Why do we love knowing the pain that comes?I pondered this as I listened and felt the ache of a broken-hearted friend.

I remember pondering this in middle school. Twelve and besotted. A girl with curls and a mean spike. One that parts jerseys on the other side of the net.


She had a kernel dimple on the corner of her mouth. I loved her. Wrote her poems and letters that she returned to me in a pile tied with twine. Letters I wrote in my best English, having absorbed Harlequin language. Might have plagiarized from my mom’s dog-eared collection. How could she just return them, careless, like an overdue library book? I did not comprehend. She never said why. Just left me crying in the hallway. My friends rushing around like a curtain.

We’d all been suckered by seventh graders.

Then in high school a few times more. Hash tags on my arms still visible. (I love too much I love too much)

It’s like a high on a rollercoaster. You scream and scream with your gut in your mouth; then, get back in line. Can I fix how I feel? Is there a pill to stem chest pains caused by an unknown biological agent. It’s like a drug I didn’t have to take.

I tell my friend that everything is going to be alright, but that it’ll get worse before it gets better. The stakes are higher when you’re older. Sell the house? Split the kids? Which friends should who take? How about health insurance?

Much messier than a pile of unwanted love letters.

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. ( She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
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