An Oral History of Love in Contemporary America: Selections from Us #2


Kayla James, Age 5
Bellingham, Washington

“He had a lot of cool toys, and I really liked the toys.”

Well, I was born, and Mommy took me over to his house to make some friends, and me and Lukey wanted to play with each other every day, and we gotted to do it. And that’s how we got along.

I’m just in kindergarten. I knew him since preschool. Actually, I met him before preschool. I woke up and I got dressed for preschool and then I went to preschool and he’s like, umm—he said this funny thing, I can’t remember. He’s like, “A- busha!” He was really funny.

He had a lot of cool toys, and I really liked the toys when I was little and he had all of the little working things. He really had great hair and he really had a fish on his clothes ’cause he liked to go fishing with his grandfather. And I had a princess on mine, because I liked princesses.

I felt happy that I made a friend, and me and him kept, like “UHH NNNN MMM NNN! I want that toy!” And we kept pulling the toy!

He was very nice to me and when I was born he let me drive in his little thing and that made me get along and like him. And he said nice things, like “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

We played pirates, and we went on a treasure hunt. We went past some houses, we found this little statue of a lion, and we were pretending that the owner had a bunch of animals that were mean to people except the owners. We were both doing it. We went really far, we went to the street, we tried to walk to the mailbox to see if there was any gold inside.

He took the map. I was the captain. And he said the captain doesn’t always hold the map. But the captain always holds the map!

He knew the way back to the house and he left me, and I’m like, “Luke, where did you go? I gotta find him!” And I was like, “Luke! Luke!” I kept on screaming “Luke!”

He used to have good table manners. He ate with his fork and spoon. Now he has bad table manners. ’Cause when I was four I came over for a playdate to have dinner and we had macaroni and cheese and I ate with my spoon and he ate with his hands. And his hands got all cheesy. And then like, “Okay, you’re not having good table manners in front of girls.” And—
his dad—and he got in trouble. He had to go sit in the bathroom.

He’s a little bit mean and a little bit nice. When I went to his playdate, he didn’t let me drive his little red golf cart, and it really used to have a lot of High School Musical songs on it.

He lied to me. He said he could hold his breath for three days and three nights. And he really didn’t do it. That’s impossible.

And he said he could—he said he could go like this (crosses eyes) for two nights and two days. But if you do that for two nights and two days, your eyes will stay like that.

He lied about um . . . I was being mean every day, but I really wasn’t. I mean bossy every day. But I wasn’t. I used to, but now I’m not. And he said that on Monday. But I wasn’t on Monday. When the school year started is when I stopped.

I felt sad that he lied to me—he was the first friend I knew.

I like talking! (laughs)

One time he tried to read a book, and he went like, “A- busha- shesha- yeah- a- sheeshay- sheeshay- shyah!” He was reading this book that Ms. Bennett read! (laughs) And I’m like, “What in the heck did you just say?” Ow! I just bit my tongue!! Um, yeah. You should have seen Lukey when he was reading! “A- busha- shesha- yeah- a- sheeshay- sheeshay- shyah!” (laughs)

I’m turning six on April 3! Can you believe that?

Love means that you’re in love with somebody and you think he’s cute or she’s cute. That feeling of love is um . . . that you really love them. It’s in your heart. God puts it there. God is actually inside of our heart so he put the love inside when he was inside. You can create it by . . . umm . . . thinking someone is cute.

No more questions!


Excerpted from US: Americans Talk About Love edited by John Bowe, published in February by Faber & Faber, Inc., an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by John Bowe. All rights reserved. Click here to purchase.

Read “An Oral History of Love in Contemporary America: Selections from Us #1.”


Rumpus original art by Ilyse Magy.

John Bowe has contributed to the New Yorker, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, GQ, The American Prospect, PRI’s This American Life, and McSweeney’s. He was co-editor of Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, the co-screenwriter of the film Basquiat, and the author of the book Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy. More from this author →