Saturday, May 26, 2012

Love, Summer Camp and Billy Joel

"How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies"

Billy Joel, "Summer Highland Falls"

For as much as I rag on Billy Joel, "Summer Highland Falls" will always be one of my favorite songs ever.  It's still sad and tragic and beautiful (especially the live version on The Millennium Concert; I've always maintained that Billy Joel, like Tori Amos, is better in concert) untarnished by the realization that Billy Joel is a fat rich crybaby.

For me, this song is 17 and The New York State Writer's Institute Summer Writing Program, which was 25 of the top young writers in the state.  It still remains one of the highest honors I have ever received, and I've been in Pank.  But the night before I left, Aaron dumped me (because Aaron was, among many things, a first-class asshole) leaving me mourning among strangers.

But I acted out, as I am wont to do, and made some friends by being incessantly quirky.  And I met a boy, Andrew, who was cute and sweet and actually liked me, which was sort of a rare thing at the time. We went on a walk and found a cool tower.  And then he asked me to Billy Joel night at the commons.  I was at a crossroads--Billy Joel was kind of Aaron and I's thing (our song was, appropriately, "And So It Goes" because Aaron was, among many things, insane) but here was a boy who was asking me to go someplace with him.  Luckily, something inside my 17 year old mind, in between thinking about Pokemon and MST3K, said "fuck that guy, Andrew wants to hang out with you, and Andrew is rad."

Billy Joel night, by the way, was a guy with a Casio keyboard playing Billy Joel songs.   We sat at white picnic tables.  All our other fellow campers were there.  When he played "Summer Highland Falls," I looked over at Andrew and he looked at me and we smiled at each other.  It was then that I knew that I was going to be just fine.

What with "Summer Highland Falls" as our song, you're probably not surprised that things ended kind of badly with Andrew despite not having ever really begun.  It sucked, but it wasn't unexpected, because life isn't always fair and sometimes both choices have consequences that far outweigh any benefits.  I don't blame either of us, because that's just how things go.  He hurt me and he may not have known it, and I know I hurt him without meaning to, but, like Billy Joel suggested, we couldn't fulfill each other's fantasies.  Despite this, I still thought of him fondly--if not a little wistfully--and that smile on a night when I needed to reclaim part of myself, even if it was just a song or two.

I touched base with him a little while ago and was kind of annoyed that I hadn't looked him up sooner, because he lives in Austin and I was in Austin last summer.  We agreed that if either of us was ever in the other person's time zone, we'd get dinner and catch up on all the years between us.  And we left it at that.

Most grand romances are not meant to be.  But I've found that the most epic of romances exist only in the span of a few short moments, when you're raw and unaware that something wonderful is happening until it's all over.  We can't marry everyone we meet, but that doesn't mean we can't, even just for a few seconds or minutes or hours, be in love without picking out china patterns and combining our bank accounts.  Sometimes love just needs to be that flutter of the heart as the object of your desire turns the corner, never to be seen again.

All that being said, Billy Joel is still a fucking ponce.

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