A couple of years ago there was a boy named Max who was on holiday in Vallarta with his family.
At the time, Ruby and I went to the beach every morning, and the first day we happened to just be there at the same time, but soon we got into a groove and agreed to meet at the beach in the mornings and play together. It was a “date”.
We used to collect a bit of trash each morning, and as he’d grab whatever the object was, he’d hold it up and say “this is pollution”.
One morning he found a heart-shaped rock, and gifted it to me with much reverence. I still have it. It sits on the floor of my bedroom, right next to my desk, so I think of Max a lot, though we don’t communicate all that often.
The morning he gave me the heart rock, there were two men near where we were, apparently talking about me. Max had gotten really quiet, was staring off in the distance, and said with his thousand yard stare that he was glad I didn’t speak much Spanish.
“I don’t like what they are saying about you. I’m glad you can’t understand what they are saying.”
Max is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever encountered in life. I treasure him.
I think of Max often, not only because of the rock, but also because I do understand what they are saying now, and I often wish that I didn’t.
I wonder when exactly they stop being like Max and start being like someone I might pepper spray.
I hope Max stays forever like he is. I hope he gives away all the heart-shaped rocks he finds. I hope each recipient loves theirs as much as I love mine.
He messaged me tonight with a video of his first orchestra performance.
I will spare you the video. 🙂
We traded a few messages… I asked him how he is doing in school and he told me he was getting straight Fs. 😀
That boy. So funny, sweet, smart and talented. So aware and in tune with life around him. Some days, just by looking at my heart rock, I can actually restore some semblance of faith in humanity. Some days, life gets so heavy that I don’t know how to bear it with much grace. I wish that I didn’t understand. Much of this was easier when I didn’t understand.
I love watching him grow up. I love that he keeps in touch, that he thinks of me when he has milestones in life.
I can’t wait until he’s older. I have so many things to tell him, about what I understand now but wish I didn’t. How right he was, how astute an observer he is. How he’s helped me in his own little way, to navigate those new and sometimes disturbing understandings.
How he’s such a joy, how his sweetness has carried me through some hard truths. How that rock has been at once a source of joy and also an effective anchor.
I can’t wait to watch what he does with all of that love, that understanding, that wit of his. I can’t wait to see what a wonderful man he becomes.
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