1. It's July 3, so the sun is a heat lamp with no off switch, the blacktop road a cast-iron griddle, and any living thing caught between the two is just meat set to singe on high. I tried to tell Daniel this. I know this swath of high desert as well as I know his profile. The Mojave's cracked surface is as familiar to me as the dark mole tucked to the side of his right eyebrow-- his only imperfection, and one I love.
2. "You're right, Jottie, but what good is it? Rightness is nothing. You can't live on it. You might as well eat ashes." I glanced at Father, his bloodshot eyes and the stain on his pants. I loved him so. Once more, I tried to explain. "This is all we can do; it's all we're allowed. We can't go back. The only thing time leaves for us to decide" -- I picked up Father's hand and held it tight-- "is whether or not we're going to hate each other."
3. I wanted to be her north star. I wanted to be her map. I wanted to drink coffee with her in the cafes in the morning and do things, as you do, as she did, instead of just philosophizing about them and deconstructing their endless Russian-doll layers of meaning. I was alone before I met her. I wanted to disappear with her, and fold her into my life. I wanted to be her compass. I wanted to be her last speaker, her interpreter, her language. I wanted to be her translator, Zed, but none of the languages we knew were the same.
4. You can't re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice. You chase it like the first high for the rest of our life. It doesn't mean you can't love another or move on; it just means that one spontaneous moment, the split second you took the leap, when your heart was racing and our mind was muddled with What ifs? -- that moment -- will never happen the same way again. It will never feel as intense as the first time. At least, that's the way I remember it. That's why my mother always said we memorialize our past. Everything seems better in a memory.
5. Nothing is better than the discovery of another living, breathing human, who fights the same as you do, loves the same as you do, and understands you with such clarity that it feels erotic.
6. "If you are honest with yourself," I said to the potato salad, "is the feeling of love really any better than the satisfaction you get from a good meal?"
7. It was a kiss that had sneaked in through an open window, a kiss that lay folded in a paper giraffe, in the silences between 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in the pits of the mini mangoes and here, now, at least, it was set free. And the rightness of it, the feeling of longing and belonging, made me want to hold on to it forever. I wanted Damian to keep kissing me, keep kissing, keep kissing, until every other kiss had been erased, until this was the only kiss.
8. Your voice isn't noise. It's a song I want to hear over and over.
9. She'd read more than was healthy, hundreds of books every year. Some of them she read twice, or even three times, before returning them. Some of them she would check out again after letting them sink in a while. She'd thought at the time that books were at their best when you'd read them two or three times.
10. No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.