Fall in love with a boy with golden eyes your freshman year at university. He is patient, notices you first, and thinks you’re worth the wait. Don’t sleep with him. Unless you are fighting, which you rarely ever do, never write about him. He is good and kind. You are happy. Sacrifice being a writer in exchange for being his.
Worry that your mom will not like him. Don’t agree to go out with him officially until she has met him and said she does. Before he even asks you out, he will quit smoking, not because you will make him, but because he thinks there is no way you’d go out with him otherwise. Then the golden-eyed boy will ask your dad for permission to make you his girlfriend over a starch-laden breakfast at Bob Evans. Your dad will ask your mom what he should say and your mom will only laugh. She thinks he is a good boy. Feel relieved. Feel traditional. Feel domestic. Go home every Sunday for church and a home-cooked meal. In the car, hold the hand of the golden-eyed boy you assume you will marry.
You’ve never had a boyfriend before him. He is your first date and your first hand-hold and your first I think you’re beautiful and your first kiss and your first penis and your first almost everything. You want to be his last all of these things.
Unintentionally start to forget you were meant to be a writer.
Much later, before graduation, quite by accident, start to fall in love with someone else. He is a writer like you. He is older. Call him the stranger, even after he isn’t one. Consider leaving the golden-eyed boy and never looking back, not even on paper. The stranger makes you write like you haven’t since you were fifteen years old writing poetry about how much you loooooved Teen Dream in a Boy Band, the one you thought you’d marry someday. Don’t tell your mother about the stranger. Write new stories, the only different ones since you came to college. Feel special, feel free, for the first time. Make a choice.
To stay with the first boy, even if it means never picking up a pen again, choose a normal life, and go to Section 5.
To be wooed by this dark and handsome stranger with words, jump to Section 6.