we were once so young
or, exactly like overripe bananas
Last night my wife reminded me that Dashboard Confessional was a thing, which carved a canal in time that flooded over me.
Thus and so, this morning, my memories forming a marshland bogging before me while I pace my house, infant bouncing in my arms, work happily yet disastrously ignored, I think about the time we had when we were young and full of dumb love.
I miss my friend Megan. I came to know her very well because of a friend who I loved that I may never tell you all about because I don’t know how to write his name without revealing parts of myself that are maybe best kept to myself. But she was in love with him and he with her, but he was no good for her. No good for anyone, including himself, but, again, let’s not go there.
I used to talk with Megan often while she attempted to understand him by, I think, understanding me.
Early in my first year at university—possibly within the first month—we were told that Dashboard Confessional would be coming to do a concert on campus. Now, I’m the right age to have been a teenager crying to Screaming Infidelities because it felt like it was about me—it was not—or all the people I knew and loved—not them either—but it had been, seemingly, a few years since I cared much for their music.
I had matured, buddy. I was living in Tom Waits’ basement vibing with Frank Zappa while Captain Beefheart splintered my spine and Fiona Apple carried me to grand new heights while Chan Marshall brought me back down to earth and made me whole.
And so I didn’t really have any plans to go to the concert but then the day grew nearer and some fragment of a memory of being fifteen and drunk and ready to die if only you’d asked me to, I decided to go. I don’t remember why I asked Megan if she wanted to go.
Probably because we were already talking on AIM (am I old now?).
A quick recreation:
Do you like dashboard confessional
They’re coming to my university this week. want to go?
Would that life could be so simple once more.
By then, both of us had lost touch with the friend who started our friendship, though he occasionally called us at 4am. And so for the first time in our somewhat inconsistent friendship, we didn’t talk about him because we didn’t really have anything to say about him, except to idly wonder if he was doing okay (spoiler: he was not).
The concert was mildly hilarious because the volume kept getting turned up more and more with every song, until the music was so loud I could barely hear it.
But even though I was too cool for Dashboard by this point, the immensity of that wall of sound and the heartbreakingly earnestness of the performance made my dumb heart feel things that I often tried to keep buried at that point in my life.
Though university was a way for me to start again and leave the past behind, I found the love I held for certain people continually broke me to pieces because of the way you said my name at 4am in your dad’s pick-up truck while I just nodded, tried to not cry there in the dark, afraid to look at you, afraid to let you hear the hurt in my voice because the love that shaped me so powerfully had nowhere to go and so it boiled in my chest, kept me dreaming of my own death.
Thus and so, I fell in love a bit with Megan that night. I had a compulsive way of throwing my heart into the hands of others and loving them so deeply, even if only for a moment, an hour, a year. We didn’t kiss or even really dance in the way that almost lovers sometimes dance, but a part of Megan got lodged in my chest that night and I still find the sliver poking through my skin at strange times, like the flashbacks of acid trips from decades ago that coat my brain for dizzying moments.
I have a fear of certain memories. To share a memory with another is to give it away. Such a memory can never be the same ever after, because now it’s their memory too. And someday it may be the memory of many others as it twists and distorts and becomes other to myself.
Certain memories exist only in me and I cannot part with them.
I cherish this night with Megan, which is why I’ll say no more of it.
I hold my breath and I’m back there, Dashboard so heavily distorted by terrible acoustics that the song was as much a projection of my memories as it was a performance by a band, a warm yellow glow of love and life and beauty washing over me.
Strangely, that was one of the last times I saw Megan. I texted with her briefly a few years ago because we discovered we lived a few blocks from one another. But Covid and a city on fire kept us from reuniting and now time, bastard that it is, continues ever onward even though no one even asked it to.
I remember certain moments in life with such burning clarity that I gasp as if you dunked my head in a pool to wake me up. Perhaps because I remember so little of my own life. And so when I walk the tapestry of my life full of gaping holes and threadbare stretches, the parts that remain vivid and whole shock me as I wonder if my hands truly wove this.
They didn’t. I didn’t.
All of us together did. And I hope those of you caught like shards of glass in the ruin of my memory all remember me as I remember you.