Warning: naughty language ahead!
Breakups are a bitch.
If they were people, they’d be criminals. More specifically—thieves.
Think about it. Think about all the things they rob you of: Friday night dates, good sex (…maybe), thousands of tears and, sometimes, your sanity.
But on the list of things that get taken when coupledom ends, the most upsetting for me is “the song.”
You know the one.
As soon as you hear the opening chords, your heart cracks and swells at the same time. And suddenly, you’re right back in that moment—the road trip, the first kiss, that night at the bar. It’s the song that becomes instantly synonymous with a person, a feeling. It’s the perfection of a relationship encapsulated in roughly four harmonious minutes.
I’ve lost a few songs to breakups, some more tragic than others.
But this last loss was almost too much to bear.
You see, I love music the way other people love their children or their pets. Words often don’t do it justice. When I’m listening to a great song for the first time, I feel like it chose me. Hearing a powerful melody creates warmth and joy in my core. The right song at the right time can be a spiritual experience.
So when that song becomes entwined with someone I love, the feelings skyrocket. And when that person leaves, both the song and I are forever changed.
I’ve loved this particular song since my days of Care Bear comforters and light-up L.A. Gear sneakers. Hearing it takes me back to dancing wildly in my living room, un-brushed hair on my head and My Little Pony in my hand. Over the years I’ve bounced around to it at clubs at 2 a.m. and scream-sang it in my shower.
I thought it was safe.
But about a year ago, I went on what can only be described as The Best First Date (maybe ever). We’d known each other since we were young and he’d written to me in the hopes of reconnecting. I was hesitant at first, nervous that after so many years apart things would be awkward. That night, four hours flew by. I can’t remember one moment where we weren’t talking or laughing. He rarely took his eyes off me and it felt intoxicating.
I remember thinking: maybe this is what it feels like when you find your person.
After dinner, he walked me to my car where we exchanged numbers and a hug that lasted a few seconds longer than one between friends should. Taking my keys out, I realized I hadn’t stopped smiling in hours. My face kind of hurt, but in the crazy wonderful way that happens when someone shares their light with you. And as I turned the key in the ignition, that song blasted out of my speakers.
Suddenly, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” became “the song”—the one that would always remind me of this moment, of how it felt to fall for a person the second you are in their presence.
A few months into dating we were drunk at a bar together and the song came on. I screamed into his ear: “This is the song that was playing in my car after our first date!” He laughed and kissed me. Then we sang along together.
After we broke up, that song was like my kryptonite. Anytime I heard it, the tears started and my fingers automatically searched for the radio dial. I was sad, of course, but I was also fuckin’ angry because I had loved that song long before boys and dating and heartbreak. Because it used to make me feel wild and happy. And now it didn’t even feel like mine anymore. The breakup had stolen it.
The other day I was driving to work, deep into a spirited one-woman concert with my favorite radio station. Then the synthesizers started. The beat kicked in. And Whitney did her celebratory “Wooo!”
I wanted to sing along so bad. I wanted to be that five year old dancing around my living room. I wanted to be that giddy 31 year old excited about the possibility of love.
So I kept my hands on the wheel and I sang.
And I cried. And I smiled.
I suffered, beautifully.
And just like that, I took my damn song back.
Author: Nicole Cameron
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Nikos Koutoulas/Flickr