Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Runaway Train

I have a new favorite song. Sugarland's Already Gone. I’ve been playing it on repeat for a week. I have never listened to a song so obsessively before, but I just can’t get enough. Music makes us feel. It can make us aware of feelings we have that we didn’t know we had because we didn’t know how to express them. It can also sharpen our feelings and put them into perspective so that we understand ourselves better. It can teach us and inspire us.

I’m not going to aggrandize and say that this song does all or any of those things. But it does make me feel. And it makes me think. Nostalgia is, I think, what this song does for me.

My Mama mapped out the road that she knows
Which hands you shake and which hands you hold
In my hand-me-down Mercury, ready to roll
She knew that I had to go
And hangout, make lots of noise
Lay out late with a boy
Make the mistakes that she made 'cause she knew all along

I was already gone
I was already gone
I was already gone
Life is a runaway train you can't wait to jump on

This is the first verse, and I like it because it makes me remember being young. I mean, I am young still, of course, but I mean really young. I think about high school and college and how little I knew and how much I wanted to learn. I still make lots of noise and always will, but there’s something about the noise of your youth. And while the nighttime will always be magical, there’s something very special about the nights of our youth too, isn’t there?

My high school boyfriend - ooo was he hot. Everyone thought so. He had piercing green eyes, dark hair, a crooked grin that told you he was too cool for school (as evidenced when he later dropped out of college). His hair was long too. Something I’ve found truly repulsive in men since, but at 16, it was hot. I learned a lot from that boy…

Have you ever had an all-night date? I don’t even mean one of those hot and heavy nights where you stay up all night doing naked things. I mean a date. I want to see Nick and Norah’s Playlist so bad! And part of the reason is because they have one wild, all night date moving from one unexpected adventure to the next.

I had my first late night date my freshman year of college. It wasn’t technically all night, but it might as well have been. We ended up on the steps of The Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, and he kissed me for the first time. He had green eyes too, come to think of it. He was good looking, intelligent, kind and grew up in Kenya. A man of the world!

I heard once about a couple in Florida that started their first date watching the sunset on the Gulf Coast, then drove all night to see the sunrise on the Atlantic Coast. Ro-man-tic! If there ever was a perfect date, that’d be it. Because honestly, I’m looking for a partner in crime who’s up for anything and always says yes to crazy.

The verse also makes me think about when I moved to New York. Everyone in my family thought I was nuts, they were all mad at me, but especially my mom. She really didn't understand why I wasn't following her map. But when I moved, she was in the Uhaul with me, took care of everything and helped me move in and decorate. As great as she was, I know she cried on the way home. She loves me, she accepts me for who I am and even though she has a hard time understanding my decisions, she always supports them. And she knows I need to be independent so it's ok that I am.

They say the first time won't ever last
But that didn't stop me the first time he laughed
All my friends tried to warn me the day that we met
"Girl, don't you lose your heart yet"
But his dark eyes dared me with danger
And sparks fly like flame to a paper
Fire in his touch burning me up, but still I held on

I was already gone
I was already gone
I was already gone
Life is a runaway train you can't wait to jump on

This verse makes me think about the Firestarter. I dated him for a little over a year when I lived in New York right after college. He was a bad boy, and while I know it’s just a phase, phew is it one I’m glad I had. He taught me about passion. I knew all along he wasn’t the one, but I couldn’t make myself walk away. I was fixated. Spellbound.

Passion is a funny thing. It can trick you into thinking there’s something deeper – that’s how it helps you justify sticking around. The times in my life when I have felt incredible passion and lust, those feelings didn’t fade away like the warning we’ve all heard. It was always just as hot and firey as the first time. But eventually it's not as satisfying because there actually is more to a relationship than what happens inside the bedroom.

Just the other day, I told a friend of mine that I had figured something out. I said, “I know why people get married.” She laughed and said, “Oh good, why?” (I should add this friend is already married.) “When you find someone you have hot passion with, but also connect with in all the important ways too.” She laughed at my revelation because it was not news to her, but hey – I learn new things every day.

I can categorize all of my relationships as being dominated either by sexual passion or emotional connection. It just never occurred to me it was possible that you didn’t have to choose between them. Or that passion can last a lifetime.

Passion definitely has to be there. It puts the "crazy" in crazy love. There's the thrill of the first few months, when you're discovering each other's bodies, finding all the secret spots and learning each other. The first all-night naked romp. The first all-day naked romp. Then there's the thrill of the passion that comes from sharing for the first time that you're falling for each other - sweet nothings lead to the hottest of hot. And there is nothing like the first time you say "I love you." Nothing is sexier, and you cling tighter to him than ever before, hoping it will never end.

The last time I saw him, we packed up my things
And he smiled like the first time he told me his name
And we cried with each other
We split the blame for the parts that we couldn't change
Pictures, dishes and socks
It's our whole life down to one box
There he was waving goodbye on the front porch alone

But I was already gone
I was already gone
I was already gone
I was already gone
I was already gone

Thankfully, I have never been divorced. I pray I will never know such pain. But break-ups...ah, I know what those feel like. I think I've experienced those from every possible angle. I hate the last kiss. What's the saddest is when you know it's the last kiss, but no one says it. You know it's nearing the end, you might not be sure exactly when it's coming, but then you kiss that one kiss...and you know...that was the last.

The Firestarter taught me many lessons about life and love. He was my first adult relationship. It’s different when you’re an adult. The love is bigger and deeper, but it also hurts more. I think that’s because you share a life together. You share friends, you share space, you share days and nights, and you come to depend on each other in a million little ways.

It hurts the most when you do the final exchange. When you give him his stuff back, and all the evidence of the love is gone.

Now there’s only one toothbrush in the toothbrush holder. His shirts are no longer hanging in the closet. Even the things that used to irritate you, you’re sad to see gone like his socks he left on the floor or the cord to his laptop you always tripped on.

I kept my ex’s Old Spice Bodywash for awhile. It's not that we broke up and then haven't seen each other. I saw him just a couple weeks ago, but it’s not the kind of thing you give back. I kept it for over 6 months, hidden under my sink because it made me sad to look at it.

I ended things. It was my decision. And when I finally told him, I was already gone. I had been gone for awhile. It’s weird, isn’t it? How you can leave something but still be in it?

We can’t wait to grow up. I had the earliest curfew of all my friends, and I couldn’t wait to stay out late. That was my big rebellion my freshman year. Well, that and Fruit Rollups for breakfast. My high school boyfriend hurt me. And that guy I kissed in Birmingham turned out to have a host of issues I was too young to deal with. The Firestarter burned up my living room and broke my heart for the first time, it hurt in ways I didn't know it could. He wasn’t the last, and the hurt wasn't the worst.

All the fun and excitement of trying new things, testing boundaries, taking leaps can bring pain and heartache too. It is a wild runaway train, but the risks and the costs are worth the ride. Every bit of life – the good and the bad – that we can experience makes every pleasure sweeter, every smile wider and every minute brighter. That's what I've learned in the past month. That and all my hugs have been longer and tighter.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff. You have allowed me to think of some things I have not considered for a long time. Thanks for the nudge and GO VOLS!

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