When you’re gone, here’s a song
I’ll be thinking about you
I’ve never experienced anything more ethereal than when our eyes met before homeroom. It couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds, but it hung in the air like an eternal sunrise. Nothing I’ve experienced since has matched this feeling- for only a moment, I stood before the face of God. Drug people lament the way it used to be, before things were cut with laxatives. The first semester at college, and you’re popping pills at a party- throbbing waves of intensity.
And you think you’ll take it with you, like you finally won the ring-toss at a carnival. This is your big pink elephant. You think it’s going to feel that way every time, but every time you go back, there are more pieces missing. The fifth time you’ve gone through the haunted house and the foam skeleton doesn’t have the same resonance. You become the old pothead, rolling your eyes at kids and their stoner stories.
Our first movie date and I get her a yellow, plastic ring out of the quarter machine. Someday, Jessica, someday. It’s not that it wasn’t meant to be ironic, but that its irony was so genuine that it’d never work today. The world has moved beyond sincerity.
In another life we’d be married now- two kids, in a house with a two-car garage. Yard work on the weekends while she shuffles the kids between soccer practice and kung-foo classes. At night we laugh over Chardonnay, remembering how Sister Eileen would catch us making-out in the hallway and then try to embarrass me about it during math class. You don’t realize how much that means until you can never have it again.
Pressing her against the wall when no one’s looking, biting her neck and grabbing a breast. We never lost it, did we?
No one expected me to break up with her. She was gorgeous, but we drifted apart. The sun had finally set. Seeing her would only feel empty. And she got really annoying.
It was an integrity move. I didn’t have another girl lined up- I wouldn’t have even known how to do that. I didn’t like her anymore, and isn’t that why people break-up?
Paint the house to burn it down. Allow the perfect to get in the way of the good. I’m the captain who’s playing by the rules if shit happens in the middle of the Atlantic. A modern, suburban Samurai with an unbreakable will to do what’s right, even to my own detriment.
In my mind, I’m Lou Reed. Life is performance art, and you never settle for less than authentic. When Reed walked away from The Velvet Underground, having produced some of the best music of the decade that no one gave a shit about, he took a job picking up garbage on the beach. “Lou fucking Reed, collecting trash,” is what David Bowie must have thought when he offered to produce a solo-record, the incredible “Transformer” (1972), which provided his only mainstream hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.”
With unprecedented career momentum, Lou cashed-in with “Sally Can’t Dance” (1974)- a terrible record that hit commercially. This rather common dichotomy, an awful record that awful people with awful taste seem to like- something that wouldn’t have registered with a band like KISS- tortured Reed.
Feeling compromised, thinking his career couldn’t be salvaged, he did what anyone with autism would do- he burned it all down. Releasing an album of pure noise, Reed attempted career suicide.
“Metal Machine Music” (1975) is nothing but guitar feedback- there is no melody, there is nothing enjoyable. Anyone who’s said they’ve listened to the whole thing is either lying or retarded. Not only did putting out a self-destructive record take balls, but Lou even had the balls to make it a double album. If you’re going down with the ship, you may as well sink the Titanic.
Lou didn’t like his career anymore, so he broke up with it. It was an integrity move.
Even if she were gorgeous. Even if we were hitting our sexual stride- where Friday nights were pizza and root beer, and fucking her on the floor of her living room. Even if she loved me with a teenage intensity they all say is bullshit, “you don’t know what love is”- but like everything they’ve ever said, the polar opposite is true. The only real love is teenage love, and even if she were the only girl who would ever love me.
She got really annoying. So I called her one night and broke up with her.
I ran into her at a club after our first year of college- she was in black fishnets. There was a dumb luck to her growing up in the salad days of Hot Topic. A slender frame where the biggest things on her were either her eyes or her tits, Jessica was built to be goth.
Back on the floor of her living room- her parents were on vacation. We never lost it, did we?
She tells me she loves me with a kind of hopeful insecurity. I say nothing. She starts to cry. I’m too drunk to leave but it’s time to go. Hands around the wheel; ten and two. Keep your eyes open and try to look straight. A half-hour home. Choke the vomit down, this train’s not stopping.
The few times we’ve spoken since would end with her cursing at me. She liked calling me a “bastard,” language I’m certain copied from her mother- she never liked me. I’d resist the urge to point out the inaccuracies of her accusation and assume she was pointing to something more colloquial. I’d sit and take it because I thought I deserved it.
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