To my son,
Right now you’re in school and I’m at work. It’s about 1:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, which means you have already finished lunch — pizza day! — and had recess. Now you’re in math and I’m writing you a letter about love. I know, gross, right? But it’s also about life and also about math, which I know you like.
Remember last night when we were doing math homework, adding up how many pennies Karl and his friend Kate had in total if Kate had six and Karl had three? You wrote, correctly, the equation like this:
6 + 3 ______
What I want to talk about is that line. Above the line you have what is called the addends and below it you have the sum. If we were doing subtraction, it would be the minuend and the subtrahend and below the line would be the difference. If we were doing multiplication, it would be the product and the factor. But that’s not too important here. What I want to say about love has to do with the line, not the operation above it. It has to do with the very natural impulse to draw it at all and add (or subtract or multiply or divide) the numbers above it. I don’t think the line has a name but once you draw it, it’s like pressing the dial button on the phone or enter on the computer. It enacts the action. It’s why we’re now a two-house family. You and your brother live with Mommy at Treehouse, and I live around the block at Painting Mountain. Obviously, there are a lot of reasons why we couldn’t be a one-family house. None of those reasons have to do with you. But I can tell you, from my end, they have to do with that goddamn line. It’s a line I drew and redrew constantly, seeking to total up my relationship with your mom, turn a string of numbers into a problem.
Dad, you’re probably asking, what does this have to do with love? Well, I’ll tell you. Love means never drawing that line. Love makes calculation impossible. It just keeps on going. In other…
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