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My dearest love, my absolute dearest love, I am sorry. I am sorry for abandoning you, sorry that these last weeks have been wrought with anger and focused on my selfishness. You are right of course; I am totally being selfish. But you were wrong about my feelings, Alex. You have always been my everything: my lover, my closest friend, the family who would never abandon me. And now I am abandoning you. I am so desperately sorry, darling.
On a hunch my mother came out into the hallway and found me, faced into a corner and munching away at the remainder of the toast. It was a heavenly meal, forbidden toast. Of course, Mom was angry at first but then burst out laughing at how cute it was for a five-year-old to be hurriedly munching a piece of toast knowing that it was something he wasn’t supposed to do. Toast, forbidden. How absurd.
Then it was time for me to repeat everything I’d told the officers. Having them hanging on my words had been heady, but facing a courtroom full of rapt listeners was almost too much. I’d never had so many people look at me at once. I wanted to hide. Only the knowledge the Carla had to listen to me for a change kept me talking.
My first indication that this lovely theory was just so much wishful thinking came when she was two, and we were on a field trip to the state capitol building. We were climbing this beautiful marble staircase, which had a lovely marble railing supported by marble columns with–oh-oh–spaces in between where a child could look out and down and see just how much farther away the floor was getting with each step. Her steps slowed, then stopped. I tried the ignore-it bit, urging her to come along like she was just an ordinary dawdling child. We did finally get her to the top of the staircase by switching her over to the center railing where the view was mostly other steps and people’s legs. We took the elevator back down.
To be completely fair to my parents, it simply never occurred to them that they might actually have to TELL me not to climb the tower. Who might have thought that a five-year-old would suddenly get a yen to see the tops of the trees? It never occurred to me either that this long-abandoned windmill tower set behind the main house on our eight-cabin resort on Second Crow Wing Lake was anything but just another thing in the landscape….
There was a new problem to deal with. Waiting at the end of the farm road, blocking our access to the highway, was a police car. The lights weren’t on, so we weren’t sure if he was waiting for us or not. We were not going to be able to avoid scrutiny. As we approached the road he hit his siren button and his lights button and so I knew we were going to be “interviewed.” I stopped the car and politely waited for him to approach us. In the meantime I was reaching for my wallet to show him my driver’s license. I looked over at Mark and mouthed the words “Fourth Amendment.” He knew what this meant. Don’t say anything incriminatory.
I ran over and made myself look big so that cars coming down the street would notice us and not run us over. He was now on his side convulsing heavily and continuously. His convulsing was causing his head and neck to whip around, so I got down and held his body in place so he would damage himself less. Two people who had walked out of a local store and did not see the accident came over and yelled at me.
“Leave him alone!” one of them screamed at me.
“He’s an epileptic! He’s just having an epileptic fit! Don’t treat him like he was sick or something.”
The traveler was a college-educated westerner with a late-Victorian attitude about Africans. The idea that all Africans are at least a little subhuman would have been a starting point for him. Throwing in a tribe here and there with especially cannibalistic or otherwise uncouth tendencies would be typical. Running into a group of individuals that looked to him almost like a separate species would be notable, and he did in fact make note of it, but this would be something he would take in stride.
Greggy’s family wasn’t rich. His dad was a highway patrolman and his mom was a nurse. With five kids, they often had to make do with what money they could spare, and Greggy didn’t have spending money very often. I was okay with sharing with him from my allowance whenever we went to the store to buy candy, because he was a good friend. So it was a surprise to me one summer afternoon when he told me that his mom had given him $20 to cut the grass. The most I had ever earned from cutting the grass was $5, and our backyard was much larger.
Which brings me right up to the present. Since I mention my first girlfriend, I will also mention my last girlfriend, Amanda. There are a number of things that I’ve always liked but no one that I was “with” (as it were) also liked, or at least, such things were not important to them. For instance, I’ve always wanted to own a Subaru. No one I was “with” ever wanted a Subaru, so that never happened. Amanda strongly prefers Subarus. So now we have a couple of them. How cool is that?
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