Lea was controlling the music in the car. Lea is always controlling the music in the car. It's fine. I realize that the things that make me smile or sing along or tap out the rhythm on the steering wheel or bang my head at stop lights ceased to be relevant decades ago.
"I love this song!" she says, turning up the volume. I'm going to need to turn that down after she gets out of the car, I remind myself, or it's going to be really shocking the next time I turn the key.
Ah. 1985. When is this stupid song going to stop feeling so relatable? I might change a few of the specific references, but the gist sure is uncomfortably accurate.
I was in grad school in Texas at the beginning of 1985 -- thousands of miles from home -- still feeling the sting of a broken engagement. MTV was on 24/7. My roommate and I knew every ladies' night and beer special in town and we were out pretty much every night. I had started up a rebound romance that was as doomed as rebound romance generally are. When they make the movie, the part of the rebound boyfriend will be played by John Cusack. Hopefully he moved on to someone who treated him much nicer than I did. He wasn't a bad guy, it was just a bad time. I wasn't a bad girl, it was just -- oh, who am I kidding? I sucked. I was a lousy girlfriend and a lousy roommate. My shit was definitely not what you might want to call pulled together in the early months of 1985.
Late winter turned into spring and spring turned into summer and summer saw me moving briefly back home, then to Maryland where I got to be a lousy roommate again -- this time to two of my friends instead of one. I met Evil Tom before the year was out and began a spiral I needed to actually be rescued from.
But I've made it sound awful!
I mean -- parts of it were. I DID end one bad romance and begin another all before I'd gotten over mourning the one from before... I DID find out that the one from before had gotten married -- because I called -- I never called him because I knew it was stupid and there was always someone around and I didn't want to look stupid in front of anyone, but one weekend my roommates left me unsupervised and I called and his dad said he couldn't come to the phone because he was on his honeymoon and I lost my shit in the most epic meltdown you can possibly begin to imagine. And I WAS a bad girlfriend to a good boyfriend, and a bad roommate, and a good girlfriend to a bad boyfriend -- all of that is true -- but there was more.
There was -- Springsteen, Madonna...
There was all this potential -- life could've taken me anywhere.
Now I've got two kids in high school (to tell me that I'm not cool). My dishwasher is broken. I wash dishes an average of 4 times a day. Between errands. In the SUV. Which isn't yellow, but it IS an SUV. And this is my life. I don't know that I ever aspired to shake my ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car -- but I sure never envisioned this.
Not in 1985.
But again, I've made it sound worse than it is. Not that I love doing dishes and driving. Because I'd be hard pressed to come up with two things I like less. Pretentious people, I guess. I like pretentious people less. And inequality. That's something I really can't get behind. But I've digressed.
I have stability.
It isn't as exciting as unlimited potential.
But it is warm and comfortable and sweet. It is deep and real and good.
I would never trade it for 1985.
I remember an evening, in the late summer of 1985, drinking wine with my roommates and discussing our married friends and wondering, somewhat wistfully, if we'd ever have that. We longed for someone to love -- and for someone to love us -- and for a house to keep.
No, I wouldn't trade even a moment of what I have now for what I had in 1985.
But I reserve the right to indulge, from time to time, in a little preoccupation.