But I did hesitate. I heard this cover last night and I’ve listened to it a bunch of times since. Most people associate The Cure with feeling happiness, lightness, get out and want to dance in the sunshine giddiness. Especially this song, right? But I find Phoebe Bridgers version better matches the feelings The Cure songs evoke in me. Have you ever listened to “Cut Here” — no? Look it up.
Music for the Mood: Friday I’m in Love (cover) – Phoebe Bridgers
The Cure always reminds me of this guy I dated in college. My first boyfriend, I guess. My first kiss (at 21!). He was the captain of the guys’ water polo team, I was captain of the womens’. He was into the Misfits, Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and all the punk bands. And The Cure. He wore black jeans and threadbare band tshirts and a studded belt. And those fat, cushy, skater boy shoes. We went to a formal once and he showed up with his hair dyed jet black and spiked all over his head. I loved it. My own hair was just growing back from having shaved it all off so mine was short and spiky too. We looked like Sid & Nancy dressed up as a polished, normal, country club couple. The picture from that night is still a favorite. I couldn’t find that one but I found this one — walking around in the rain, on a trip to Boston a few months later, when he showed up with bleached hair. I hated that look.
His name was also John. His friends called him “Johnny Utah” because he was actually from SLC and dripped all the adventure and confidence of his namesake from Point Break. My friends called him “the damned mess.” I don’t even remember why — but it became a term of endearment. He was delightful. Funny, handsome, athletic, deliciously tall, and wickedly smart. He’s a doctor now. Married, with three boys, to a girl we went to college with. I know it wouldn’t have really worked with us, at least not the me I grew into. I eventually went the opposite way in religion as an adult while he embraced our tiny, uber conservative, Christian bubble of a college and went on to marry a woman who became a pastor. No shit.
But I do wonder. I’m me, after all. Maybe I’d have become a different girl, a different woman, one that fit me and this world better? To this day, he’s still the only guy I’ve ever pursued, but also the only one I’ve ever broken up with. And that kind of haunts me. The what if and sliding doors of it all. Every other one of the handful I’ve dated has always left me, if not immediately because they were cheating (twice now) then soon after, for other women that they marry. I always said I broke up with him (the night before I flew to Cali for nationals in 2001) because he was too good to me, too nice, too into me, and it just freaked me out. Flying away for a week the next morning was a convenient ejection plan. I remember getting back and his friends were all so angry at me; I’d lost my mind doing that to such a nice guy. Frankly, so were my friends. There was just too much pressure to find your soul mate and be engaged by graduation at that place.
But, if I’m being honest, I think I actually thought that my friend was my “soul mate” and was holding on to a weird little nugget of hope but didn’t want to admit it. I think Johnny Utah knew that too. He’d spent enough time with me and my friends. He always knew there was a connection to one guy that he couldn’t replace. That friend ended up breaking my heart after college though. Something from which I’ve never quite fully healed.
I don’t like admitting that but it’s the truth. I’ve written about that relationship here before. The point is that I hesitated with that John. And here I am 20 years later. Still single. Still wondering about what ifs. And a lot about karma as it relates to another John.
On Friday, I wasn’t in love. I hesitated. Again. I told the dude from last week that I wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want to lead him on. Via text. Like an asshole. And then I blocked him so I didn’t have to know what that (probably) nice guy had to say in response. So I wouldn’t have to over-process another thing in my relentless mind. Like a technological ejection handle, minus the California sun.
I want to move on. I’m tired of reminding myself that what happened is real. That the past three years were not real. I want to meet someone that makes me not just forget but understand why it never worked with anyone else. Why “the damned mess” is not destined to be my best, forever. Someone for whom I won’t hesitate.