It was June of ’86 when I hopped a plane for Port Richey, Florida. My former girlfriend had moved out of New York months earlier and I was in chase despite the fact we weren’t in love with each other. Ours was the kind of relationship that wasn’t interested with being in love. Cliches kicked the shit out of you and made you old before you really got going.
For most of the year and change we were together while she was still living in New York, forever had seemed a million miles long. And then it got lost one night when we were involved in a car accident that took my best friend’s life. Everything, every single thing, changed. We stayed together out of a hopeless desperation to save ourselves from drowning. Until the winter took us to different places, and New York, it became a place full of ghosts.
We broke up but stayed in touch. She almost got pregnant to a college football player while I swore I’d found my future wife in a Hardee’s Drive-Thru, and then we kept turning into someone elses until she called to tell me to get there, just for the hell of it.
It seemed like a great idea until I was touching down in Florida and wondering why in the fuck it was that life didn’t come with annotations. And then we were there, trying to catch up on everything we had lost and not having a chance in hell of getting back to what we had been before our lives spilled out in different directions.
The time I spent with her was filled with the kind of education only experience can provide. Among the things I learned was that the girl had more of my stuff than I remembered giving her. There was a half closet full of my clothes, including winter jackets she had no use for in her new locale but took with her just so she could wear them whenever she thought of me. She had a bunch of my vinyl, to which I cursed myself for giving up so easily. Other items of note included a sweet purple and gold Magic Johnson jersey, a Brooklyn Union Gas pylon I had gifted myself after a night of partying and a football helmet.
The more salient lesson happened from the moment I touched down and she ran into my arms. It was blatantly obvious that we tended to disagree. About everything. She thought the world was flat and I knew it was round. I was a Reagan kid and she loved Carter and Mondale. I read books like No More Vietnams and she read books like Phaedo. She was Mets, Chinese take-out, screwdrivers and U2 while I was Yankees, pizza, Corona and Bon Jovi.
It had never occurred to me that we had absolutely nothing in common back when we had been inseparable. But with the passing of time and place, now it was impossible to ignore. Once upon a time, I just assumed we were passionate and fiery. That’s some interesting shit. But the idea that we were just a couple of stupid kids who had nothing in common? Not so interesting.
So we debated who the best band in the world was and we never got back to even and then we argued on everything else. Until she was telling me to get lost and then I was hopping a plane out of there. Without my Magic Johnson jersey, or my two tone leather jacket . . . or my vinyl.
Twenty years later, we reconnected thanks to an old friend. There was zero expectation of anything romantic happening, but I had to admit it was nice to hear her voice again. She told me she was back in New York and she asked me if there was any chance we might be able to catch up over drinks. We were both divorced with kids and life was flying by and drinks with an old friend felt like a chance. To just forget all the things that time had stolen.
I had to get there. If only to ask how my LP’s were doing . . .