A friend is always good to have, but a lover’s kiss is better than angels raining down at me.
~ Dave Matthews Band
1985 . . .
The air in my basement bedroom is cool but my face is hot with tears. I’m on my back, hands covering my face, feeling more than I am capable of comprehending, the first side of Journey’s Frontiers winding down with “Faithfully” . . .
. . . Oh girl, you stand by me / I’m forever yours . . .
Certainly no circus, my life is instead the great boredom of being a teenager, all humdrum and weariness. Yet it is often lived muffled and dim and panting through the flattering sweaty gauze of 80s melodrama. I’m a sucker for a love song even as I struggle to find it, to be held in arms that hold nothing but me.
June 1, 2009 . . .
I stare for a minute at my stir fry, glance around the room at the shuffling of customers and servers, check my Blackberry and read an unimportant email for the third time, realize I’m avoiding meeting the eyes of my wife on this day-of-all-days. So I sit it all aside and look at her. Really look. And I’m taken back . . .
Winter, 1988 . . .
. . . to a time when looking at one another came easy. The simple things, the easy moments, the time spent just staring . . .
. . . carried no weight at all. We floated on a new wind; let it sweep us up, away from the pressures and expectations. Finally, I had a tiny clue what Steve Perry and Co. were singing about. We got some nicer pictures made . . .
. . . and then invited some friends to play dress-up with us on Saturday, June 1, 1991. . .
The day had its glitches: it rained for a spell; my brother-in-law-to-be failed to show up, despite a Herculean attempt to do so, so we had to scramble for a new tuxedo with less than an hour to go; I got bird seed in my eye, a kernel somehow sneaking beneath those enormous Deflecta Shield spectacles.
And there have been glitches aplenty since that day eighteen years ago. The winds that helped us soar have also brought us low, spun us around, and left us parched. For my part, I find it hard to catch her gaze for fear that she’ll see the tears I can’t help crying these days. Tears borne of regrets and opportunities squandered and hope left perched precariously on the edge, afraid to fly.
I know that she won’t let me quit, so I keep her at arm’s length; I push her away with a roll of the eyes or a silence that resounds in the space between us. Passive aggressive bullshit meets its match only when I allow myself to be taken back . . .
. . . to when a promise was still a promise. When my lover’s kiss eased the pain and her embrace gave me strength. Even in a photo booth. After all these years, she still kisses me like she digs me. After all these years, she wakes up next to me each morning and tells me she loves me. And, after all these years, I know she means it.
After all these years, despite how cheesy and melodramatic they may be, I think the guys from Journey still say it best . . .