Songs in the key of life. 

Inside out, by Spoon. 

We lay naked in bed, my arm under her neck, her head on my chest. It was late, and we were talking about music. I asked her what she was currently grooving on now; I find this question so much more answerable and discussable than the generic “what music do you like?” She told me how the latest Spoon album had been on repeat for her, and that one of the songs specifically was her jam. In her excitement, she took out her iPhone, opened Spotify, and queued the song.

It starts slowly, ethereal tones, with a subtle tone on every second and fourth beat, and then, about thirty seconds in, suddenly, wonderfully, the full song kicks in. It feels like an opening, the blooming of a pastel flower in a warm spring morning. The beat is simple but driving, the bass and drums coordinating together to create a sound that is simply impossible not to nod your head to.

I loved it, and I loved that she loved it. Hell, maybe the latter was why the former.

Now every time I hear that song, I think of her, and us, and our first epic date: drinks in the covered patio of a dive-y downtown bar, bass heart-beating into our feet and up through our bodies, meeting up with her friend and her friend’s date at the next bar, playing pool and drinking and laughing, the four of us almost giddy with the unspoken fact that all of us would be getting laid that night. The staggering journey to a hotel a mile away, and, because her friend hadn’t planned on walking and was wearing uncomfortable heels, the nostalgic humor of her saying, over and over, “are we there yet?”, which ended when her date hoisted her onto his back, and that look on her face as she nuzzled her head against his shoulder, my mind taking special care to snapshot that moment of pure, contented bliss. The way my date held my hand and also my arm and lingered close to me, our steps moving in time with each other effortlessly.

The way she and I came together in the hotel room, the bland anonymity of the room contrasting fiercely with the intimacy and ferocity that we shared.

The moment when I kissed her, and I thought the words “she tasted like cigarettes” in Forrest Gump’s drawling, inarticulate voice.

The moment where you realize that there is nowhere else you’d rather be and no one else you’d rather be with, and how that thought births happiness in places in you that had long been unreached; an explorer’s flashlight in the dark of a long sealed tomb.

Not long after, she texted me to tell me that she had met someone and was head over heels. I texted her back and congratulated her, and told her that if there was anyone who deserved love and happiness, it was her, and I meant it. And though I knew we weren’t “the ones” for each other, and though I had kept her at arm’s length because I still doubted the ability of my wounded heart to love, I couldn’t help but feel a little melancholy over it all, a feeling most approximated by the saying “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”

I do still love the song, both because it is a wonderful song, and because it reminds me of our (brief) time together. Wherever you are, C, and whoever you are with, I hope you are happy.

2016: The year of me

If 2015 was the year of meh, then 2016 is the year of me.

2015 was a down year. It’s funny, when I was younger, I never understood how older people could talk about “a bad year” or even a bad decade, as in “the 70’s were a rough time.” It felt so unreasonable and simplistic to hang a single banner over such a long stretch of time. And yet I’ve come to realize now that such broad brushes are often accurate. So I can say with little or no feeling of oversimplification: 2015 was a down year.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t punctuated by happiness, or even that I wasn’t happy for large stretches of the year. Really, I’ve said all I need to say about 2015 in the first sentence: 2015 was the year of meh. It wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, or overwhelmingly negative; it just kinda sat there, like beets on a salad.

A large part of that meh feeling for me came from my dating life, or lack thereof. I ended my first real relationship since my divorce at the end of 2014, so come 2015, I was back on the horse that was dating. But before I could even remount it, I knew that the horse was tired, and I was tired of riding it. The reason I was dating in the first place was the reason most people date: so they don’t have to date. We date to find a relationship so we can quit all this dating rigamarole.

Ugh, this is the part of the writing where I start to lose patience, and start to lose wind, and let these thoughts die on the vine. Because ultimately none of this matters. Fucking fuck, none of this matters.

Anyway, 2016 is the year of me. I’ve decided to quit my dating apps and quit the powerful yet transient dopamine rush that I would get from new messages and new pokes and new likes and new matches and simply set a spell, by myself, with myself, play guitar more, play piano more, maybe buy some electronic drums so I can start playing drums again, write more, learn to cook some new dishes, focus on being a present and accessible father, fill myself up with good things to overflowing so I can pour out those good things when I’m bumped, so that I can become a full person, a person that doesn’t need someone to make me complete, but who is complete by myself, with myself.

I guess I didn’t realize that the road would be so lonely. Of course, it’s only been three days, so I’m withdrawing like an addict from the dating apps and the seduction and the witty repartee that I so loved when two people are establishing a flirtatious rapport with each other. Hopefully this is the uphill climb to the valley just over the ridge, and the road gets easier once I’ve reached this first crest.

Hopefully. We shall see. So come at me, 2016, and I’ll come at you.