He started out on the periphery of my life. He appeared in my dorm as a freshman, a mop of frizzy curls atop a lanky frame that always seemed to riding a bike, even in rain, even in snow. I often passed him on my way to the library, with my New York Times and my legs clad in black cotton.
I can't say I knew him then, I knew of him really; we lived in the same dorm, we attended the same parties, our best friends dated each other.
But I don't remember ever speaking to him during our years at the same college.
A few years later, he became an acquaintance, someone to invite to my flat's dance parties, or to meet up with at our college's events for recent grads in our city.
We started swing dancing together.
Then club dancing together.
Somehow we started calling each other up and chatting about our lives.
(Including our love lives.)
He asked me out, but I was seeing someone else. We stayed friends.
He started saving my beloved New York Times Sunday Magazine for me, since I couldn't get it delivered at my apartment - it was always stolen, no matter how early I woke up to retrieve it. My best friend from college, who knew him too, came to visit and raised her eyebrows knowingly at the stack of magazines he carefully handed over.
I went away on a long trip and dreamed about him. I dreamed he was my boyfriend.
I set out to make him mine.
He became mine. I became his.
Then he was my world. I thought of him all the time, every moment seemed so clearly marked: I was either With Him or Waiting To Be With Him Again.
We made a life together.
We made a home together. (Several homes, by now.)
We made a family together.
We got very, very busy.
I woke up and suddenly felt him on the periphery, again.
His lanky bod is still topped with curls. My legs are still clad in black stretch cotton. That is about all that is the same.
He puts hair goop in to tame the frizz, and rides off in his low gray car. I wave my hand goodbye and help a tiny hand next to me wave too and I don't see him for many hours.
My time now seems divided into time With Kids and Time Away.
Time Away Alone.
Watching 51 Birch st. together the other night, we started out apart, in our usual spots: him on one side of the couch, laptop on his lap, me on the floor, stretching my hips. By the end, we were intertwined, in a way we hadn't been in too long: fingers and knees and arms linked in the way you are when you are coming together, away from the periphery.
(Go. Watch 51 Birch St. and prepare to be moved. And possibly intertwined.)