Do you remember Shannon Arkers? She says that you knew each other when you were at University.
She’s become someone to me.
The other night, we were sitting around, and I told her about you and Dante.
“It must have been something to have been a child in a home with such an epic love,” she said.
I responded that it was just normal to me. We laughed, because everything that was “normal” to me–a werewolf best friend, a plant baby brother, an imaginary friend (plus her little sister) turned real, a vampire ghost for my mom’s boyfriend, moonlight tea parties with zombies, 325 days of precipitation a year–all that I took for granted as part of a “normal” childhood is, actually, now that I think about, it, really quite wonderful and strange!
But I don’t know any other way.
“So it’s no wonder that you would fall for a crazy old rebel crone like me,” Shannon said.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Gotta find my normalcy somewhere.”
But it feels epic, Mom, what Shannon and I share. It’s become the focal point of my college experience.
I watch her, and I feel like I understand what I want out of life, who I want to be. I mean, I don’t want to be Shannon, of course. I want to keep being me. But the thing is, Shannon shows me how to be through the whole course of my life. I don’t have to give up who I am when I “grow up.” In fact, Shannon says that she never says “grow up” or “grow old.” Always, just simply, grow.
Do you know that Shannon’s never had a lover before? I was looking forward to hearing her stories of epic love, but she told me this was it.
She’s an aro-ace, Mom, but I bet they didn’t use that term back when you were in college. It just means that she’s aromantic and asexual, which means that she’s not into romantic gestures and she’s not sexually attracted to others, male, female, or trans.
I asked her, “Then what’s this you share with me? And why now?”
She said it’s love. Plus, she wanted to try everything in her life, and if she were going to fit in this type of relationship, she’d better do it now or never!
I think it’s pretty amazing that we are each other’s firsts.
She’s so non-flirty it’s funny. Like the other evening, we went out to eat, and I was feeling romantic, so I was giving her lines. I mean, they were true, and they were how I felt, but they were also romantic lines, like what you might read in a Valentine’s card.
And she started laughing. “You can’t believe that people fall for the moonlight crap, can you?” she said. We both cracked up so hard. I mean it spoiled the mood, but it also created its own mood, which was pretty fun in its own way.
Then the next night, she surprised me with red roses.
“Is this how it’s done?” she asked.
It meant more to me, coming from her when I know she’s not naturally thinking about roses unless they’re growing in a garden for snails and slugs to munch on.
We have the most fun when we’re just hanging out together. She says the wildest things and she’s got the best stories.
She told me about a time when she occupied the quad for three weeks in protest of a rule banning women from trying out for the rugby team. She won, and everyone thought she’d try out. It was years before any women did try out, and more years before any of them made it. I asked her why she did it. “Stupid rules,” she said. “I can’t bear to belong to any organization that has stupid rules.”
She said you were the same way, and she told me about a time when you’d led a successful protest against harsh grading, all so that Shea, who didn’t have the cultural concept of possession, wouldn’t fail his papers for not using possessive apostrophes.
Seeing you and Dante, Mom, I always knew I wanted to have a Big Love. I never used to dream about what it would look like, and whether I’d have a prince or princess in shining armor. I just focused on the feeling. You know what I mean: the feeling of home.
I wish you’d been around to see me off to college, Mom. Wish you were still around to actually get these letters I write to you, instead of me tying them up with string and sticking them in the shoebox I keep under my bed.
I think–at least, I hope–it’d bring a smile to you to know that your daughter had been paying attention to your lessons in love.
Miss you, always. Love you, forever.