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I was always drawn to the children in men. Little boys, so precious and fragile and dear. Little boys destined to break my heart because they would never be able to handle what I had coming. Children hiding in jaded, jaded, lonely men.

There was so much that I wanted
that you could never give.
I just never got that I was stronger than you...*

I wonder if he could be different, or if I’m making this up all over again. His little boy inside is all over the outside. He grins and he beams and he understands the joy in the world. His response to my diatribes is perverse and terse, and usually drives to the heart of his faith that people are beautiful. Nothing more and nothing less.

It makes me stop. ‘Oh people are neat, real profound, Bob;’ YES, yes it is. It’s the most profound and wonderful thing anyone’s ever said when I was angry before. People are neat. and wonder creeps into my heart again. And beauty.

YES.

He is silent. Aloof. ‘I just don’t talk much.’ He doesn’t want to interrupt the silence with awkward words; this is my pleasure and my awe and my perfect consternation when I lie in the night, dreaming back on his smile and I have no one to talk to, and no sign that he’ll be calling soon.

He is all of the excitement that I dreamed a child-like character could be. But will that be only more pain, in my endless quest for the little boy who can act like a man? I love your sense of wonder, Bob, but can you take what I will inevitably give? Or maybe will your smile that is all the joy I could dream of for a child or a man make me think better, and return me to the place where I could be that simple?

Can I learn from the child, as always I dreamed I might do?

*from Lucy Kaplansky’s “For Once in Your Life”.