A million and a half years ago, or 1994-96, during my first foray into college, I was too busy interviewing rock stars, working at a radio station, working at the college newspaper, AND trying to get my college’s radio station booted up, to study. (I was busy.)
During all of this, I interviewed a band, who have since disbanded, at a local to GR dive club. There is nothing unusual in this activity; I’ve interviewed bands before. What was unusual was a week or two before interviewing said band, I finished reading a book of prose by a famous author lent to me by a friend. The title of one of the pieces happened to be the band’s name. Surely this is no coincidence.
During the interview with the singer, I bring up, “Hey, are named after so-and-so’s prose piece, blah blah blah?” The lead singer said, “Yes! No one ever gets that.” In that very tenth of a second, the world was aligned just so and you and your other half have finally found each other.
I watched their show that night, during which their manager came up and said the lead singer wanted to know if I wanted to go on with the band to their next gig in Detroit. I demurred and said no, I had school to worry about (you know, the classes I wasn’t attending). Nothing ever happened between the lead singer and I. I don’t think he ever got my last name.
For awhile after that, I wondered what would have happened if I had gone. (I’m a whiz at playing the what-if game.) Memories fade faster when you’re 24 as you’re so anxious to go out and eat the world as you’re sure more memories will be forthcoming. (They usually are.) You stop playing the what-if game and take bites of things as they continue to occur. Now your memories are overflowing and some of those, the ones you swore you’ll never forget, you do end up forgetting.
Every five or so years (maybe more, possibly less), something reminds me of the band (last night they had a song in the movie I was watching), memory sparks up and it all comes back. Sitting in the back of their van, notepad on my knee, the lead singers face not far from mine. That briefest hint of tension.
After last night’s movie watching, I dreamt the friend who leant me the book all those years ago sent me an urgent email that I just HAD TO GO FIND THE LEAD SINGER OF THAT BAND. It was important. I had to do this now.
In my dream I tracked the lead singer down. I emailed him and a correspondence sprung up and of course, as dreams are wont to do, the ending is ambiguous.
I got up this morning, put on my workout clothes, and before doing anything (here I am, eating a cold syrup soaked pancake and wiping my fingers on a napkin so I do not get syrup all over my keyboard) tracked down the lead singer from all those years ago. I had forgotten his name, so I back tracked to the band’s Wikipedia page, and went forward. Now I spend ten minutes on searching and reading about him. I know once I am done, he will then fade, again and again, back into memories of yon past.
He’s now a famous visual artist and composer, based in LA. The last time I tracked him down, there was scant information about him other than a few random interviews and in one he talks about finishing his BA in English through correspondence courses when the band was on the road.
Here is a webpage! Contact info! A Tumblr! I breeze through his work. The words “pretentious” and “douchebag” come to mind. He’s balding now. His body has gone soft. I cannot say time has not been kind to him, the recognition he looked for in the band was now happening in other areas, so I am happy for him. Time has not unnecessarily been unkind to me, but just as he had physically changed, so have I.
I like to remember that brief tenth of a second when we fell in love in the back of that van. I was wearing my lime green cardigan, a t-shirt of some kind, jeans, and a pair of Chucks. My hair a hot curled mess, a bobby pin pushed into the left side to keep the hair out of my eyes. (Yes, my sense of style has not changed in 20 years.) He was long limbed, squared jawed, t-shirt and jeans wearing, a van dyke sprouted below his lower lip as was the rage during the mid-90s.
We were just kids then. God, we were so young. (If I ever track down my photographer friend from that era, I believe he got a picture of me interviewing the lead singer, but I have forgotten the photographer’s last name.)
I found the promo picture of the band, the standard 8×11 images with the band’s name, and AR info at the label sends out with additional materials. I could recall some of his details by memory, the others I cheated. However, what made me laugh is the words “historical image” watermarked across the image.
Nothing was ever implied or stated during that time at the back of the van. I probably didn’t even fall in love. It is what I felt then, it was I remember now. He probably doesn’t remember me.
What I like about these stories, other than they make for great retelling, is the reminder, no matter how brief, there is someone like you in the world. Similar connections have been made over the years, some romantic others platonic. Some last a mere moment and others last years. What strikes me the most about all of these connections is that brief time we are together, there is that sense of hope.
I live for hope and for belief in those things. It is what keeps me going.
There is not a consideration of contacting him as I am sure he will have no recollection of someone he spent a few hours with 20 years ago, let alone the story I am retelling here now. I add the band’s music to my work out lists. I close the browser tabs and wish him luck.
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace