ELLE (Canada) - - Anniversary - BY JJ LEE

ne night you will find your­self run­ning across town.... The snow is fall­ing, and you marvel at the steam of your breath. You are some­how acutely aware that you are young and alive. It’s like that penul­ti­mate scene in When Harry Met Sally (which, now that I think of it, you won’t see for a few more years but, trust me, it’s awe­some). You run, and your heart is pound­ing. Not be­cause you’re run­ning— you’re just a kid, and I note with jeal­ousy that right now you can still run for­ever—but be­cause your heart aches. Your heart wants to ex­plode out of your chest.

You knock on the door and she an­swers. She knew you were com­ing. You were just on the phone with her eight min­utes ago, and that phone still dan­gles just as you left it when you took off run­ning. What you have to say to her you have to say in per­son. She must know this too be­cause she’s an­swer­ing the door, isn’t she?

Her mom and dad are home, so she throws on a duf­fle coat. She looks like a char­ac­ter from a fairy tale. You look up and see flakes fall­ing be­tween the bar­ren tree branches and danc­ing in the beams of the street light. They glit­ter in the night.

You don’t say much un­til you’re a block or two away. You grab her hands. There’s not much to feel through the woollen mit­tens. Mit­tens! You’re both so adorable.

You tell her you think about her all the time. You can’t get her out of your mind. She’s driv­ing you crazy. Then, you tell your first lie to her.

“I re­ally, re­ally, re­ally like you.” I know you want to say “love,” but you can’t bring your­self to do it.

That’s okay. You’re just 15 years old. One day you will learn that your heart is not your be­trayer. One day you will learn that it can break and it can mend. More than once. But that’s not why I’m writ­ing to you. Here’s the thing. I want you to pay at­ten­tion. Read this more than once if you have to. You will kiss her and she will kiss you. Re­mem­ber that kiss. Try to slow your heart down and take it all in. What it feels like. How she tastes. How she smells. The look in her Wi­nona Ry­der eyes. Both of you so young.

Re­mem­ber all of it be­cause I’m older now, at least in your eyes, and I’ve reached the age where the things that hap­pened in the past are be­gin­ning to mat­ter more than the things that will hap­pen next. And for the life of me, I can’t re­mem­ber that mo­ment. Would you do that for me, kid? Thanks. h

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