This morning I am baking and listening to a CD. When I hear Bryan
Adams’s voice singing about loving someone, I get a chill. I remember
that concert and the boy who took me. The boy who decided not to take
the other girl, but took me instead. It’s tricky when you’re a teen
and you think it won’t ever happen, that no one will ask you. Or
worse, what if they do ask– what do you do? Looking back with the
glasses of experience, I can see the potential and sweet possibility
in those times.
The other night lying in bed, book in hand, I thought of my friends
who recently eloped. I imagined how much fun it must be to create your
own schedule, to sleep in, to have breakfast in bed, to enjoy your
spouse’s company; to laugh and goof around and be playful. The
luxurious feeling like you’ve found the person you want to be with
forever and the path stretches in front of you far beyond the realms
of sight and understanding.
That is not my life. It may have been once upon a time, but after
twenty years together we are content. We are loved and we are happy.
It is comfortable, but not thrilling, the love songs do not fill me
with a sense of longing or desire for a mysterious person I haven’t
yet met. But listening to certain songs it all comes flooding back:
the hope, the waiting for the call, the talking for hours and trying
to interpret meaning out of pauses. My boyfriend in highschool used to
make me mix tapes. He curated his favorite songs into a playlist he
hoped I would enjoy and at the same time introduce me to something
new. I learned a lot about bands and music this way and when we were
apart I would put a tape into my walkman and feel like he was there
with me, much like Eleanor does in Rainbow Rowell’s fabulous YA novel,
“Eleanor and Park.” In fact there’s a passage there that speaks to
those of us who read Young Adult novels even though we are far beyond
the age of the intended audience:
“Someone else, someone with a heart. Mr. Sheridan, what beats in your
chest? Tell us why Romeo and Juliet survived four hundred years?”
“Because…” he said quietly, looking at his desk, “because people
want to remember what it’s like to be young? And in love?”
Mr Stessman leaned back against the blackboard and rubbed his beard.
“Is that right?” Park asked.
“Oh it’s definitely right,” Mr. Stessman said. “I don’t know if that’s
why Romeo and Juliet has become the most beloved play of all time.
But, yes, Mr. Sheridan. Truer words never spoken.”
I know people say they wouldn’t go back, that you could offer them
millions of dollars and they wouldn’t relive their high school days
again. Me, I’d go back and do it all over again. There is a tenderness
in our younger years that balances out the despair. Friends are the
armor against mean girls and bullies. The world is still yours for the
taking. A certain song on the radio–though you are unaware of it at
the moment– will forever connect you with another.