Long before I’d really experienced any sort of real loss, likely before I’d experienced any losses at all (except for perhaps the loss of a My Little Pony or three), I remember reading or hearing that death causes you to lose people in small ways for a long time rather than BOOM! all at once. I don’t have any idea why this stuck in my memory banks for any reason at all, but it has, and the older I get, the more I realize it’s true.
I was driving back from voting today, marveling at how this Indian Summer we’re having makes the warm breeze feel stolen and therefore better, I was noting how the trees were finally the shocking orange and red of fall, and suddenly as I was flipping through the radio stations, it came on.
‘It’ being the crappy 70’s song “Low Rider.”
Between the beautiful fall weather, which always makes me feel nostalgic, the fact that I saw in person my signature from 1998, the year I turned 18 and voted proudly for the first time, and the sudden funky rifts of “Low Rider,” I inhaled sharply and had to remind myself that the year was 2008, not 1998.
And it was remembering how I stole my friend Steph’s copy of the soundtrack of Dazed and Confused and never returned it. How she and I would cruise around in my Honda DelSol, hard top off no matter how cold it happened to be, smoking cigarettes and reeking of Opium perfume, while we jammed out to “Low Rider.” We’d laugh about how my tiny car would be our coffin in the case of a crash.
If any car could have a soundtrack, that one would be War’s “Low Rider” cranked to 11.
Those were good days, back then, back when our biggest worries were if we had enough smokes or cash to grab a cup of coffee. Back before anyone was addicted to anything besides nicotine and caffeine and potentially The Rolling Stones. Back before we had ex-boyfriends, or SURPRISE! children, or welfare stamps.
As I drove home, I wished desperately that Steph could be here, here on Earth, if not with me, to appreciate what an absolutely fucking beautiful day it was today. Because while other people might be rushing around too much, too obsessed with the election to notice how glorious it simply is today, she would have.
It made me so sad to realize that I can never hear “Low Rider”–potentially the world’s corniest and least sentimental song–again without feeling a deep sense of longing for my friend whose bones will never hear it again. I’ll never be able to smell Opium perfume without being harshly jangled back to the Good Old Days which, of course, as teenagers, we never realized WERE good old days, without wanting to cry for my friend. Who will never douse herself in it again. I’ll never be able to appreciate the true beauty of a stolen late fall day without being reminded that she’ll never again feel the breeze rippling across her skin.
Today, I will listen to “Low Rider” in honor of Steph, who should be here listening along side me.
Maybe, just maybe, she is.