Just about ten years ago now I started dating a man I'll call CML. Every so often, during the five years that we spent together, he would ask me about a faraway look he claimed I sometimes got: a look that seemed to lurk, he said, at the core of my being.
I always found it difficult to explain back then, but now, years after we parted ways, it's easier somehow to look back even further than him.
Cat, my CLM, is getting married this weekend.
When we were seventeen years old her name, those six lilting syllables, rolled through my thoughts like music.
Seventeen years later I am counting on both hands all the years that lie between now and our last meeting, and even then there are not enough fingers for the years between the end of our friendship and today.
It seems sometimes there are adolescent roads that cannot be followed together into adulthood.
We would head north on the Taconic in her truck, windows rolled down, fingers dangling cigarettes out into the oncoming night, shouting along to Cornflake Girl and Sober and Head Like a Hole.
Hers was the home I ran to when the chaos in my own felt sometimes like shards of glass.
We wrote on each others' arms and legs and clothes in Sharpie ("I was bored, you were bored, it was a meeting of the minds...").
We spent a year sleeping with the same man (though much to his disappointment never at the same time).
She was the first girl I ever kissed, the first person I ever cared about kissing.
She's the reason I've got this tattered old tattoo.
We got drunk for the first time together -- on a shared six-pack of Coors Light down at the lake late one spring night (bought for us by our friend Ben, who always looked older and never got carded).
She was the recipient of many a melodramatic teen-angst-filled letter.
There were times I wasn't sure either of us would make it to twenty, and yet here we are: grown women, thirty-four years old the both of us, and her a married lady.
It's funny the way we carry people with us: people who, despite years of silence and years of change, carry with them a sense of home we will never get over and never forget.
I am wishing her and her wife all the happiness I can muster which (somewhat to this jaded heart's surprise) is actually a lot.