We connected precisely because we knew this moment demands a different sort of love. The “usual” markers of how love progresses, how you get to know someone, didn’t exist. We didn’t go on dinner dates, we didn’t go to the movies, we didn’t explore the city. We sat on my roof and talked about loss, about grief. We cried, we raged, we kissed, we made love.
There was nowhere to show off this love, nowhere to let my friends gather and meet the person I’d fallen for. At times that made it all feel unreal, impossible. But isn’t that what love is? A tenuous and hopeful holding on, a secret scaffolding of desire that even when public can never be truly known, only trusted to hold you up.
He always was going to leave. New York wasn’t his home, and he had to return. “In another life, a parallel world, I can imagine me and you together forever,” he told me before he left. It hurt so much at the time — like it was splintering the world we’d made from the world around us — that we could be together only in an alternate dimension. Why not this life, why not this world?
But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to embrace that way of thinking. After all, no two people can be together forever in this world. So why not let our love live on?
That world in which we are together forever is nestled just next to this one, running alongside it, seeping in occasionally, but with an orbit all its own. It’s a world in which we touch and celebrate our love, celebrate what we built together. It’s not an alternate reality, but the persistence of connection that exists in whatever shape the world asks you to love.
Shelby Lorman (@sdlorman), a writer and cartoonist, is the author of “Award for Good Boys: Tales of Dating, Double Standards, and Doom.”
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