I was driving through a neighborhood where I had never been before, exploring. It was mere minutes from a bustling suburb but it was all horse stables and acreage and ancient farm houses. It had a more organic feel than the brand new, assembly line stamped houses crammed onto the flat streets that I had just driven away from. Happy horses and ranch dogs followed behind the hard working people that take care of them.
I rounded a bend in the road and came upon a sign for a city park. I saw one picnic table and an acre of dead grass and pebbles as I drove by, and laughed out loud. I drove another half-mile before my curiosity overcame me, and I wondered if there was more to this so-called park. I turned the car around, parked on the street in front of the picnic table, put my headphones in my iPod and got out.
Almost hidden between some dead trees on the border of the pebble field was the beginning of a paved path. I followed its curves through the trees to find that it became a walking trail that wound around a small lake. It was an oasis in a rural desert. People were on the trail walking their dogs and their children, geese lounged on the surface of the water, a cool breeze caused the clear blue sky and sunlight to twinkle on the lake’s surface.
This was a moment in time that was made just for me. I set off to walk the path, and soon time melted into oblivion. Apropos of nothing, you came to mind.
We used to talk about this happening. I was joking, you weren’t. You said that whenever you thought about me, I would feel it. Your birth date was also a number that appears on a digital clock every 12 hours, so you also told me that whenever I looked at a clock at that time, I’d think of you. At the time it was supposed to be sweet, but it soon turned into a curse. Because guess what time it always is when I look at a digital clock.
So maybe you really were thinking about me while I walked by the lake. Maybe you were high, again, and had the ability to communicate with me telepathically. I don’t know. My mind was closed to a lot of things before I met you. I stood up a little straighter when you mentally summoned me. I thought of the girl you knew who hated herself and always walked with her shoulders slumped and tried to hide everything feminine about her. I’m not that girl anymore (no thanks to you). I straightened with pride and swung my hips a little when I walked and it made me smile because I did it for me and not you or anyone else.
If we really were connected in that moment, then you were interested in the music I was listening to. Suddenly I heard every song on the playlist through our shared ears, like the hours we spent listening to each other’s playlists, one earbud apiece. I haven’t forgotten how we would argue about the meanings of songs, the power of us both liking the same song at the same time, and the way you either fell in love with or judged me based on certain songs. How I would beam with pride or hide my hurt feelings according to your words.
I smiled again, so much that laughter bubbled over, because I realized that I wouldn’t give a shit about what you thought anymore. I sung along to the forgettable machine manufactured pop song as I walked, and I loved it, my steps bouncing with the beat of the song. You would have hated this song. It made me so happy.
Then the songs on the playlist, shuffled and playing in random order, began to be about you.
Neon Trees, Songs I Can’t Listen To – it’s about a guy who has a list of songs that remind him of his ex. I never liked the Plain White T’s, but now that dumb song, you know the one, makes me so angry that I can’t listen to it, and it’s all because of you.
Garbage, Bleed Like Me – you were always trying to top everyone else’s stories of suffering. I smiled because I now know that you’re not special. We all suffer. I have gotten over myself, and I hope that by now you have too.
Sneaker Pimps, Spin Spin Sugar – this song is fantastic. I am a badass, and you knew it. You would rather have died than admit to it, though. Fuck you.
Alt-J, Dissolve Me – this song feels like everything good about what we had together. Yes, there was good, I wouldn’t have stayed around if there wasn’t. But but the song is pretty short.
Outlines, Dragonette and Mike Mago – you’ve probably never heard of Dragonette, and you have no idea how much they mean to me. You don’t need to know. I once gave you a significant amount of influence in my life. But my life is mine now, and you have no power over it. While the song played I imagined us running into each other and talking. At the end of our conversation you ask if you could call me sometime, and I say, “Nah. See you ’round,” and walk away from you.
The next song came on my iPod and you were gone. I soaked up the sun while I walked, immersed in my music, hips swinging with each step.