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August 27, 2023

The Invention of Life


You’ve got to understand how it was with me and Mar, the way we were with one another, which wasn’t the way we were with anyone else in the world. In school, the pair of us were silent: we were like horses with bits between our teeth, trying to talk through our noses. When school let out we took the bus to Mar’s place and it was only when we were inside and the doors were locked that we started talking. We talked over and around each other, somehow catching all the words between us, getting it, bouncing one sentence off the other as Mar pulled jelly from the fridge and I got bread from the breadbox, both of us shedding clothes as we went, kicking off shoes, peeling off shirts to remove two layers of bras. Sometimes we would pound our fists into one another’s bare backs, trying to get at those deep knots.

It was alright when it was just the two of us. The trouble came out of the way other people treated us, treated our bodies, as if they were girlbodies, as if that actually means anything, as if there’s anything girlish about a girlbody aside from the fact that there’s a girl living in it, and there were no girls living in our bodies. When it was just us, we didn’t mind what we looked like. I think we loved our bodies, as much as any teenager can. We were into them. We were in them. We were strong. I could pick Mar up, screaming and flailing, and throw him over my shoulder like a fireman. We were rough and tumble with each other. Sometimes we made out, but it’s not like we were in love, though obviously and of course we were in love, but not like that, not in that way. It wasn’t romantic, it was just that we loved each other so much, so crazily, so singularly, and there was no one else we wanted to touch so it was me and him on the couch while his mother was still at work, and then we ate more jelly sandwiches and watched cartoons and talked shit about each other’s bodies in an exuberant, loving way that I’ve never had with anyone else in my life. That’s how we were.

You can see why I can’t talk to anyone about him. Sometimes I try and people will say, oh, I had a friend like that, and then I want to say, no you didn’t, no you don’t, shut the fuck up, no one else in the whole world was ever like us, we made that shit up, we were originals, we were one of a kind, we were the inventors of life, of our life, of the life of our species. But I know that whole thing about how different people in totally different parts of the world came up with the mousetrap at the same time, I know that other people in other places are and have been inventing life just the way we did, exactly the way we did, and in other ways, too. I can be rational. Only it still feels like someone’s ripping us off when they say, oh, I had a friend like that. Shut the fuck up. It was just us in the whole wide world. We broke the goddamn mold.