Unrequited, For a Love That Never Was

Music is a truly amazing thing. There’s a power in sound that I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend. It’s not just how it makes us feel, but how it makes us feel about things that never existed.

One of my favorite songs is “Under You” by Better Than Ezra.

This songs transports me. Not to a moment in time, but to a collection of moments that never existed.

I’m back in college. I’m dating a girl that never existed. We’re laying on my tiny twin dorm bed, playing with dust motes in the late afternoon sun of a warm Spring day. It’s a happy memory of a failed relationship. A relationship that never existed. Our fingers dance along the near-invisible floating clumps of dust until they intertwine. Everything else fades away.

It’s vivid. It never happened. Nothing remotely close to it has ever happened in my life. I’m not substituting some surrogate into a memory of an ex-girlfriend. This is an experience that exists entirely in my subconscious, yet is as real – if not moreso – than any actual memory I have of that time.

I’m old enough and wise enough to understand it, and what it represents. I miss my youth. I miss the lack of responsibilities and the feeling that the world was ahead of me like some prize that I was bound to win. I know it’s a song I wouldn’t have identified with at the time, but in retrospect provides the soundtrack for a moment that never existed, but thematically encapsulates so many “wasted” seconds rolled into one.

There exists in me a feeling that I died the moment that I graduated college. It sounds ridiculous. It IS ridiculous. I get that.Understand though, that I was dumped the night before my graduation, that I’d be leaving the place I’d lived for four years, and that I’d be moving away from the family I’d made over that time. It’s a similar experience to what I imagine most graduates feel, but there were circumstances that made it feel exacerbated it for me.

The 2am game of wiffleball – a desperate attempt to grasp the fleeting moments of youth – didn’t help.

I was a different person than the naive avatar I picture when I peer into the past. Frankly, I hate the person I was at the time I picture, which is what makes the fabricated memory so appealing. In my memory, I was everything wholesome, holding on to something good that would be unfairly taken from me.

Reality is/was different. There’s a reason that I started identifying with the moniker of “anti-hero” shortly after college. I wasn’t a bad person – per se – but I wasn’t a good one either.

It’s impossible to look at the past objectively. The paths of our lives are fluid. There’s moments in the first few days of my time in college that – if I changed them for temporary gain – would’ve altered not just who I am as a person, but the people who made me a better human over those four subsequent years. I had three best friends in college. I could’ve never met them if I’d properly understood a casual innuendo literal minutes before I happened to meet them. Had I not been a naive child, I’d have never followed through on that chance encounter.

Life is interesting, but the razor’s edge that defines each path is endlessly fascinating.