Last night I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I went out and met some new friends for drinks. I became online acquainted with a really great couple through a friend awhile back, and the four of us met up. We (the couple and I) are all beer people and the nice thing about that, is beer people can talk about beer for a really long time. We have other things in common as well and I knew it would be a good time. In the last couple of years my social anxiety has increased and I’m hyper aware that I can be spectacularly awkward. My small social circle is used to my bad jokes, my non-stop innuendos and my weird random fact burps. It’s part of my charm, but it’s a charm you have to learn to love.
So back in 1984 (we are taking the wayback machine tonight), when on vacation in Duck, North Carolina, I met a boy named David. David was exactly the type of guy I would never have had the nerve to hang out with in real life. But vacation life is different and he ended up being my vacation boyfriend for about 5 days. In retrospect, David was probably a future sociopath but at the time he was FUN. He was short and blond and muscular in the way 14 year old surfer boys seem to be. I don’t remember how he plucked me up from the hordes of girls at that campground but for a few days he picked me and plunged me head first into a new world of epic make out sessions, second base, my first hickey. Most notably; he dragged this shy, awkward girl by the hand and made her dance and play and lay down an artfully created shell and just be a silly 14 year old girl. There was a little diner down the road and our band of merry vacationers would go down and have milkshakes and burgers and cram the jukebox with coinage. David loved the Cars, and there are two songs that stuck out the most, the two he played for me. You might think. And Just what I needed. He danced me around that diner, giggling and blushing from the attention we were drawing to ourselves but to this day I remember that heady feeling. Somewhere in my house I have a picture of David and I. The night before I left he insisted we take pictures with all of my new friends. I don’t remember all of their names. The pictures are backlit and fuzzy and taken from too far away. But I love them. Melody, and the two brothers from Toronto. The rest have fallen into the background of my memory. David came to our campsite the morning of my departure. He gave me his sunglasses to take home with me, to remember him by.
I cried all the way from North Carolina to Indiana. We wrote back and forth for a while. Melody took my place as his campground girlfriend after I left. He had a girlfriend back home as well. He hoped I understood. David, you playa you. It’s ok, You were just what I needed.
Fast forward 20 years. I’m post divorce a few years and am raw from the weight of it all. The end of the marriage, the exhaustion of trying to keep it all together, a couple misses in the dating department. And I run across the little brother of a friend of mine on MySpace. Like when I was in high-school he was in kindergarten. He’s all grown up now and he happens to be “in between living arrangements”. I happen to be heading out of town for the weekend and need a house sitter.
At this point I’ve not seen him in person since he was a kid. Because I’m me, I go pick him up at the place he’s been crashing in West Central and we grab some beers at C Street and then we grab some more and we head home. The vagabond is pretty much the opposite of David. He’s tall with long dark wavy hair and these spectacular blue eyes. He’s an artist. Because, of course. I just can’t get past the tall, dark and handsome part. He pulls out my Cars CD and puts it on, and Just What I needed comes on.
He was fun, and he drug me around town for a few months. He danced me around bars and friends apartments and I got to feel a lot younger than I was for a while. Turns out he had a binding legal agreement living in another state. But for awhile, he was just what I needed.
Another decade later, that same cars song would show up in the midst of another heady entanglement. Another set of complex circumstances led to really beautiful cerebral interaction with someone who would go on to be one of those life changing friends. He popped into my life when I was still nursing the wounds of the end of my long term partnership with Chris. He didn’t open the doors to my creativity, but he blew the doors off. He forced me to look at my narrative and to change it. He made me brave. He pushed me mentally, physically, and creatively. Together everything we touched worked. We bounced ideas and theories, concepts and creativity off of each other. Our lives took different directions, but to this day he will call me out of the blue and lay down some crazy “you wont believe this shit’ stuff and I’ll throw some back at him and we will laugh and laugh. He just celebrated his 48th birthday and the birth of his third son with a new wife in a new state with new life. It’s just what he needed.
So last night at karaoke, this kid gets up and sings “Just what I needed”. And all these memories come flooding in. David. The Vagabond. My wonder twin. I have no doubts that at some point, someone new will walk through the door that will make that song relevant in some way. It’s funny how we have these little signs and pointers that pop up around us through the years and say “hey, pay attention to this”.
And I do. Last night, going out with new people for the first time in a really long time, was just what I needed.