She was the quiet one, the weeping willow who soft-stepped into a room, causing all heads to turn. I stood beside her, soothed by her geisha-like stance. I loved her, ignoring her follies, and pretending that she understood my tales. I believed we both heard the same song, and that song would be our guide.
Now, the chords of our youth seems so far away. I hear them; in mismatched notes and disjointed musical styles. Images come and go of memories that might be real or make believe. I don’t know if they are actually mine or just some imagined truth. When I close my eyes, all I can see is a black sky with vibrant specks of tiny stars that pulsate against my eye-lids like cracked riffs from a dissonant guitar.
I reach out, looking for her within the constellation of the sound track of our youth. Nothing is really what it appears through the smoke and fog of memories. I see only hallucinations, fanciful anecdotes of my past that I call my soul. Still, I want to touch them, I want to feel them again. I want to hold the past in my hand and mold it into what I believe it should be for me. I want to scream out my own song, resurrect it, and begin again through attenuated tones of purposeful melodies kept well hidden under the folds of my bed covers.
She seeks me out through the buzz of the internet- the dull hum drums of the monotone electrical currents which connects us after two decades. With the careful tapping of her finger tips she finds me. I’m three thousand miles away with a new name, and a new song, and the riffs inside my head are no longer black specks, but colorful chords of events that I haven’t shared with her. My present is a whimsical purpose, and not the hammering out of cracked dreams, and misunderstood intentions. I no longer wear black, or dye my hair red. I let go of my youthful angst, put it in a bag, stored away with all the letters and notes, and false hopes that we once called our friendship.
Yet, she resurrects those bittersweet chords, the ones that house the sweet regrets, and washes them away with a song of her own. It is a shared song of words unsaid, and silent years of waiting for the right time to seek absolution. I try to turn down the static of unanswered questions that fill my head, in order to once again hear that song that we once shared, to listen without judgment, and forgive without remorse.
I was the loud one, the boisterous wind that provoked her limbs to sway and move to the rhythm that I thought our friendship should take. I stood beside her regardless of what others said: whispering to her that we were invisible to the talk, we had our own song inside our heads.
I call her after that first exchange of emails. My heart pounding like an African drum, I dial her phone number, and hear her sing-song voice after two decades of silence. “I thought you hated me,” she asks after I rattle on about my current life, and how I live on a side of a mountain, and rescue unwanted dogs, and still ride horses. “Never,” I say choking back the tears; “you were my first best friend, the first to break my heart.”
I wait for her response; the musical thread in my head hums away, as I twist a strain of my now grey hair in my finger-tips. I no longer smoke, but right now, I long for the nicotine trance, to take me back. “You always were into rescuing,” she says. “You always had a dog and a cat.” She laughs changing the subject, telling me about her son, telling me about how now she is committed to being a mother. How she never thought she would be a mother since she abused her body so hard. I listen, as if I am looking through a camera lens, getting snap shots of her life.
We moved together, taking from one another’s strengths, using each other to quell the youthful turmoil in our heads. I pretended that all was right within the core of our friendship, regardless of hearing the whispers of falsehoods, and watching her actions of deceit.
I try to see and hear those memories clearly, but it is as if I suffer from tunnel vision. The more I think about them, the more they become distorted and twisted, taking a life of their own. But, again when I close my eyes, I see no color, only black and white snapshots of a past that does not really belong to my current events. She wanted to be a fashion designer; I wanted to be a poet. We spoke of our dreams in whispered hushes over the bleak tunes of songs of our youth, like Black Planet by Sisters of Mercy or Bela Lugosi’s Dead by Bauhaus. We started hanging out at Pete’s, a dive coffee shop that all of Vince’s “cool” friends hung out at on Lincoln Ave., just off of Clark St. This was before Starbucks and quaint little coffee-shops that now can be found on every city street corner. We drank our cold coffee from standard porcelain white restaurant cups that came with saucers, which Vince and his friends liked to use as ashtrays. I became the tag- along to her romance with Vince and his friends. I walked ten feet behind her, and the black clad gang that had become her new friends.
These snap shots in my head fade in and out, as if I can hear my brain thinking, trying to make sense of the past, trying to rearrange the maze of memories to make some sort of sense out of them. The hum in my head is familiar, like the droning of my computer when it is on. I hear it. I am aware of it, but I have learned to ignore it.
Nostalgia lingers in a mutual verse of shared stories. How we use to sit out on the piers at North Beach and get stoned. How we use to hang out at Wax- Trax’s smoking our cloves cigarettes trying to impress all the Goth boys who wanted to be like Robert Smith from The Cure. I smell those cloves cigarette now as I listen to Bauhaus twenty years later. I feel that surge of angst that permeated the dance floor at Medusa’s as we made fun of all the North-shore posers that came into the city to be like us, or so we thought.
What does it mean after all these years of silence? What does it mean to seek out and find that speck of hope? What do we really have to share with each other after all these years of separate memories, and events that neither one of us was there to record for the other? This separateness is what now defines us, and I believe looking back that it was always there. There always was this feeling of distance. As if she was only a fragment of my imagination. As if she were a ghost of my past that I try to feel, but I can’t, because the more I try, the more my finger tips only slide through her apparition.