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.