My iHome was on shuffle while I was making dinner, as it usually is. I tend to have music on in the kitchen, and although sometimes I'll be in the mood for a specific artist or type of music, for some reason I tend to shuffle when I cook. I have a lot of varied stuff on my iPod, so it's always a crapshoot as to what's going to come on next. As usual, it was loud, the better to cancel out the blare of video games emanating from the living room.
The song stopped me in my tracks when it came on, like it does every time I hear it. And for the next four minutes or so, I experienced the same split reality I always do when I'm listening to it.
My current reality faded. I wasn't a forty seven year old woman with three kids, standing in my ludicrously spacious kitchen, lines around my eyes and gray hairs trying to give my Miss Clairol a run for her money. There were no dogs running underfoot trying to catch scraps as they fell, no bickering from the next room. The warm and spicy smells of my home disappeared, as my mind went where it always goes.
I was twenty years old and deeply, desperately, obsessively in love with a man who was giving me a serious run for my sanity, a man who was like no other man I had ever known. My entire life was in upheaval. My mom had moved away following an acrimonious split from my step-father, I had just finished my first year of college (having taken off a year after high school to work), and for the first time in my life I was living alone. I hated it. I was surviving on instant pancake mix out of a box and the generosity of friends who would occasionally feed me. Money was tight. I was living in a four room back house that would have tucked easily into my current kitchen. It was dark and dank, and even came with the requisite derelict landlord, but it was cheap and it was moderately safe.
All the details paled next to the man issues, however. I didn't know at the time that this would be the man that every prospect in my life would be measured up against, the man I didn't know that I would still carry such a soft spot for all these years later. All I knew was that I was miserable. I was reeling from the magnitude of my emotions and so was he. He was a genuinely nice guy who didn't know what the hell he had gotten himself into. It was harder and harder to keep my cool, my objectivity, my pride. My entire being boiled down to being with him. I was obsessed. And it wasn't pretty for anyone involved.
Needless to say, it didn't work out. We went out for a couple of years and after we broke up we still stayed in touch. We weren't enemies, but we weren't friends either. One day six months or so later, after the FX and I had been going out for a short time, he showed back up on my doorstep with an olive branch extended for a reconciliation. We had both grown up a lot, both learned a lot, both had a better understanding of who we were. The offer was on the table.
And I turned it down. Because I still loved him too much. Still cared too much. Still would have moved heaven and earth just to touch his skin. I was afraid I wouldn't survive another breakup, wouldn't be able to deal with the shocking depths of my feelings. He wasn't safe for me and never would be. I chose safety. With both eyes wide open I chose safety.
It's amazing what can run through your mind in four minutes.
I think most people have a song like that. This is mine. It was all over the radio at the time, by my very favorite band, and summed up my situation perfectly.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM