Songs in the key of life.


All I Want, by Kodaline. 

We were at the river. At our spot. It wasn’t much; a thin spit of rocky beach that you reached by fording across a waist-deep stretch of river, shoes in hand and backpack on back. Feet slipping on the mossy rocks, the push of the river’s current against your legs both gentle and yet innately powerful; a father’s hand cradling his newborn’s head.

It wasn’t much but it was ours.

We spread out an old sleeping bag to diffuse the angles and harshness of the rocks underneath. We sat and watched the river plod by, endlessly. Sometimes when you see things that will endure long past you, you get a negative feeling, a feeling of your smallness and temporariness. Not so with the river and its flow; its enduring nature was a source of great comfort: you worrying about how the world will go on without you, and the world turning and smiling at you, and saying that it would be all right.

Wind whistling through the high leaves on the other side of the river, limbs undulating like the arms of worshippers at a holy service. Eddies swirl lazily along the edge nearest us. She dips her toes in and turns to me and smiles and oh god, I’m falling again.

Save for the wind and the water and the small birds dipping and diving into and out of the river, we are alone. We make love there, on my dusty old sleeping bag. I don’t use “make love” lightly or meaninglessly; I have loved two women in this world, and she was one of them, and when we came together, it was with a different connection than simply just fucking. You know what I’m talking about. Even though you are an awkward construction of limbs and hips and heart and mouth, you fit together perfectly, with a satisfying click of fitting the last piece into a jigsaw puzzle that you’ve spent your whole life building.

After, spent, we lay next to each other. I had brought my wireless speaker because I love having a soundtrack to my life everywhere I go. Music is not a distraction but an amplification of life. This song came on, this perfect song, and as I lay there, the warmth of her body still fading from my skin, the heat of the sun on my back, the water gurgling past just feet away and the wind sighing through the trees – nature working to create its own song to fill in the occasional silences of the song coming from the speaker – as I lay there, and the song built into a glorious crescendo (from 3:30 – 4:30 if you’re listening along) I felt completely and complexly satisfied, all needs and urges and insecurities and distractions for a moment all silenced, lulled to sleep by melody.

Sometimes I catch myself staring into the mirror, or staring at the ceiling at night in my bed, and this feeling hits me, this feeling that none of this is real. That I somehow died that moment at the river; my heart stopped, or the world itself decided to stop turning, and it all ended right there, along that rocky bank, and all of what has passed since then has been my mind’s last fevered dream, some sort of death throe where it creates an illusion that is just simultaneously shitty and wonderful enough to pass for reality so that I won’t realize that I am dead, so that it can continue on in this illusion, and thus maintain some approximation of life.

And then I catch myself thinking that if that is true – that if that day at the river was my last day – then that is perfectly, wonderfully all right.

And if that wasn’t my last day, and if one day I will lay in my real twilight hour, I feel assured that this moment at the river will be one of the last moments I think of. And if I have the mind and muscles to do so, I will smile.

Wherever you are, R, thank you for being a part of that moment with me.