The first time we are six, maybe seven and I’m trying to impress her at the bottom of the sledding hill. She had tripped over her own feet in her big snow boots and hurt her ankle. I tried packing snow around her foot to ice it so it didn’t hurt. She smiled. Her brown hair is smattered with snowflakes, her face covered in freckles and red from the cold. I helped her up the hill when the bell rung.
I am ten. He is tall and smells like something I’ll never forget but can’t quite place. We hold hands secretly in class while taking notes and share a seat on the bus. We share earbuds and I feel lightheaded when he rubs my thumb with his.
I am fifteen. She is blonde and laughs a lot and I think she is gorgeous. We kiss in an empty parking lot in front of a ferris wheel. We kiss again before getting in the car, after ice cream, in the tent before we go to bed. She is sunshine and I feel alive.
I am sixteen and he is darker. He sings quietly as he plays guitar for me. We say I love you out loud on my couch after the school dance. We wonder about marriage, about traveling the world. His darkness seeps into the corners of me but I ignore the pain. We hold hands and have to sit often because he’s too cold and too thin. Saying goodbye feels a little like dying and living at the same time.
I am seventeen and I don’t realize it until it’s too late. It burns fast and bright and leaves me breathless. We smoke weed out of a glass elephant and fall asleep side by side and I feel electric. I look at him when he is looking away and want to reach out but I never do. He is beyond my touch and I have to let him go.
Jay Anderson is an 18-year-old poet whose poetry focuses on mental health, being queer, and gender.