I remember it well, the night was hot, and you were there. Oh, there were others around too. But they didn’t matter. All that mattered that night was how you peeked around the hood of that old dragster that you raced at the speedway on Sunday afternoons. The glances that you imparted as I pretended not to notice. Looking back now, those looks were a gift.
That was the night that I fell in love forever with Jackson Browne. ‘Running On Empty’ came on the radio, and you paused in reverence–whether to the man or the lyrics, I’ll never know. I do know that still, even after all the years that have passed, I still think of you and that night whenever I hear the song.
Maybe that it why I am writing this. I heard the song on the radio this afternoon. The flashbacks began, as they always do. They begin with the memory of that night, the night that we met, and they continue through the summer, with memories of too many beers, long drives going nowhere, hot Sunday afternoons in the ‘pit’ at the track. Redneck times. Young times. Good times.
It’s funny to me how I can still hold those memories so close. You see, you were the most romantic love I ever had. The memories I have of sitting in my dorm room waiting for the ring from Ma Bell, staring at the clock, watching the seconds tick by at a merciless slow pace, are some of the most precious memories I’ll ever have. The memories of how my thoughts of you then were all encompassing and shielding from the rest of the world are part of the glue that now holds me together. I guess I’m lucky.
You’re married now. You married the one you left when you met me. The one who you said no longer meant anything to you. The one who you started secretly seeing when I wasn’t there. I hope you found in her what you didn’t find in me. Guess it’s pretty obvious that you did, huh?
I hurt for a long, long time. Years. You were my greatest love and my greatest heartache. I guess we can’t have the second without the first. Does one negate the other? I think it does, in time. I consider my brief time with you as something to be cherished, because in my darkest hours I can relive those moments. It was a time of giving and receiving without the fear of pain. No, you taught me pain. It was a time of reality in its purest form–there was no albatross around my neck then. You became my albatross..
I do hope you’re happy. And I wonder if you ever think of me? Another answer I’ll never know. I wish, just one night in my dreams, I could once again hear you say, "I love you."