He'll Say This Much

          Last night while listening to Neil Young, he saw your face in the fire. There’s not much he hates more than when he sees this coming on, but he can’t stop listening to the music. Hey, it’s Neil Young! And it takes him back to Madison, to your famous long winter walks in the night. Snow Angels. Snowball fights. He hates especially to remember when you finally announced to him that you were his for keeps: “I am yourrrrs.” He loves the way you rolled your R’s and tries not to wonder if you remember him like he remembers you.
          Now whenever he hears someone like Emmylou Harris or any country song from back then on the radio, CD, in an elevator, he travels straight back through time to you. It’s a quick trip. It always somehow seems like just yesterday anyway. What an idiot. So much wasted time when early on he couldn’t see all the ways you tried to throw yourself at him. How could he have been so obtuse? Maybe he’d be well worth forgetting for being so stupid. Do you remember that? Why didn’t you just give up? You could have done him a huge favor.
          Funny — now maybe. He still cannot believe you were so upset the night his car died in the West Towne Mall parking lot. Quite a bit of grief you unloaded in two or three minutes. Apparently these things happen. Maybe not so much in Hawaii in the dead of winter, but in freakin Madison, Wisconsin? Come on. On his 24th birthday you two had to walk home, and you scared him because you sobbed every step of the way. Probably he'd figured out before you said anything that it wasn’t just the car and the lengthy trek through the blizzard.
          Finally when you said goodnight, you managed to tell him, sort of by the way, that you knew you two were through. Not quite the same as singing Happy Birthday to You, but he always wanted you to know that he appreciated the cake and the candle earlier at dinner. Oh, and the Cross pen. All of this before the 180 turn. And he hopes you realize that it was an even longer slog for him since he still had to trudge all the way to his house for another hour in the driving snow. Yeah, Happy Birthday to him.
          Nowadays, you know, when there’s nowhere to go – except to all those tired places where people go when there’s really no love to find there anyway — he can still go back to you in his mind, no thanks to people like Neil and Emmylou. It’s a trick he tries to forget, and he’ll never forget when you told him later that this new love you’d found was definitely “the one,” only to break up with that one right after. To this day he even tries to forget that he still wonders if you remember him like he remembers you.

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