. Yet you loved her as much as I did, building her a house, painting her name in fire engine red on the front. You gave her dozens of nicknames. Ms. Manicotti, Petunia, Pigpen. You fished her out of the marsh when she ran after the big dogs, and carried her up the ladder so she could lay at your feet when you were projecting film society movies.

Remember the day at Ben and Jerry’s in Burlington? I know you do. We’d been together a couple of years at that point. I asked you if we were going to marry. You asked me what your options were. I said you could move out but you decided you’d prefer to get married. Another year went by before you brought it up again, and I was shocked that you’d actually bought a ring. And proposed for real – on the steps of Fairbanks Hall where we’d first met. It made perfect sense.

What do you remember about our years in Hoboken? Besides the evil landlady that is. Remember our weekends when we’d see at least two if not three movies? The years that I was teaching in Manhattan? I remember leaving for work early in the morning, kissing you goodbye while you sat at the editing machine in your underwear working on a scene. Ten hours later I’d return and you’d still be at the editing machine having donned a pair of jeans and a t-shirt at some point, an empty pizza box on the table. Did we talk or think about anything that wasn’t film related? Remember having friends over to see I, Leonardo when it was first aired? We bought a legitimate colored tv for the occasion.

Did we appreciate our freedom back then? Yeah, we worked and paid our bills but there was so much time, so many opportunities, so many adventures.

Sometimes I think of the epic kisses. Outside the darkroom at Fairbanks, when we found each other after being separated in San Francisco, at Chris and Dale’s cabin. Kisses that embodied everything we felt and everything we hoped for. My favorite will always be the wedding kiss when you cued the cello to play Comme Un Soleil as a surprise. I’ll never hear that song without feeling your lips on mine.

Remember when the kids were born and suddenly we were real grownups? When we were so tired we fell asleep with all the lights on, or the bottles boiling away on the stove. I use to wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if either of us had thought to feed Sadie.

I’m incredibly grateful we had all those years, that we made it work so well for so long. Yet, was it better when we were together? I truly wish that I could say it was.

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