By Maddi Sharpe
Dear Max #1 & Max #2,
Max One and I were playground soul mates. He lived with his grandma in the white unit on the corner, opposite the playground. The train would travel back and forth across the concrete wall, pulling into Patterson station and towering over the road down below. The park jutted out between two forked roads, just up from Patterson Road where civilisation had yet to thrive.
He was green, and I was red. Images of friends from times long ago appear in shades of a memory almost forgotten. I would wake in earnest, begging mum to take me down to the park so I could see my best friend. I’m sure neither of us felt the other was a best friend, and we quite possibly didn’t even know it’s meaning.
He would wear his white converse and I would wear my pink jellies. Together we would terrorise our playground neighbourhood, roaring around the tanbark on our little bikes as we dared the other kids to stand in our way. The same parent and child pairings would appear each day. At dusk we would form a toddler alliance against the desperate ushering of our parents.
One day my little feet waddled toward an empty playground and I waited. I waited for him; I searched for him.
One day I almost forgot that he existed as I played with the other children.
One day I waited at the fence and pressed my face, hopes and dreams against the green wire triangles, my fingers looping through expectantly.
One day Max never met me at the slide.
I wonder what our lives would have been like had we grown up together and grown older together, shared our pasts with each other as if they were a singular.
Marriage may now be the furthest vow from my lips, but when I was six, I married another Max. Perhaps it was an infantile process of recovery against the first great loss of love.
Max Two became my husband that Christmas; we were married under the covers of his sister’s bed on our family friends’ farm. My sister and she officiated the wedding, and we laughed until the air grew heavier beneath the covers. The unhemmed edges of the white chiffon dress scratched at my neck, as we scrambled to the surface and fell out onto the floor, the four of us falling into a pool of silent hysteria.
Christmas was over and all of the ham had been eaten. We said our goodbyes, farewells and see-you-soons, and climbed into the Pajero on the long adventure home.
The next year I went back to the playground, Maxless. While the other kids were competing for rule of the monkey bars, I was contemplating the desolation I had suddenly found myself in. Living without one Max may have been acceptable, but two? What on earth was I to do without two Maxes?
As they say, time heals all wounds, and perhaps they are right and there is some truth to that. Perhaps because I never sought out Max Three.
My current crush is any human who seems to have their shit together.
Together enough at least to be able to wake up early on a Saturday morning without needing to run hand clamped over mouth towards the toilet bowl. Or at the very least, needing to walk.
This human, is my first real crush as a Twenty-Something Human.