I’ve been working on the next chapter of “We Make a Little History” (a “history” of us that I’ve been slowly creating as a post series), and it has taken me back to the beginnings and all our “firsts”. So many songs flood my mind and memories while I revisit the start of our love. Today, one of the songs he sent me (we trade songs when we are apart, something we’ve done since before we met in person) was a track that took me back to the start, and back around the time, I’m writing about. I’ve played it a few times already and had to stop and take a break from the next installment in order to do a Song of the Day, because this song that he sent to me this afternoon needs to be today’s Song of the Day, without a doubt.
“If You Need Me” was originally recorded by Wilson Pickett, in 1963. It became a bigger hit later by Solomon Burke, who sent the song to #2 on the R&B charts that year. (from Wikipedia)
Today’s Song of the Day is the original, by Wilson Pickett, the version that my love sent me today, and the version I remember him sending me at the start of our relationship. The version that is one of “our” songs, one of the many that will be with us always. Though the Burke version is great, this version, the original, is my favorite – especially since it is full of so many memories of us.
“If You Need Me” (1963) by Wilson Pickett
Song of the Day
“If You Need Me” was written by Wilson Pickett with two former members of the Satintones, Robert Bateman and Sonny Sanders. It was recorded originally by Pickett on March 15, 1963, for Lloyd Price’s Detroit-based Double L Records. It had been rejected by Jerry Wexler, who nevertheless had purchased the publishing rights. According to Solomon Burke, Pickett gave the song to him on a tour bus:
“Wilson sang the song for me in a bus on a tour. I loved it so much that I got Wilson to do it. Atlantic refused to sign him at that time, so we got Wilson to release the song on the Lloyd-Logan label. We were the best of friends. As a matter of fact, I promoted his record and he promoted mine.”
However, Pickett claims Wexler lifted it from demo tapes he had sent to Atlantic. Burke recalled in 2003:
“I was furious when Wexler rejected Pickett [and] when radio personality the Magnificent Montague started spinning Pickett’s original version, Wexler rushed out Burke’s, with both in Billboard’s ‘Singles Review’ column on April 13 and both featured on Billboard’s ‘Artists’ Biographies’ on May 4, 1963.”
Although Burke ultimately won the chart war, Burke broke rank and supported his rival:
“I would go to the radio stations and say, ‘Hi, I’m Solomon Burke, and I’m here promoting the new record “If You Need Me”…by Wilson Pickett.’”
“If You Need Me” by Solomon Burke
Despite his efforts, Burke’s version jockeyed with Pickett’s for position in the ‘Hot 100’, before “beating Pickett to the punch” because of “Solomon’s popularity and Atlantic’s distribution.” Both versions featured Cissy Houston singing backup vocals.
Although he was still angry, in 1964, Pickett signed with Atlantic because he needed the money. While Burke’s version spent 5-weeks at #2 in the R&B charts in the Summer of 1963, it was kept from the #1 position by Jackie Wilson’s “Baby Workout” and Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night”. Pickett’s original stalled at #64 in the Pop charts, and #30 on the R&B chart.
I still prefer Pickett’s, and it will always feature high in the “charts” of our songs.
One more cover for the end of today’s Song of the Day. This one by The Rolling Stones. Enjoy.
“If You Need Me” by The Rolling Stones
There are moments when you can feel a shift in emotion. When you can feel things start or stop. When you can feel things begin, end, or grow. Last night, listening to the Bob Dylan’s 1974 album, Planet Waves, and hearing “Never Say Goodbye” play, today’s Song of the Day, I felt a significant shift in feeling. I felt the love that I have expand and grow exponentially. It was already such a huge thing to me, and yet, at that moment, I felt it become bigger. I knew then that what he’s been saying about us is true. Truer than true even. That we are just beginning. That we will become something better and better as we go. Last night, I believed it in a way that is beyond conscious thought. In a way that is an internal knowing. A part of me. Like he is a part of me. Like we are a part of me. And, like our growing love is a part of me.
He and I have a growing list of songs we have deemed to be our songs. “Never Say Goodbye” is one of them. It has been since we both listened to this album together, back in that room he used to live in, back in that room where we began, in so many ways. I’m certain that we’ve both sent it to each other, as well. Every time I’ve heard it, since we’ve been together, it’s meaning has grown, too. Just as our love does. And with each listen, I feel more and more certain that this is what I’ve waited my life to find. Him. Us. Our love.
Driving to work this morning I kept thinking about last night. And, I kept hitting repeat on this song. I feel like this shift is important. That this realization of how much we can still grow in love with each other is important. That the bumps and rough days we’ve been dealing with it, though not over necessarily, can shift and change, too. I truly believe that this is the start of something new with us, too. That maybe we will be able to get through things differently. Better. In closer, and more together way. Or, maybe that’s just how I’m feeling this morning. It feels great though, feeling this way, believing this way, and loving this much.
“Never Say Goodbye” by Bob Dylan
from the album, Planet Waves (1974)
Song of the Day
“The crashing waves roll over me,
as I stand upon the sand,
wait for you to come,
and grab hold of my hand.”
I keep trying to write more, but it’s hard sometimes to look back. I’m such a believer in things not just being good in the beginning. I tend to hold to the belief that things get better as you get to know each other more, love more, grow together, and become something more. But, I can’t deny that at the start it felt better than right now. Maybe it’s because it was easier. We were so new and fell so hard, so fast. Too fast? It’s possible. Though hindsight is 20/20, as “they” say. Whoever “they” are.
We are here now. How we got here is part of our history, and the second day, and night, together certainly changed things. It made it all bigger, more vital, and harder to not push for more. Was it too much too soon? I don’t think so. I’m not sure we could have slowed down even if we wanted to. And neither of us wanted to. At least I know for certain that I didn’t want to.
I woke that morning still full of the night before. I was spinning in it. The memories. The excitement. The love that was impossible to deny. I wrote in a paper journal about how it all felt. Though I’d suspected we would be something together. Though I had so many feelings before we’d ever met in person. I still never expected it to be this big. I had completely fallen for him. I couldn’t wait to see him again.
We were meant to see each other the next day. Sunday morning. For breakfast. I had plans for the afternoon and in the evening. I spent the morning writing. Finding a song that fit what I was feeling so perfectly (the song in this post). We texted back-and-forth. Rapid speed, like before. I didn’t want to stop. I ended up late for my workshop, and all through it I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to him, and us.
And then my evening plans changed. I unexpectedly had the night free. We’d talked about me coming to his place sometime. Not this night, but sometime soon. But, here I was with the night available, and all I could think was I’d like to spend it with him. He said yes and we made plans for me to meet him at his brother’s place, where he was staying above the garage, for dinner, and to hang out and listen to music after.
One could say that at that point I knew where the night would end up, but honestly, I didn’t. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to see him, be with him, and have more of what we’d started the night before.
We went to dinner first. A place that would become one of our favorites. A place that was already one of his. La Bamba, in Burbank. The food was amazing. The company more. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I do vividly recall feeling frustrated that there was a table between us. I’d felt the same way the night before. It seemed hard not to be able to touch, or kiss, him.
Conversation was easier than it had first been the night before. That said, there was a sense of tension and impatience in the air. I think we both were feeling the need to be able to touch, and kiss. To not be in public. My appetite was barely there. I was way too distracted by all the feelings and emotions to eat, even though the food was delicious.
“In My Life” by The Beatles
“Though I know I’ll never lose affection,
for people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
In my life,
I love you more.”
When we finished we walked together to his car. He grabbed my hand again. Even now, holding hands with him is one of my favorite things. It’s a simple gesture, I know, but one that has been absent in nearly all my relationships in the past. It is a lovely thing, holding hands. Intimate and tender, and something that is underrated, I think. Though there have been songs written about it.
We went in through the main house, which meant meeting his sister-in-law, who was suffering from a summer cold on the couch. She was sweet, but it was still very uncomfortable. The introvert in me comes on strong when meeting new people, especially important people in someone’s life, for the first time. That small talk thing, and feeling self-conscious and worried that they won’t like me. Luckily, it seemed like she liked me. It wouldn’t always be so easy meeting his family members, but this time, it was.
Again, I never thought how it might have looked that I was going back to his room. That I was new. I honestly didn’t think what it might mean to him, to me, or to us. I just wanted more time together, alone, like it had been the night before in the park. I wasn’t thinking further ahead than that. I wasn’t thinking further than just being able to kiss him again.
We kissed. A lot.
We listened to music. He played a playlist that has since become one of my favorites of any and all playlists I’ve ever heard. So many songs that have now become part of our soundtrack. Part of this history that I’m trying to tell.
Sometimes I really, really miss when we listened to music more. When we were excited and anxious to hear what the other thought of certain songs, artists, bands.
We talked. A lot.
We talked about big things. Really big things. It was that night that he told me about his depression. It was that night that I told him some of what happened to me as a young girl. I’m pretty sure these topics are not considered second date subjects. But, nothing about us has been by any standards or expected paces.
We kissed more.
The night started to unwind more. The music was enveloping us. The room was growing darker. Our bodies moved closer to each other. We’d long since stopped sitting next to each other on his bed. Now we were lying next to each other. Close. Very much in each other’s arms.
Conversation started to slow down. Kissing started to heat up. His hand was on my shoulders, my arms, and making circular shapes with his fingers on my hip. I was still not thinking ahead. Nor was I making any considerations or decisions on where this was leading. To me, there were no limits to us. There hadn’t been since we’d first started talking. Everything felt right. We felt right.
He broke the silence then. Stopping kissing me for a moment and said, “I think we should wait until Friday to make love.”
(We’d made plans to go somewhere on Friday. I think we’d decided on a hotel. Somewhere where neither of us would have to go home too soon. Where we could wake up next to each other).
Wait? I never thought of waiting, or not waiting. Not even right then. Was waiting what we should do?
His hand was still on me. Lowering his touch until he was tracing the line of my underwear just under my skirt. We started to kiss again. I think I’d said okay to his suggestion, though I can’t be sure I said anything at all. It seemed important to him to wait, though his actions seemed in contrast to his words.
He broke the kiss again and said, “let me know if I cross a boundary.”
But, was there any boundaries between us? Really? Are there boundaries with someone you fall in love with on the first date? I already knew I loved him more than anyone I’d ever loved before.
Instead of saying okay I just kissed him again.
To be continued…
So, where were we?
Ah yes. Our first date. After dinner, out on the sidewalk, hands held, and the overwhelming desire to make all time stop. Right there. Right then. With us out there in the warm evening. Together.
But, time doesn’t freeze, does it? And the world around us was moving about and felt distracting, chaotic. The street fair was dismantling. We had to walk around people and things being taken down and put away. I don’t remember who asked what next. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was him. I remember agreeing that we weren’t ready for the night to end. And, if I recall correctly, he asked if there was somewhere we could sit together and have a drink.
I knew there were places. Some that I’d been to, others I’d just seen passing by. But my head was full of electricity and excitement, my stomach still full of flapping, fluttering butterflies, and I could not think of anything. So, we walked. We crossed the street. We spotted London, a pub type place that I’d heard about, but never been inside. I was hoping for something akin to an English pub, as it seemed to look, and as the name suggested. Or even a dive, preferably half-empty (or more), and dark, with good music. It was none of those things.
The music was dance-pop bad. It was crowded and loud. But, we were there and at least there were places to sit outside. I excused myself to the bathroom as he went to order us drinks. Two rum and diet cokes. A favorite drink of mine since I first started ordering drinks. In the bathroom I sent a quick text to my oldest daughter, telling her how wonderful the date was. How wonderful he was. Kind, funny, interesting. And, how I didn’t want the night to end. She responded back quickly with “awwww”. I sent off another quick text to a good friend who had sent a message to me earlier in the evening, asking about our writing group the next day. I told her I’d see her then and that I was actually out on a date, something unexpected had happened, something amazing. She also responded back quickly saying that she wanted many details tomorrow.
My nerves were back, but not as extreme. These were more of the excited kind, with desire and hopefulness weaved through in a myriad of colors. I felt like music (and not the bad dance-pop type) was spinning through me. I couldn’t wait to be out there with him again, but I needed to catch my breath. I told myself to slow down, to not get carried away. I reminded myself that timing was not great and that I’d just gone through something that ended badly. That I was still hurt. That I should be cautious and careful. But, as I turned to go back out the door a bigger part of me said “fuck it. I want this” and an overwhelming “this feels right. More than right. This feels like everything”.
Slowing down was something that would never happen with us, and I think at that moment I knew that for certain. And, even though I was scared, I welcomed it. I wanted all of it. I wanted him and us.
“Heroes” by David Bowie
“And we kissed,
as though nothing could fall.“
We made our way outside, finding a table, and taking seats across from each other. It felt to far from each other. After that first kiss, and a few others on the street, and after holding hands, I wanted to be closer. I didn’t like not being able to touch him. But, I stayed where I was, basking in the fact that at least I could look at him. See his eyes. Watch his lips move as he talked. And let him take my hands in his every so often.
I barely touched my drink. Like the food before, it seemed to be the last thing I wanted. But I took a few sips here and there. I remember it was strong, but not strong enough to cut through the way I felt. We talked about music. The conversation seemed to flow easier as our nerves unfurled. It felt more like the ease of our texts, even easier at times. Nick Cave was discussed. Favorite albums and songs. How we wanted to see him live sometime. Maybe together? We talked about the upcoming X show he’d asked me about in one of our first text exchanges. We talked in a way that seemed like we’d known each other for much longer than we had like we’d been dating for months. It really didn’t feel anything like a first date anymore.
Before we were ready to even think of leaving a security person came by and said we had to take our drinks inside. I think he gave a reason, but I didn’t hear. Like the hostess and the wait staff that kept interrupting us at the restaurant, his presence felt like an intrusion. I really wanted everyone but us to just go away. I never remember feeling that way before. With anyone. All I wanted was just to be with him, and nothing else.
We abandoned our drinks. I think he finished his. Mine was still halfway there. I honestly didn’t care at all. We walked back out on the sidewalk and I exhaled happily, like in relief, that I got to be close to him again. That I could touch him again. We still were nowhere near ready to leave, but where could we go now?
I vividly remember thinking that if he asked me – right there – to hop in his car and run away with him to anywhere, that I would have said yes.
My car was parked about six blocks from the downtown street we were on. By a park. I hadn’t thought much that it was there until right then. It is a small park, with a gate around it. A park that always seemed private. I remember when my kids were small I’d take them there and we’d always be the only ones. Never another kid. It always seemed like a secret park we’d stumbled on. I mentioned it and asked if he wanted to walk to my car and sit in the park for a while together.
We made our way there, to the secret park, hand-in-hand. We talked excitedly. My heart was pounding crazily in my chest. As we neared the park he said that what he was going to ask me might sound crazy and then he asked if he could call me his girlfriend. That crazily pounding heart of mine? It skipped about eight beats and nearly burst out of my chest. At some point, I swear I’d turned into a swoony teenager who just had the boy she liked ask her to prom.
I said yes. Of course. And said something about the fact that we were getting married tomorrow anyway, so it only made sense.
(Flashback to when he’d texted me about getting married, and I said we should have dinner first – well, we’d had dinner)
I vividly remember thinking that if he’d asked me again – to marry him – right there, outside of the secret park, I would have said yes.
We found a picnic table type bench to sit at. Close. Close enough to touch. To hold hands. To kiss and kiss and kiss. I had to keep touching him. My hands had to be on him at all times. On his hands. His chest. His arm. His leg. We talked, but I don’t remember about what. All I really remember was being that close. To how perfect it felt. How this felt like a dream, one I’d had since I was a young girl, but never thought was possible to feel with someone. I could feel years and years of hurt, of pain, of disappointment, of loss, of loneliness start to fall off me. Pieces flying off into the night. And the wall I’d built around me for all those many years, and more…I could feel it cracking.
I looked at him. Those kind eyes I’d noticed when I first saw his picture. All these spots on his face that I already adored and wanted to touch and kiss. I heard his voice and felt his fingers lacing in-between mine. I felt his lips on mine. The passion there. The heat. The unmistakable pull. And right then I knew it for sure. How I felt.
I could see us in the future. Age and time having their way as age and time do. Some thirty years from that moment. I could see us still sitting close together. Hands entwined. Talking and not talking. Being happy together. Being us.
I knew I wanted every moment I could have with him. Every single one. As much as I could get.
I knew, without a doubt, that I loved him. That I had completely fallen in love with him.
Told you there was no slowing down.
It was far too late for that.
Daughter came to me from my daughter. I think she heard one of their songs in a film, but I’m not quite sure. I devoured their EP Wild Youth, and have been a fan of theirs ever since. I’ve been re-reading (listening) to God-Shaped Hole (by Tiffanie DeBartolo) this week, and the conversation between Beatrice and Jacob about everyone’s “God-Shaped Hole” resonated more with me than any other time I’ve read the book.
“We’re all searching for something to fill up what I like to call that big, God-shaped hole in our souls. Some people use alcohol, or sex, or their children, or food, or money, or music, or heroin. A lot of people even use the concept of God itself. I could go on and on. I used to know a girl who used shoes. She had over two-hundred pairs. But it’s all the same thing, really. People, for some stupid reason, think they can escape their sorrows.” – Jacob Grace
I was listening to a playlist afterward, while I pulled reports at work this morning, and Daughter’s song “Medicine” came on. Something about the song and the quote above weaved together and sewed itself (themselves) into me. Is there really any kind of medicine that actually helps anyone? Can a person be medicine for another person? Is love enough to heal another person? Is love enough to fill that “God-Shaped Hole” we all have inside of us? Can love make you happy? Can it make someone else happy, even if that someone else is so deeply unhappy?
“Medicine” by Daughter
from the EP, Wild Youth (2012)
Song of the Day
“You could still be,
what you want to be,
what you said you were,
when you met me.
When you met me.”
I’m not big on God or the concept of. I’ve spent a lot of time studying him, and the concepts of. More time than I may have chosen for myself (years in parochial school will do that). I’m still not quite sure what I believe in, in the God regard. But, I do believe in love, and hope, and in finding your bliss and hanging on to it. I believe I found the love I want to have in my life forever, and beyond (if there is a beyond). I believe I found the bliss I started to doubt existed, the love I thought was not possible, at least not for me. It makes my heart soar. It gives me flapping butterflies in my stomach, racing heartbeats when I’m near him, and desire that is like nothing I’ve ever felt. I feel so much joy its hard to contain.
I want to say “I love you” all the time.
I do say it all the time.
In the midst of all that joy and desire and extraordinary love is a vulnerability I’ve never experienced. A vulnerability I’ve never allowed myself to experience. The walls I built around me have been under-construction since I was a small child. Walls that were impenetrable.
He managed to knock them down. Our love knocked them down. And inside is me. Scared and younger than my years, gooey and soft and emotional, fragile in many ways, but happy nonetheless. And so in love. I’m not used to all these emotions though. I’m not used to tears that seem to come so fucking easy. I’m not used to not being strong and controlled, with the proverbial one foot on the ground (or out the door). I’m not used to loving like this, wanting like this, needing like this.
It’s all worth it though. The happiness I feel, the extraordinary love, the hope and belief and joy, it is enormous and beautiful and worth everything. But, he’s in pain and sad and some days he seems to be disappearing in front of me. I grab on tighter to keep him with me. I try to love all the hurt and sad and worry away. I try to do anything I can possibly think of to help. I try to bring back the happiness he seemed to have when we met. In those first days. Those first weeks. I try to search my memories to think of what I gave to him then, what was present, that helped more. I try to recapture it.
I’d take all the pain on myself if I could. Every ounce of it. I’d honestly do anything to help him. But, most of the time, there is nothing I can do. Sometimes that hurts. Sometimes it makes me feel very alone and scared and sad. And when that happens it’s like some god-damn virus that spreads to him, making his sad and worry and hurt worse. It applies pressure on top of things that are overwhelming him and seeing that hearing it, watching it happen hurts me more. The hurt surrounds us and tightens around us, like a constricting snake, and we have to work our way back out again. To each other. With each other.
We do it though. We make it through.
Most nights we find a way to connect. And when we do, those moments are everything. They are what I saw in our first exchange of words, in that first moment I saw him, that first embrace, that first kiss, the first time we said “I love you”, when we’ve held each other while music played, when we’ve laughed together, and every time we’ve made love since the first time.
Maybe all that is medicine enough. Maybe we are medicine enough. Maybe, with enough time, with all the love that we have in our bodies, and souls, with enough belief, maybe that is the medicine he needs. Maybe its the medicine I need, too. I don’t know.
All I know for sure is that I love him. I bigger than love him. And I’m not ever going to stop. I’m never going to give any of this up. Not a moment of it. Not ever. I just hope I can find a way to fill that “God-Shaped Hole”, for lack of a better description, in him. That I can fill it, and build a bridge across the chasm that it creates between us. That I can knock down his walls now, the ones that seem to be growing. That I can love enough, believe enough, hope enough and impart joy enough to make a difference. To him. That he knows, without a doubt, how much he means to me.
I’m never going to stop trying.
“Medicine” (live) by Daughter
I’ve never been to New York. I’ve seen it from a distance when I was in New Jersey briefly for work. The skyline was off to my right as we drove towards a client meeting. I could trace the lines of the building with my fingers on the passenger side glass. It felt unfair to be so close. I’ve read about New York in books, poems, and short stories. I’ve seen it in countless films. And, I’ve heard the city in so much music. PJ Harvey’s album, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea always feels like New York to me. The New York I know in my dreams, and imaginings. Every track feels like the city to me. I feel like if I ever get to visit I need to walk around, at least once, with headphones in, and listen to this album while being in New York.
Though the album feels like New York to me, it also has other memories attached to it. “You Said Something” reminds me of an apartment in Chicago and a conversation I had there. “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore” reminds me of a character I’m writing, “This Is Love” reminds me of this past month and of falling deeply in love, and this song, “Horses In My Dreams”, now reminds me of driving around at night this past weekend with the man I love listening to it together.
Maybe one day we can listen to this song, and the album, together in New York.
“Horses In My Dreams” by Polly Jean Harvey
from the album, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
Song of the Day
“Rode a horse round the world,
along the tracks of a train,
broke the record,
found the gold –
set myself free again.”
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is PJ Harvey’s fifth studio album. It was recorded from March to April in 2000 and contains themes of love that are tied into Harvey’s affection for New York City.
That said, she has insisted in interviews that it is not “my New York album”. Though many of the songs were inspired by the nine months she lived in New York while working on a film as an actor, she also wrote some of the album’s tracks while in London and at her home, in Dorset. (from Wikipedia)
“Horses In My Dreams” (live) by Polly Jean Harvey
It was the day before we were set to meet. The day before our “first date”. It seems like so long ago now, and at the same time, it seems like it could have been yesterday. We texted and traded songs off-and-on all day, with very few pauses. We started sending songs at the same time, or when there were breaks in the conversation, we’d say something to each other at the same time. In stereo.
My nerves ebbed and flowed throughout the day. Those teenage butterflies burst into flight every time my phone chimed. I was excited and scared, nervous and stunned that this was all happening. All that said, though, there was an undercurrent of hope in all of it. There was something here that seemed destined. I knew we were already connected. I knew, too, that I had already fallen hard. I hoped that just maybe he had, too. It felt like we both had.
I kept imagining what it would be like to finally meet him. To see him face-to-face. To talk to each other in the same room. To not have a screen and a collection of songs to lean on. To risk that he might not like me in-person. That I might not be what he expected or wanted. That the attraction that seemed strong between us wouldn’t be there when he saw me.
My insecurities rattled chains throughout my body. They echoed in my head and kept my nerves dancing. I felt like the ghosts of Christmas decided to give Scrooge a break, and taunt and haunt me. I kept telling them to scram. To get lost. To shut the hell up. But they kept on and on and on.
But we kept on and on and on, too. Those conversations kept me breathing, wishing, hoping, and wanting. I wanted so bad for us to be an US. I felt so strongly that we had the potential to be an amazing US. In so many ways we felt like an US already.
“You and I” by Wilco and Leslie Feist
“You and I.
I think we can take it.
All the good with the bad,
make something that no one else has.”
Thursday was the longest day. Thursday night the longest night. I would never have made it through without the songs we traded, and the conversation we shared.
I was breathing. Barely.
Mostly, I was holding my breath and wishing.
It was almost 11pm.
I was trying to sleep.
I couldn’t get him out of my head.
I couldn’t silence the doubts that rattled from between my ribs up, up, up into the spaces between my eyes.
I closed my eyes.
I pressed play.
Polly Jean sang to me.
At almost 11 my phone chimed.
It was him.
Apologizing for the later hour. Saying I might be asleep but that he wanted to say goodnight.
I took a deep breath. Let it out. Tried to chide myself for letting someone I hardly knew effect me so much. I tried to convince myself that he didn’t have that much effect on me.
But, he did.
“The Desperate Kingdom of Love” (live) by Polly Jean Harvey
originally from the album, Uh Huh Her (2004)
“At the end of this burning world,
you’ll stand proud,
And, I’ll follow you,
into Heaven or Hell.
And, I’ll become,
as a girl,
in the desperate kingdom of love.”
I still couldn’t sleep. Insomnia is weaved into my DNA, I think. And, I was shaken up, surprised, relieved, unsure, and full of wanting.
What was happening to me?
What was this already becoming?
Was I the only one feeling so fucking much?
I closed my eyes.
I pressed play.
And, Polly Jean sang to me.
Three days in and we were a blur of traded texts and tracks. The conversation flowed without hesitation. It seemed like we had no awkward pauses, no blank spots, no shortage of things to say. The music spoke for us a lot of the time, too. But, we did do a lot of “talking”. I’m pretty sure my productivity at work slowed since my right hand was constantly grabbing for my phone to respond. It felt like we were spending our days together.
If I miss anything at all from those first days its that. I miss when we texted all day. Now it seems like full days go by without conversation, even though I keep a list of things I want to say, and songs I want to send, on tiny post-it notes. There’s still so much I want to say, and share.
By Wednesday, I was anxious for us to meet. Impatient even, though I knew I’d be a nervous wreck. But, I was sure I was going to have to wait. Family obligations had my time tied up for the weeknights, and I had plans for the weekend that were not changeable.
But then something magical happened (or should I say more magical). My Friday was cleared of obligation. I could see him a week earlier. I felt breathless with excitement. I also felt the rattle of nerves snaking around those persistent butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous to ask him if he wanted to see me early. Even though my obligations had lifted, I was still between paychecks broke. I’m not built for people paying for anything for me, its not something I’ve ever been comfortable with, so assuming he’d want to see me, and not mind covering dinner, seemed daunting.
But, my wanting to meet him outweighed everything and I asked. He said yes. Our date was now set in mere DAYS. I did a ridiculous little dance around my office and my assistant laughed hysterically at me. I could feel my heart racing. I could also feel the shadow of doubt, fear, and insecurity slowly bringing its dark cover my way. I didn’t want it to ruin this. I didn’t want it near me, at all.
But he was there texting me. Sending songs. Conversing with me without pause. How could the shadow hit me with all of that going on? If anything, I started to feel confident that this was going to be something BIG. That we were really going to be something.
“Lose You” by Pete Yorn
“Cause I’m gonna lose you.
Yes, I’m gonna lose you.
If I’m gonna lose you,
I’ll lose you now for good.”
He had plans to see his sons that late afternoon/evening and told me he’d be away from his phone. He told me I’d hear from him when he was done. I remember feeling that warm rush of feeling overtake me. After my own experiences with fathers (absent, abusive, gone), it made me like him, even more, to read that he’d be with them.
I was going to miss our constant connection, but it was for the best of reasons.
I spent the evening with my own kids. We made dinner together and laughed at each other. My daughter sat in the living room with me and watched TV. But mostly we talked about him. About my upcoming date. About all of it.
I confided to her that I was afraid the timing of all this was lousy. It had been just a smidgen over a month since my break-up and I knew I was fragile emotionally, and terribly insecure because of how the break-up had been handled. I told her I was thinking maybe I should cancel, but then when I thought about it felt so wrong I couldn’t bear it.
She told me, “screw the timing”. She asked me, “what if this is the person you are supposed to be with and you don’t go for it because you’re afraid?” I said, “I don’t want this to be a regret. What if’s are the worst words ever.” She said (not asked) “you like him a lot already.”
Yes, yes I did. More than that really.
I was going to see him.
I couldn’t wait to see him.
I wanted to see him RIGHT THEN.
So, I opened up the app we met in. The one we hadn’t returned to since we’d moved our seemingly endless conversation to text. I wanted to see his pictures. I wanted to save our first words. I wanted to delete that app completely because I had no desire to talk to anyone else.
But, when I opened it our conversation was gone.
It was then that I noticed how late it had gotten.
I’d not heard a word from him.
That’s when all the doubt, panic, worry, and security came rushing in. The shadows they cast made everything dark and I felt tears in my eyes. Had he gone? Was this him ending things? The thought of it hurt more than I could have expected. How could this hurt so much? I hadn’t even met him yet. All I had were a couple of days talking and trading music. But…
those days had been everything.
And it was then I realized just how much I cared already. How HUGE my feelings were. And how much it hurt to think I’d already lost him.