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For C.B.

I remember the panic of $80 Ubers. Two feet of snow on the roads. Not wanting to overstay even though you’d invited me to spend a second night. “Tell me what you want,” you said, in that matter-of-fact way of yours, which I appreciate because it forces me to be more direct. I wasn’t ready to leave, and told you so.

I remember the morning light glow. Earl grey in bed. The way you leaned your body across my lap and curled around me. Long spine like a comma. I remember how you cooked every meal all weekend when we thought it would just be dinner on our third date. I remember tater tacos for breakfast by candlelight. Ambiance in an otherwise unremarkable kitchen at odds with your perfect Mid-Century living room. Orange and brown angular furniture. Ashtray full of matchbooks.

I remember the firsts. Slow dancing among your antiques. Laughing at your dresser full of socks. Learning you’d never been in love—which I couldn’t help but take as a challenge. I remember watching through the crack in the bathroom door as you combed and gelled your hair into place before it dried, hating the unpredictability of your curls.

I remember the big cat documentary, and your amusement that I, a vegan, rooted for the carnivores—not the antelope: “I’m learning your pathologies,” you said and kissed the top of my head. I remember your teeth in my stomach, gentle first then deeper. Deeper as I moaned. When we first migrated from Tinder to long chains of texts, you said your days of hurting people were over. But I remember when you growled, “I fucking love biting you.”

I remember the lasts. Our final breakfast, discussing how neither of us could recall the last time we’d shared five consecutive meals with someone else. Had even wanted to spend so much time with another person. Our final snuggle to ease the transition into solitude. How the white sheets unfurled like snow banks around us. I had to pee so bad, but knew as soon as I detangled my body from yours, it would be over. So I held on for another five minutes. And then another. When I finally called my car, you said, “Get the fuck out of here.” I knew you were deflecting with humor, but it still kind of hurt because I felt so tender, so opened to you.

I remember the crunch of snow under tires almost made me cry, despite the sunshine. How you texted me, “Honestly coulda stayed in Shangri-La a bit longer,” and then told me about your childhood dog. Whenever your family went on a trip, she’d romp around for hours and hours with a pack of other pups boarded at the sitter’s. She loved it there. After your family brought her back home, she’d spend the whole day just staring out the window and sighing, staring out the window and sighing, staring out the window and sighing… We knew exactly how she felt.