When we last left off, Henry went to Alex because he knew he needed him at the DNC even if neither of them are ready to admit it yet, and Zahra literally caught them with their pants down.
It’s hard to believe that we’re more than HALFWAY through the book, but here we are. This little series of mine is flying by, and I’ll be sad when it’s over! But for now…
“His mother sits across the table, hands folded, looking at him expectantly.”
This was one of the first non-romantic scenes I came up with–definitely inspired by Leslie’s Eagleton powerpoint on Parks & Rec.
“Oh, that’s it, sugar? God, I was it worried it was gonna be something worse!”
Always knew that both of Alex’s parents would be chill with his sexuality–really wanted to show supportive parents of queer kids.
“I thought you hated him?” she says. “Of…now you’re friends with him?”
“Both true at different points. But, uh, now we’re, like, a thing.”
The DRAMA of it all.
“The next slide is titled: EXPLORING YOUR SEXUALITY: HEALTHY, BUT DOES IT HAVE TO BE WITH THE PRINCE OF ENGLAND? She apologizes for not having time to come up with better titles. Alex actively wishes for the sweet relief of death.
The one after is: FEDERAL FUNDING, TRAVEL EXPENSES, BOOTY CALLS, AND YOU.
I have no commentary I just think this is the funniest part of the book!!!
“You’re a dumbass, but I trust you, and I trust your judgment.”
Alex & Ellen’s relationship is one I had a lot of fun with–he completely exasperates her but she also 100% recognizes his worth and his brilliance.
Have you ever read any of Alexander Hamilton’s letters to John Laurens?”
Yes, obviously, I was a Hamilton stan 2015-16
“Hear me out: I think Hamilton could have been bi. His letters to Laurens are almost as romantic as his letters to his wife.”
The Hamilton-Laurens letters were what inspired the running queer historical love letters thing, which I did to make their relationship feel rooted in history–and also as a sneaky queer history lesson.
“History, huh? Bet we could make some.”
I’m a firm believer in one good line that can encapsulate a whole work-I wrote this to be that line.
“I just want to…you know. Extend the option. If you wanted less of me, and more that–the work, the uncomplicated thing–I would understand. Truly.”
Henry being 100% aware that he’s deeply in love and still offering to let Alex go here KILLS ME.
“Should I tell you that when we’re apart, your body comes back to me in dreams? That when I sleep, I see you, the dip of your waist, the freckle above your hip, and when I wake up in the morning, it feels like I’ve just been with you, the phantom touch of your hand on the back of my neck fresh and not imagined? The I can feel your skin against mine, and it makes every bone in my body ache? That, for a few moments, I can hold my breath and be back there with you, in a dream, in a thousand rooms, nowhere at all?”
One of the earliest email passages I wrote…I really wanted to show that Henry actually is a writer.
“Please don’t be stupid. No part of any of this will ever be uncomplicated.”
When Alex wrote this he thought nothing of it but it comes off so dismissive, poor Henry…at least Alex owns up to it later.
“And I want to get the fuck out of this house.”
At this point Alex is still so bad about undercutting every vulnerable thing he says by immediately moving on to a new subject.
“I kind of can’t stop thinking about you all sunburned and pretty sitting out there in the country.”
Stuff like this is why Henry doesn’t think Alex feels the same–Alex writes this as passion & desire but Henry reads it as “oh it’s just still physical.”
“Tho I long for the actual sunlight contact between us I miss you like a home. Shine back honey & think of me.”
Loved using the letters to let them say things to each other they couldn’t yet say directly.
“P.S. This is mortifying and maudlin and, honestly, I hope you forget it as soon as you’ve read it.”
This is the second time Henry tries to take back everything he’s written in an email–he stop doing that after they finally talk about their feelings.
“Nora’s playlist has segued into “Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton by the time Alex swings out of the jeep by one arm.
Highly recommend putting on this song while reading this scene–the perfect dreamy mood.
Yes, I chose June’s nickname because of CJ Cragg.
Oscar slaps his hand into Henry’s. “Hope you’re ready to fucking party!”
I LOVE OSCAR
“Alex determinedly picked up the best from both of them.”
To Alex, this is true in all regards–he has always been desperate to live up to his parents, so he dedicated himself to picking up everything he could.
“Ah. That motherfucker.”
A line for the ages.
“You got a lot in common.”
Obsessed with the idea Oscar always kind of knowing and sending Alex to work with Raf to help him figure it out.
“I’m on vacation. I want to get drunk and eat barbecue in peace.”
“Your mother is, without question, the love of my life.”
I love this bit–it’s possible that the love of your life is not the person you’ll be with forever, but you’ll always love them in some way.
“His dad keeps an old guitar in the living room, and June brings it out on the porch so that the two of them can pass it back and forth.”
In the first draft of this scene Oscar brought out a blunt but I didn’t think I could get away with having a senator get stoned with his kids.
“The breeze keeps moving to meet the highest branches of the trees, and the water keeps rising to meet the bulkheads, and Henry leans down to meet Alex’s mouth, and Alex is. Well, Alex is so in love he could die.”
One of my favorite complete sensory moments.
“Love, you and I both know you’re rounding up.”
I think I may have mentioned this already but Alex is 5’8.5″
“It’s so easy to imagine it: a future Henry who comes to the lake house with him every summer, who learns how to elotes and ties neat cleat hitches and fits right into place in his weird family.”
THIS is romance.
“It’s good. It’s really, really good.”
This is when you should start to worry.
“That is bloody rich from you.” Henry says, and he’s grinning like he does when he’s drinking in a challenge, like nothing in the world pleases him more than Alex’s antagonizing elbow in his side.
They’re both super intelligent people turned on by puzzles that are hard to figure out, which means they’re made for each other.
“His instinct has always been to shoot back, No, I don’t, or, I want to, but he bites it back and says, “I know.”
“Ugh, it’ll be amazing. I’ll cook migas in the mornings, and we’ll swim all day and never put clothes on and makes out on the pier, and it won’t even matter if the neighbors see.”
This is so Alex–sees what he wants and chases after it without thinking of how it will affect anyone else.
“I used to think, if I pictured the person I wanted to be and took all the crazy anxiety in my brain and narrowed it down to that point, I could rewire it. Use it to power something else.”
Alex in summation.
“That, he realizes suddenly, is the danger of allowing love into this–the acknowledgment that if something goes wrong, he doesn’t know how he will stand it.”
This line reminds me of this quote from Joanna Newsom about meeting Andy Samberg and knowing that there’s now someone you can’t bear to lose.”
Had to go early for a family matter. Left with the PPOs.
Didn’t want to wake you.
Thank you for everything.
Hard to explain Henry’s reasoning here, but I think he thought that retreating into his worst self would show Alex he was wrong to love him and solve the problem for him.
OOF this is a rough way to end! Did anything hurt your heart more than the first time you read this chapter??
You don’t want to miss next week, when Alex, fresh off his heartbreak and mad as hell, goes to England to yell at Henry!