Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Fall

I've been thinking a lot about college and a particularly bad crush I had. I don't know why this is on my mind, maybe because there are so many songs that remind me of college on the radio lately. For instance, every time I hear Prince's "When Doves Cry," I picture him, but only like the physical details of him, like my brain is making an amalgamation of the MTV video and his corporeal self--ladder-like abs, too-long curly hair and blue eyes. And it also reminds me of a certain stillness that would come over me in his presence, and awe that he didn't deserve, but I couldn't seem to stop myself from feeling that way.

And thinking of my younger self reminds me how long and short life is. That sounds trite, but it's weird how thirty years ago seems both like forever and not long ago at all. I was thinking about far away/close when I was singing to a Pat Benatar song this morning in the car ("We're running with the shadows of the night..."), imagining her big slanted eyes with the heavy eyeliner and short boy hair, and wondering how she's doing today and then thinking about how awful it is that the older you get, the more deaths you experience, and that includes seemingly God-like pop stars such as Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Sting (who, not so coincidentally, reminds me of the aforementioned boy--same chiseled good looks and far off look in his eye as if he is thinking of more important things, such as how to write a song that includes references to Lolita. That, in turn, reminds me of a Shakespeare quote I can't quite put my finger on "greater things than can be imagined in the dreams of men" or something like that, probably a line from one of his tragedies.Which also reminds me that there was a time when I memorized the entire balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, "In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond." And wouldn't it be nice if I had more verse in my head and fewer song lyrics?).

There's a tendency to romanticize the past and talk about how amazing it was, wow, what it was like to feel so deeply for someone else? Particularly someone who I never knew very well at all. To feel it in the palms of my hands; that's how I remember it anyway, this sharp pain by my life line, but it wasn't that I enjoyed it--i-t felt like a bad ending to every movie, every shot dog story you can remember, this inevitable loss, because I knew he would go away without saying good bye. He did go away.  He dropped out of school to be an actor and I stayed behind and slept with his friend who reminded me of him, except the difference was that his friend liked me back and so therefore wasn't interesting.

Maybe I'm thinking about the past because Luke just started seventh grade, and he has all of this anguish still to experience--first dances, liking the wrong person, sweaty hands, scribbled love notes left on car windows in the middle of the night. I envy that and also don't envy it, because it's terrible. Much of growing up and falling in love is painful; it's only in the looking back that we pretend it was better than it actually was.

Still, I wish I could remember more than I do. There are a handful of moments. I remember being at a theater party and wondering if he would show up.  I am sure I dressed in a particular way, probably wearing that green cardigan sweater with the soft suede patches my friend Debbie gave me (I still have it. It's in the bottom drawer of a dresser in the attic).  At the party, I checked every corner of the yard, looking for him, opened closed doors and peered into bedrooms. I took a plastic cup of warm beer and squinted into the dark living room. I felt a hiccup in my chest when I thought I saw his face, but it turned out to be someone else, someone not him. And then I turned around to go into the kitchen and bumped into him, recognizing the way he smelled first (he smelled good, like patchouli and wood smoke), and he took my hand and we went up to the roof of the house, standing on the dangerous, slippery tile. I didn't care if I fell.  I could feel that adrenaline rush you get when you've just swerved to avoid a bad car accident, and I could feel my hair, long then, down to my waist, blow across my face, perfect, and he brushed it away and said, Why did you make me wait so long? And then, of course, he kissed me.

I'm telling you, that's how I remember it. I remember so few things, but I remember him saying that, because it was just what I wanted to hear, like something from a movie, and also so wrong, because I was the one who had been waiting. And anyway, he had his own love who he ached over, his own unattainable person who had way more confidence than he or I put together and if you asked him today what he remembers about college, he too will think of a song or songs (always REM in those days. "Losing My Religion") and a girl with long hair (hers was lighter than mine) who only kind of loved him back (not me).

P.S. I found the quote:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
---Hamlet

  

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