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239 pages, Paperback
First published August 27, 2013
We think of the boys we kissed, the boys we screwed, the boys we loved, the boys who didn’t love us back, the boys who were with us at the end, the boys who were with us beyond the end. Love is so painful, how could you ever wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?
Actual rating is 4.5 stars -- We gather the things we learned, and they don't nearly add up to fill the space of a life. You will miss the taste of Froot Loops. You will miss the sound of traffic. You will miss your back against his. You will miss him stealing the sheets.
Do not ignore these things.
Enough time had gone by that when they started kissing again, the electricity was gone, replaced by something closer to architecture. They were kissing with a purpose, but the purpose wasn’t them; it was the kiss itself. They weren’t using the kiss to keep their love alive, but were using their friendship to keep the kiss alive. First for minutes. Then for hours.
Nobody is watching as Peter and Neil kiss. It is just a quick kiss as they leave the IHOP, before they head home. It is a syrupy kiss, a buttery kiss. It is a kiss with nothing to prove. They don’t worry about who might see, who might pass by. They’re not thinking about anyone but themselves, and even that feels like an afterthought. It is just a part of who they are together, something that they do.
It is not as simple as Ryan looking at Avery and feeling they’ve known each other forever. In fact, it doesn’t feel like that at all. Ryan feels like he is just getting to know Avery, and that getting to know Avery isn’t going to be like getting to know anyone else he’s ever gotten to know.
His mind is on fire now, and it will be hours until it cools itself back into the right temperature for sleep. He is angry at his father, angry at his mother, but mostly he’s come to feel that all this was inevitable, that he was born to be a boy who must sleep in his car, that there was no way he was going to make it through high school without being caught. He feels he’s been soured by his own desires, squandered by his own impulses. He despises himself, and that is the flame that sets his mind on fire.
We did not have the Internet, but we had a network. We did not have websites, but we had sites where we wove our web. You could see it most in the cities. Even someone as young as Cooper, as young as Tariq, could find it. Piers and coffee shops. Sports in the park, and bookstores where Wilde, Whitman, and Baldwin reigned as bastard kings. These were the safe harbors, even when we feared that being too open meant we were opening ourselves to attack. Our happiness had defiance, and our happiness had fear. Sometimes there was anonymity, and sometimes you were surrounded by friends and friends of friends. Either way, you were connected. By your desires. By your defiance. By the simple, complicated fact of who you were.
We were once like you, only our world wasn't like yours. You have no idea how close to death you came. A generation or two earlier, you might be here with us.
We resent you. You astonish us.
We gather the things we learned, and they don't nearly add up to fill the space of a life. You will miss the taste of Froot Loops. You will miss the sound of traffic. You will miss your back against his. You will miss him stealing the sheets.
Do not ignore these things.