Just Too Beautiful

5:30am came and with it my inability to stay in bed any longer so I grabbed the blanket that Kelly made Sid a few Christmases ago out of the basket next to the sofa and settled in to polish off the last third of Benjamin Alire Saenz's novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

It's a just too beautiful story about what it's like to be young and gay and in love and terrified by all of it and below are my fifteen favorite passages.

Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?

He tried not to laugh but he wasn't good at controlling all the laughter that lived inside of him.

I wondered what it was like, to be the kind of guy that cried over the death of a bird.

I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone's hand.

I wanted to buy a T-shirt that read: I AM UNKNOWABLE.

Maybe it's a terrible thing, to keep a war to yourself. But maybe that's the way it has to be.

But I had learned how to hide what I felt. No, that's not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.

And then I heard him crying. So I just let him cry. There was nothing I could do. Except listen to his pain. I could do that. I could hardly stand it. But I could do that. Just listen to his pain.

I missed him more now that he was back than when he had been gone.

Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer morning could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.

What did words matter to a desert?

I looked out the window at the black clouds ahead of us. I opened the back window and smelled the rain. You could smell the rain in the desert even before a drop fell. I closed my eyes. I held my hand out and felt the first drop. It was like a kiss. The sky was kissing me. It was a nice thought.

The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.

Maybe dogs were one of the secrets of the universe.

I sat up on my bed and ran my fingers over the scars on my legs. Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed. Had I been hurt? Had I healed? Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.