“Love” by The Sundays
This is not a memory about a lover at all. Instead, it is one of those myriad associations stored up in memory, a link that may seem weak and yet, in fact, makes me feel like there is an ever-stronger web of joy netting me into this life.
When I think of this song, I think of J.E. Johnson’s friend Tobias Becker. There are layers of removal from intimacy there: one of my college best friend’s high school best friends. I probably only ever hung out with Toby under ten times. I know he loved girls wearing sundresses and once made the most beautiful teapot in ceramics class–one with the face of Hermes on it. I know that now, he is happy, with many babies. What was always clear was that he was a gentle soul, and he loved this song, and I remember him singing his favorite line from it, unabashedly:
Well, if yoooooou
don’t have a clue about life
then I’m happy, happy, happy to say
neither have I
although I’m not going to shrug my shoulders and suck my thumb
Sometimes, people I adore move in and out of my life with a speed that should make me nauseated. As a teacher, I’m only just now getting used to the fact that students who bond with me during their four years (or even just in their first year) will probably disappear into the ether after graduation, our closeness like a B-12 booster for their growth.
Of course, the opposite is true, too: I maintain many, many deep connections with many, many people.
But part of Valentine’s Day for me is always about the time-lapse film of connections running through my head. It could feel like a string of losses. Or–and this is what I like more–it could feel like the end of Cinema Paradiso: a reel of all the good parts, spliced together, separate from their narratives but beautiful all alone.