I. Eight p.m. on a Monday, sitting with mi tocaya, in the apartment she now shares with her new husband: we eat yogurt and try to figure out why we’re still friends. Fifteen years, and nothing in common but a mutual affinity for white chocolate, maraschino cherries, and mixed tapes (though our taste in music diverges at several points). It seems this is enough. And yet, I tried to build a marriage the same way, and it wasn’t. Why did that fall apart, while this remains in tact?

II. Love and pain still surprise me: how they give what I never believed I could receive, how they take what I never thought I could lose. There is a difference, my writing mentor said, between thinking and believing. But he never told me what. To this day, I use the words interchangeably. For me, faith has never ended where rationality began.

III. Another thing my mentor said: I don’t know who could keep up with you, my dear. Even injured, I run faster than everyone else on the trail. I back off my sprinter’s pace, tell myself I’ll only go one mile, maybe two. But three turns into five, and soon, I’m running longer than I have in months and months. What I’ve never been able to remember, in all my almost-twenty-eight years: the strength that can be harnessed by taking things slow.

IV. Here it comes: I approach the next room. A man smiles. Is this enough? What voice tells me to go to him—thought, belief, or something else? Which one tells me to turn, walk away, and don’t look back? Every part of me that’s still a child, longing for someone older and wiser to come beside me and tell me where to go, how to be, what to do.