Thank you all so kindly for the words of encouragement and support this week. Glad to know that I was actually beating up on my kid less than I was beating up on myself. Next week’s self-flagellation topic: The Preschool Process. Stay tuned for all the, um, fun.
Every night I lay in bed hugging my pillow, which was a good enough substitution for the time being. Every night I grasped in the dark for the third button to the left which set the tape deck in forward motion. Every night I fell asleep to the strains of Open Arms by Journey, my secret, passionate forbidden musical love. Don’t tell my safety-pins-in-their-ears friends. Don’t tell my Anarchy-A-on-their-hightop-toes friends.
(The love for Journey dies hard; find proof here that Don’t Stop Believing was my ringtone a good year before the Sopranos – and Hilary Clinton – coopted that thing of beauty for their own purposes.)
To me Open Arms was The song. You know, for The time.
Or, more specifically, The First Time. For It.
I was determined to cross that First Time thing off my list before I turned seventeen. Just you know, to get it out of the way. Apparently the suspense was kiiiiilling me in that dramatic, sixteen year-old way.
Cut to the Junior Prom. Assymetrical 1985 hair. Braces that forced a tight-lipped smile for the Nikon. Red lipstick. Decent enough date.
He brought the $3 Andre Champagne, I brought the Sponge.
In my room, later that night, which wasn’t particularly special or romantic or otherwise memorable, I pressed that third button on the tape deck as I’d practiced a million times. Open Arms came on. We didn’t quite know what we were doing. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t even interesting, for either of us. In fact, I’d insist to girlfriends in the days to come that It didn’t count at all. That I get a do-over. That you can, in fact, have two First Times.
The song ended. The night was over. He may or may not have called me the next day.
But ohmigod, the next night, when I went to press play on that tape deck again, like, ohmigodohmigodohmigod…the tape was broken.
It had broken. It didn’t work. After hundreds of nights of playing that song and imagining what It would be like, it would no longer play.
It was like, totally a metaphor. Or a sign. Or like, something. Ohmigod.
Even though It didn’t count.
It’s not a meme. It’s um…a writing prompt. If you want to do it too, feel free. If you want to read other takes from writers with some killer chops, go here: