What We Talk About When We Talk About Us

Sally,

As I feel the grip of your hand in mine loosen, suddenly, eleven years is not so long.

If we have another eleven, it will barely be enough to fit the weight of our dreams. And those dreams! We truly are God’s favorites to have the privilege of actively designing a life in which we prioritize us, this thing that began when we were fifteen and ages in surprising ways. 

Fifteen-year-old me would be shocked at who I have become – practically a heathen – but I hold that she would be proud that I kept the one good thing from that time. It is her that I thought of when you told me you needed to lightly extricate yourself from me so you could figure out parts of yourself without having your vision blurred by my presence. 

I want you to know that I have the same fears about you that you have about me. They say that in love there is no fear, but it seems to me that a person who does not nurse some anxiety about losing the thing they love has not loved deeply enough. I have seen what time can do to a friendship whose roots seemed too far underground to allow any danger to seem real. 

But this is what life is. As we transform, so do our relationships. And growth often hurts. You have to know that I am proud of you for identifying and pursuing what you need, even when that means demarcating where you end and where I begin. My reading tells me that, originally, platonic love was a love that inspired noble pursuits, that brought one closer to the divine, that brought out the best in those participating in it. By this definition, I would say that our relationship is working quite well.  

Today, when people talk about platonic, they mean just friends. ‘Just’, because a friend stands on a lower rung than a romantic partner. 

But being your best friend has taught me that romance exists anywhere we mean it to. Flowers, dates, conversations until the sky turns light, love letters, playlists, gifts, love presented as food, vulnerability that splits the heart clear in two – haven’t we done it all? How delightful the intimacy, the intensity of loving and being loved by you.

So I tend to our dreams: a nice little house, a garden and a couple of pets, laughing at 4:00 am when we have to participate in capitalism the next day, drinking wine and singing along to gospel music on Friday nights even though I haven’t set foot in a church in years. 

I enjoy this idea of platonic romance. What a reimagining. Even as I recognize that you and I will navigate this new phase of our lives differently, I’m excited to navigate it with you. We can craft a relationship that resists definition beyond our own expectations of each other. A queerplatonic relationship, a platonic life partnership, a romantic friendship, a union of soulmates … by any other name is just as sweet. And against uncertainty, I continue to anticipate the manifestation of our dreams, in this life and the next.

Love,

Michelle

“[If we married,] you would have to come first. And you could not, for she comes first.”

~Enid, Diana Victrix~


Bio: Michelle Chepchumba is a writer and editor. She is the author of Notes Under the Door and Other Stories and co-author of When a Stranger Called and Other Stories. She writes a weekly newsletter called The Mini-Scroll (https://t.co/8JyZWNyKs0?amp=1) about unrushed creative living. Her Twitter handle is @chepchumba_m.

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