“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.” – Joan Didion
I’m not really in the mood right now to be using words to express myself, surtout pas en ainglais, but my editor is riding me for more fashion. “More fashion!!!” she shrieks. Well I’ve been off at boarding school and we were denied Internet privileges after one of the proctors discovered one student was selling socks on Etsy. I’m nodding and opening Word, but on the inside I’m wondering what the point of any of this is.
What’s the good of fashion if, after a few torrid months en vogue, it changes into a completely different person who doesn’t love you anymore?
His hair. His walk. His smell. The memories come rushing back all at once.
Sanford was a true genius. Younger (Five? Five-and-a-half? I don’t want to remember), but with an old and tender soul. The way he mixed patterns was death-defying. He’d wear Keds with a Crew Cuts blazer and not even acknowledge how edgy, how brilliant that was. In kindergarten, he showed up to Picture Day wearing his overalls backwards. He was a natural; the only boy who could keep up with me.
It doesn’t matter. What we had is gone forever.
“I gotta go Florida,” he told me last November. “My dad gotta job and he gotta go Florida.” I was without words. Why can’t you just say you’re no longer attracted to me ever since I turned six? We dated from February of AM kindergarten all the way to Election Day of 1st grade; the least he could give me was an honest answer.
I smelled his L’Oreal Tear-Free shampoo and I knew it was him. I felt a chill run through me, as if I’d just finished a swim test in an unheated pool. I stammered out a “hello,” wondering if my winged eyeliner was uneven. In true Sanford fashion, he starts hopping in a circle, yelling “Hi Andréwa. I’m hungry!” He’s such a cypher. You never know what he’s thinking.
To me, he is a genius.
After exchanging pleasantries, it was my turn to order. I figured this was my chance to show off my trademark deadpan wit. I tossed my sectioned ponytail, and said, “Give me a coffee on the rocks.”
The barista responded, “Aren’t you a little young for caffeine?”
I could feel Sanford cringe. “Dad I want banana.” His dad said something about how they have bananas at home. “Daaaad! Banana!!”
Then, he started wailing and stomping on the ground. I could tell he hadn’t napped, perhaps not for days. “Wow,” I thought. “He’s a real goddamn mess.” I hope it’s just that he was trying to make me get over him by showing me what a psycho the world has made him. Really, it just made me miss him. His dark, mysterious damage is intoxicating. I’m addicted to his particular brand of disaster.
I gave him my youth. What did he ever give me? Besides a past-season Zoopet. I actually… I really like that Zoopet.
But for some reason, I can’t bring myself to let it all go.
I’m left with nothing but questions. Will I find someone to love by third grade? Will I find vintage YSL in grandmere’s closet? Will I find lice in the hat leant to me by Kyleigh M.? Who knows. One thing’s for sure: I’ll never find another Sanford.