Updated: Aug 17, 2019
Like the drag of harmonica and trilling vocals in “The River” crashing pleasant dreams into ruthless realities, I wish to tow you along on a hypothetical journey through a listening recommendation. You may need your boots for this hike, as I request you tread with me in a bewildered mist of twilight on an unkempt, overlooked trail. And as wisteria vines tighten, twist, and stretch into streetlamp spectators at the end of our trek, we cross the margins of time, space, and reality which permit us to peer in on an imagined version of myself.
On the other side of the tracks, where busted chunks of asphalt declined to dust and gravel—my destiny bound to a boy a few stones and fields down the road. We were rapid friends, and as our bodies matured into man and woman, we fell in love.
Comprised of parts sturdy and fragile in the narrow halls of similar upbringings—we understood the weight, cruelty, errors, and burdens of the world. Raised on arguments cast by derelict souls, we were hard-up for role models representing healthy, functional love. Still, in our feral and foolish glory days, we loved each other madly, passionately—and obsessively. We stood starving and on fire with blazing want.
We struggled, we loved. We loved, we struggled. In both, we were completely consumed. And as inevitable as the flesh burns collected from hastily crashing into casual cigarettes, we concluded our rowdy possessive affair with a ceremonial commitment. Never fully trusting each other, we loved the only way we knew how. And years later, in the yard of a modest rental at the end of Thunder Rd., you’d see our ’81 Stanza corroding beside a withering willow tree. We both worked full time. And on my way to work, I would bring him lunch. He was always forgetting his lunch. We’d then reconvene at home aching to our bones for the compassion of human touch.
Our ambitions dwindled in the gravity of each passing day, the contracting walls choked our space, and depraved words of resentment filled our mouths and passed our lips as shouts—and to these words we’d cling for ammunition. The shouts a result of anger—and all anger from hurt. Still, we’d carry on with a flicker of hope, especially when we were dancing in the dark, knowing that flicker would guide us back to each other. In the shackles of fidelity and commitment we fought for freedom, but always succumbed to safety. We knew if we waited in the agonizing and fixed cold we would find our way back to each other in the night, because the night has always and only ever belonged to us.
In a life where passion led to precariousness, no one could possibly hurt us deeper than we hurt each other. But when it’s good, it’s good! Comparable to the excitement, zeal, and mystery in a Springsteen-esque Tunnel of Love, our love was intense, dense, inexplicable, and complicated. We made mistakes, we bickered, and sometimes we didn’t like each other very much—but we couldn’t have possibly loved each other more.
In our memories, it’s always been good.
Did we ever really see each other? Or did we pretend to be the person the other wanted us to be? Who were we before we lost ourselves? Who are we now? And does any of this really matter in love?
Thrust back onto the overlooked trail and just beyond it into a room lined with open doors, we should remind ourselves in every empty frame lives possibility. And as Bruce Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise” rifts and fills this room I pose, could that have been me had I taken a different path? You will never know, because I wear a brilliant disguise, and I wear it well. Or do I?