We were curled up on her couch, bundled up in a thick wool blanket to ward off the November chill. The exceptionally long school week was finally over, and the frustrating banalities that accompany high school were behind us, at least for the next two days. So we were content to spend our Friday afternoon sequestered from the real world, enjoying the pleasant moment of solace that emotionally-charged teenaged couples are rarely able to find.
Lucy playfully rubbed her back against me as we spooned, masking her devious intent with a feigned desire to get closer. Without warning, she ripped open the blanket as she jumped over to fiddle with the living room stereo, deaf to my complaint about letting in the cold air. By the time she rejoined me on the couch, the speakers started to play soft instrumental music, based heavily around the accordion, violin, and piano.
“Does this sound familiar at all?” She asked as she rejoined me in our little blanket cocoon. Oh God. Of course it did. It was Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack to Amelie, that awful chick-flick that all men in committed relationships are forced to sit through. We saw the movie together two weeks before, and when she asked me what I thought of it, I did what any man in my position would do— I told her it was a fantastic film, and that I was charmed by the plucky personality of the heroine played by Audrey Tautou. I loathed that movie and was bored by the soundtrack that was playing, but at that moment I could care less. Lucy and I were young, dumb, and in love, and I wished that moment could last forever.
But all good things must come to an end, and love is rarely an exception.
“JessicaRibbit (12:25:23 AM): omg you have to listen to this” My computer bleeped from the incoming instant message, causing an annoying interruption of Julian Casablancas’ vocals. It was the middle of “midterm hell week”, and Jessica and I both had an insane amount of studying to do so we thought it’d be best if we kept our libidos in check and not distract each other by being in the same room together. Instead we distracted ourselves by keeping AIM on and sharing music files with each other.
She sent me “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. I have a habit of analyzing life events as if I were living inside a novel, so I was pretty sure the song was significant to her character in some way. So, channeling the mix-tape guidelines from High Fidelity, I shared some of my favorite, highly personal songs with Jessica before delving into her own music selections, listening closely to see what I could glean about her personality, her wants, her fears.
She never bothered to get around to listening to my list. That was the story of our relationship dynamic, really. Relationships depend on Give-and-Take to survive, but I always seemed to be the only one doing the giving.
Eve didn’t really know much about music. Her bookshelf was lined with accessible, easily-marketable pap like Sixpence None the Richer and Enya. But she was willing learn more about the world of music that meant so much to me, so we spent an afternoon cuddling in her room while my iPod went through its shuffled playlist. “Hold Yr Terror Close” by The Go! Team caught her attention during the make-out session, and she stopped to give the song a serious listen.
I wanted to tell her about how the piano in the song reminded me of Schroeder from the old Charlie Brown holiday specials. I wanted her to know how the song made me feel about the passing of childhood and youth, about my thoughts on the dissipation of innocence and bittersweet attempts to reclaim it after it’s already gone. I wanted her to know about my apprehension about being her first relationship, my fears about becoming the guy who’s remembered for taking someone’s innocence from them. I wanted her to know all these things, all because that one little song started playing. Instead, the song ended and we went right back to making out.
Things got physical too soon.
We weren’t ready, and there was nothing we could do to fix things.
Portia was beautiful, but unattainable. And I was okay with that, because she was an amazing friend. We lounged on cheap plastic chairs, basking in the warm June sun on a patio overlooking the central part of campus. To anyone who walked passed our table, we must have looked like complete dorks as we shared earbud headphones while listening to Timbaland’s “Apologize.” I don’t usually listen to popular Top 40 artists, but Portia had a knack for making me suppress my music elitism and enjoy music for what it is.
I was graduating in two weeks, but she still had a year to go, so it was one of the last times we’d be able to hang out together. We lazed about and wasted a good two hours just sitting, listening to music, watching the world pass us by.
I miss her dearly.
I’m done listening to the CD, so I slip it back into its sleeve and toss it onto the “Bad” pile that I have next to my desk. Some pianist from Ontario sent in an album for review, and its composition reminded me of that damn Amelie soundtrack that I was lucky enough to have avoided hearing after so many years. But the memories remain, and I let out an exasperated sigh as my brain conjures up unwanted and unpleasant thoughts about the women who are no longer in my life, for better or worse.
“What was wrong with that one?” asks Stephanie, my editor, who hears my audible sigh and interprets it as disgust. “I didn’t think it was half bad.”
“Nothing wrong with the album really,” I respond briskly as I move on to the next album, not really wanting to get into it. “It’s just been done before, that’s all.”
So we beat on…