Babe


Remember when we still barely knew each other but we took a road trip to Oregon? You said, “I don’t want you to get attached to me.” Remember how I said, “Then we should stop sleeping together”? I was already attached.


You had a guidebook about Oregon hot springs you checked out of the library. We barely ate anything all weekend, just drank a lot of coffee. When you collapsed on the trail out of Cougar Hot Springs and I had to catch you before you hit the ground. I told you I had spent years running on just caffeine but maybe you needed to eat something.


When I told you I had never listened to Led Zeppelin, you couldn’t believe it. You played their songs for me the whole drive home.


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Remember how I didn’t smoke weed before I met you? On an early date, we were sitting by an alpine lake and I told you—full of twenty-five-year-old self-righteousness—that if I needed to be high to enjoy doing something then it probably wasn’t worth doing in the first place.


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You rode your bike everywhere across the city because you were concerned about your carbon footprint. It made you late for everything but I liked how principled you were. You introduced me to your best friend, saying, “I hang out with her even though she doesn’t ride her bike.” His eyes went wide but I just laughed because I was so chill.


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We went swing dancing in North Seattle and I did too many tequila shots. By the time we left, I was so drunk I could barely stand up. You tucked my hair behind my ear and I told you it felt like a Pokemon petting my head.


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Remember how much Fleetwood Mac we used to listen to? In the car, at my apartment. I didn’t know if we were exchanging gifts that first Christmas, so I went to five different record stores to find a used copy of Rumors on vinyl. I thought buying a used record would seem more casual than buying a new one. Remember how you left that record behind when you moved?


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Remember how we rode our bikes downtown to see Wilco? Cans of beer rattling in our water bottle cages all the way down 12th Avenue. All of Seattle was wet and lit up. I said I never would have known about any of it without you. About Jeff Tweedy or bike lanes or how to roll a joint.


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You used to call me when you were drunk and leave long voicemails. You called when you were riding your bike across the city and rambled. I used to save all of them—long minutes of you telling me that I was pretty, that I was funny. Once, you pretended you were calling me for the first time even though we’d been dating for a year by then. “Hi Rose, you might not remember me....” When I brought it up in the morning, you never remembered calling.


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You forgot everything. You forgot to call. You forgot my friend’s names. You forgot we had tickets to a David Sedaris reading. Remember how mad it used to make me? You said it wasn’t personal. You said you smoked too much weed in college and now your memory was shot.


Remember when I got all hopped up on Taylor Swift songs and drove to your house to break up with you? Remember how sweetly you talked me out of it?


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We went to see Phish and you put a square of blotter paper on my tongue. Remember how anxious it made me? The way I stood there twisting the glow sticks until they split and leaked. I wore overalls—“So I won’t lose anything, look at all my pockets,” I said—and then later, when everything was moving in front of my eyes, I couldn’t figure out how to undo the straps. I spent almost 15 minutes trying to get undressed inside a dark Porta Potty so I could pee. I was laughing but you got so worried about me. Remember how you almost ripped the plastic door off its hinges?


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During our second year, we took a ferry across Puget Sound during a storm. Waves broke across the front of the car deck, splashing our windshield, and setting off car alarms. I got nervous so you pulled your phone out and showed me videos of ferries bobbing through bigger waves, bigger storms. You got me to laugh.


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Remember—after we lived together—when I tried to sleep in so you sat on the end of the bed playing harmonica? My dog started howling along and I said, “OK, OK, I’ll get up.”


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Remember when my friends in Portland gave us a bag of some strain called Candyland? I liked it so much that we didn’t smoke anything else for months. The way it made everything fun like being drunk on champagne. We got into bed to mac & cheese and watch new episodes of South Park. They weren’t very funny but you liked them and I wanted to be around you. Cartman got a girlfriend that season and called her “babe” incessantly. Remember how it became an inside joke? “Babe.” We chirped it back and forth. "Babe, what do you want for dinner, babe?" Remember how I liked you better when we were high because you got softer?


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Once, when we were running late to a concert on my twenty-sixth birthday, I was in the bathroom trying to fix my eyeliner and you came in to bring me a beer. You said, “Every time I turn around, you get hotter.”


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Remember when I woke you up early so we could go hiking in the North Cascades? Remember how I told you we were burning daylight? It’s something I heard once in a John Wayne movie, but you thought it was so clever that you pulled me back into bed. After the hike, we were covered in mud and stopped to get a drink in some little town I don’t know the name of. You helped the bartender move some filing cabinets and he poured us free beer.


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I didn’t bring a purse to your sister’s wedding so I put my iPhone in your pocket. I checked it later and it said you had danced eight miles that night. Remember how we used to say that all wedding bands should play Motown and nothing but Motown?


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Remember when we flew back from the East Coast and went straight to a bar to see Esme Patterson play? We were obsessed with her that summer. Remember how jetlagged we were? Remember how that never used to stop us?


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Every time we rode our bikes past that one intersection on the bike path, you said, “One time, I found $20 on the ground here.” You used to tell the same stories over and over. Remember how one day I finally cut you off and said “Didn’t you find $20 here once?” You laughed. You said it made you want to tackle me off my bike and kiss me.


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When my parents came to visit, we made brunch in our tiny galley kitchen. We ate eggs and goat cheese toast at our kitchen table, the one I bought at Goodwill. In the middle of the conversation, the dog barked and everyone stopped talking. My mom asked what he wanted and you said, “Oh, he just hasn’t contributed to the conversation in a while.” I couldn’t stop laughing because you were right. I wanted to know when you got so good at reading my dog’s mind.


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Remember when we got high and watched Lemonade? The next morning I heard you shuffling around in the kitchen—making coffee—and singing to the dog. I could barely hear you, but I think what you were saying was “He better call Becky with the good hair.”


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On the only Christmas we spent in our apartment, I took iPhone videos of you opening gifts and sent them to your family back east. You sat on the floor in a tie dye shirt, unwrapping toys for the dog. Whistling balls and treats you had wrapped just the night before.


Afterwards, we went hiking. There was fresh snow in the mountains. You strapped a GoPro to the dog and tried to get him to take a picture of us together—standing still in snowshoes—with the whole valley behind us.


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Remember how hard I used to cry, especially towards the end? Remember how it started to seem like all I ever did was cry? Remember how you used to bring me a glass of water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated?


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You traveled all summer for work and I missed you, but I tried not to mention it because that irritated you. Remember how we were supposed to fly to California together for a wedding but I booked your ticket for the wrong day and didn’t realize until we got to the airport? I flew to the wedding alone.


I was sad to leave without you. Still, I guess I was used to our arrangement by then because I remember being surprised to hear you sound disappointed.


When I texted you from the hotel and asked if you wanted me to bring anything back from California, you said, “I just want you.” You called me your California gold nugget. Did you know I thought things were going to be different from then on? I thought it was a turning point, but it wasn’t. Remember how you liked me best when you missed me?


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Remember when we rode our bikes out to a winery to see Paul Simon play? I kept lagging behind you on the bike path, then pedaling hard to catch up, then braking when I got too far ahead. Remember how I found it hard to pace you? You told me to downshift. You said, “Try to find a gear that feels comfortable to pedal consistently.”


But I could never seem to match you, to be right where you were.  

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