Crash into a boy’s dream…
Day Two of the Challenge:
Ah, first love. How appropriate that Dave Matthews Band’s Crash came out at the precipice of my first love. Even when I heard the title track, I was aware that it hinted at a more mature love, but no matter; teenagers grow up faster than time suspects. Initially, this was not on my list of the ten requested—it’s nearly impossible to pick ten, so I picked 12, and we’ll see who makes the “final” cut. Yet, as I listened to Spotify yesterday, “#41” came on, and I was drawn immediately into the swirling sound of an accelerating love in 1997. It was a summer of a trip to Virginia Beach, a car accident, with minimal supervision…it was a summer dreaming of what we’d do and where we’d live when we were married. In the dark morning hours of the Ohio living room, I remember sleepily saying the same thing at the same time to him, “with a white canopy-top bed.” This sent us reeling into euphoric giggles. What are the chances that we both wanted this idiosyncratic item in our future? It must have been meant to be.
Crash was the album we played ad nauseam the next year—yet neither of us was annoyed by it. We were so young, and yet pretending we had the liberties of adulthood. Lost on an Ohio road on a sweltering Friday night in July, we walked past a gas station, pondering the purchase of prophylactics…and, though young and impassioned, were mature enough to know that we couldn’t chance being young parents. Even though we later discovered my infertility. (dammit!).
Yet, it didn’t stop us from being reckless in flesh, in spirit, in mind. Love is reckless—consuming…much like an addiction. Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming novel (no pun intended):
“Love can make you feel like you’re climbing out of the most spaced out chapter in a William S. Burroughs novel. How did I get here? Did I put underwear on this morning? Do I even want to wear underwear anymore? Where is my wallet? Even the most focused people leave the door unlocked or forget to zip their pants. Infatuation can feel much the same as this, but real love has a consistency to it that lets you know even when you’re mad, it’ll pass. There’s no doubt that you will still feel the euphoria that surrounds your confusion as to where your undergarments slipped off to. Infatuation knows where your undergarments are, but may slip away as readily as your Fruit of the Looms.
But sometimes, when a strong emotion like love consumes you, you forget to nourish those idiosyncratic desires and dreams you once had.”
This is the fate of that first love. I forgot to nurture the very things that attracted him to me, and more importantly, the elements of my life that made me happy and free—and me.
We were goofy friends in 9th grade. I thought he was kind of immature and yet, there was something about his zany artwork and unusual ability to truly listen to me and my friend, Michelle, that caught my attention. In truth, I’d been distantly pursuing a crush I’d had since 7th grade. But he left that summer for Ohio, and had a dream about me that spun him out of the cyclone and into the firmament below—landing in my life in a new way. So, when I think of the follow-up line to the bold, “and I come into you…” followed by “in a boy’s dream,” it makes one wonder if “Crash” is merely a fantasy he had about something he willed into his life. I briefly wonder if Dave Matthews had the same result with is belle.
I recently discovered that my first love had been divorced, moved around, sold cars, and became a contractor (with big biceps, sigh.) What else do you do with an Art degree? But I wonder sometimes, with the frequency that you stub your toe—if he’s happy. If I truly broke his heart, changed his life forever…if he still has all my love letters—actually handwritten—as I do, his, beneath my record player in my office, in my Dr. Martens box—boots that he, for some reason, deplored.
Then, I think on the first time I tried Ben & Jerry’s. A senior skip-day with my best friend, Susan. I chose “Chunky Monkey” because it had a DMB reference. Her flavor was way better. Banana ice cream? Not really my thing. We blared “Proudest Monkey” as we sat in my ‘86 Jetta, the color of a banana-flavored dessert, feeling rebellious that we had declared ourselves done with school, though it was only two months before graduation. I was lost and depressed; thinking I’d made a huge mistake dumping my first love.
And jump to the present. I didn’t know, yesterday, that I’d choose this album in my “Top Ten of All-Time” until I heard “#41.” Spotify on a Smartphone filtered through a giant “Block Rocker” Bluetooth speaker in the living room. I found myself leaping up from the kitchen table and running the short distance to my living room to sway and dance with my eyes closed, the way I used to do to Counting Crows in my tiny bedroom. The bedroom where I lost my virginity—a magical and mundane moment in the life of Rachael.
“Do you love me?” I’d ask at the end of every cordless phone conversation in 10th grade. “Yes.” I had to ask him so that his rigid stepmom wouldn’t tease him. I knew he did. And I, him. Because those that you love, you never stop loving. They become the treasured tunes that stand at attention on your overflowing CD rack. They are the ones you take out and revisit, and smile.
When I was 14, I got the “Zero” tee to tell all the world that I loved the Smashing Pumpkins. It helped me befriend a fellow “Pumpkin Head” as we called ourselves. I remember when “Thirty-Three” came out. I remember thinking, “Gee, Billy, I wonder what 33 feels like. Will I understand this song even more then? Will it ring true with me moreso then than now?” The other night, I felt melancholy (reference intended) and I just couldn’t shake it. As I folded laundry feeling listless, I plugged in the Smashing Pumpkins 1991-2000 video collection (I did finally get the DVD version).
Suddenly, I was 14 again, taking the bus with my best friend to the used record store in Blacksburg and saving up for electric guitars. I watched Billy with long, curly hair and decided, though I like long hair on men, he was more attractive with a short cut, and even more handsome bald. That aside, I watched as D’arcy inspired me to play the bass, James made me discover an attraction to Asian men, and mourned as Jimmy was temporarily gone due to drug addiction. I laughed at them painting an ice cream truck, singing a song that sounds happy but was, in fact, written at a time where Billy was very suicidal.
I thought of an old friend who met Billy with me. I wondered how she was doing and why people who share such an immense bond lose touch. I sat, with unfolded socks in my lap as I watched Thirty-three in its entirety…and I cried. Here I am, the age I always said was a “Smashing Pumpkins age” reflecting on my youth. “Misspent youth, fakin’ up a rampage…” and I realized that life goes on. Thanks, Lennon-McCartney. Maybe it was something about the lingering winter in the Northeast this year. Maybe it was the fact that it snowed heavily on the first day of spring, after a terribly abusive winter. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m clinically depressed, or that that certain old friend’s birthday was on hand.
Either way, I watched the gorgeous, artfully-done video (all done with camera film in still frames) with a sort of undescribable melancholy. I know that those days are a product of my insanely good long-term memory. I know that I certainly wouldn’t want to be a lamenting Rachael, waiting for the true love of her life…wading through her own demon rivers of self-denial and emotional hardship…
It made me want to reach out and hug all those I’ve ever known. Except for that wicked girl I’ve forgiven, of course, who not only hurt me, but worse, hurt my friends, with her words. But enough of that.
There was a time in life where Pumpkin fans would just look at one another and say, “You like them too?” and it was as though you’d reunited with a friend you’d had from long ago. Perhaps that is what made me melancholy. Maybe I’ve been disconnected from a fan base that helps me thrive. I miss Julie’s laugh, this hearty “hah hah hah” when she’s delighted. It made me miss the way Amy would emit, “FUCK MY LIFE!” but with laughter when something silly happened. I remember running for the Two Town Trolley with Lindsey decades before she became a half-marathon runner (I’m proud of you, lady).
I remember cherishing the “Just Say Maybe” SP shirt with the red star on it that I stole from my brother. (Thanks, Jeremy.)
Just say maybe. Maybe it’s time to reunite with my musical mon amies. In case you’d like to pontificate on this beautiful sentiment from my past, here it is:
Blessings and rock on,