Age at Time of Memory: 28/29
Current Age: 33
There are dozens of songs and memories within the realm of my perception, thousands of moments spent enthralled by music or by music makers; and any one of them can bring me back to those moments, and if i close my eyes, whole and true; i could be transported there, fleeting and wistful. Some of the moments are sweet, and some; loud and filled with emotion, and others still which resound like the waves of the music washing over me. The tolling bells of Rush’s Cygnus XI, the opening synthesizer of Styx’s Mr Roboto, the percussive beat of Toto’s Africa. Among all of these sound preserved memories, recently one brought back a flood of emotion that i have not thought about in years, a singularity in time that i will never be able to go back to, yet perfect and preserved in the raucous throaty voice and solid guitar work in Clutch’s 10001110101.
It was that shady time in my late 20s, perhaps i was 28, maybe i was 29- i had moved back to my parents house so that i could afford to purchase an iMac and save to get an apartment in Queens. Nearly ten years of supporting myself had weighed heavily upon me, and despite coming home to where many of my closest friends lived, i still found myself alone most nights. I bleached the top of my hair white and painted the lower layers a deep dark brown, and i commuted into Manhattan by train two hours each way, five days a week. I rarely had time or energy for anything other than work. I felt soulless, abandoned by my friends and devoid of inspiration. i felt that, even if someone did invite me out somewhere, i would just fade into the background and forget the entire ordeal, that memorable things just didn’t happen to me anymore. I didn’t feel alive at all.
That was when my phone rang. On the other end was a friend of mine of ten years, a man i’ll call E, the bass player of a band in the Hudson Valley and who i had met working crew at a theater show in 1999. For ten years we did an orbiting dance of passing in the night; when i was single~ he was not, and when he was single, i was not. Yet like eclipses, there were rare intervals when lightning would strike like a bolt from the blue, and for a small space in time where only we existed, we were able to share a friendship and love that to this day is more solid and real to me than nearly any other i have known. He was calling that night, offering to pick me up and bring me to his house, where his band was throwing a party. There had been many parties at this house, many times he had never called me nor asked me there, but this time he has his own car on the road, he was free of his ex-girlfriend and he proclaimed to miss me. My heart is the lonely hunter, and knowing no fear of hurt or betrayal from him, i jumped at the chance to spend a weekend not alone.
When we got to his house, he busied himself with party plans, and i sat on his couch and carefully drew deep inhales from the Camel Wide cigarettes he had given me. He began his playlist and i sunk into the cushions and we talked about life and his cats, about the band and his car, about work and how good it felt that after all these years we could pick up our friendship as if we hung out every day, as if nothing or no one had ever come between us. He looked at me in the way that he does and i felt young and pretty and strange, i felt like i was myself again. It was two hours before people would start to arrive, and the band went on a snack and booze run. He stayed behind and for two sweet hours we laughed and loved and devoured each other with the kind of hunger of those lost in a wilderness. When the band came back with party-goers and supplies, not one of them was wiser for it. E turned the music up loud and began his duties as the host, and i coasted through the party more comfortable in my skin than i had been in ages.
At one point i sat down next to the speakers, and the vibrations of the music sent electric charges up my skin like goosebumps. I closed my eyes and leaned back into it. Someone in the band said~ “hey, is it too loud for you?” and when i cracked my eyelids open to see if he was talking to me, E replied for me- reading my mind` “Nah, she’s more Metal than she looks. This is her kind of music.” I smiled at him, and he placed his hand upon my head and stroked my hair, cupping my chin as i looked up at him. It was singlehandedly the most intimate and connected moment we had ever shared. If i had known that was was the last time we could fully express how much love we really had for one another, i would have told him more adamantly. I would have been more urgent. Not that i think it could have changed him, or our situations, not that i think it would really have brought anything else to fruition other than that once again our paths went divergent- just for the sake know of my aching heart, who will forever have his imprint upon it.
The song on the speakers was the quirky, quixotic 10001110101, and to this day when it comes up upon my playlist, i am taken back to the smoke filled room, the dizzying party- and the feeling of his hand upon my hair. A perfect moment of love and happiness, preserved within the vibrations and noise of a nonsensical song. I can taste his skin upon my lips, i can recall the spark in his eyes. And as quick as it recalls to my memory, i am reminded of how we will never have a chance like that again.