Once in a few years occurs a single, unforgettable night. Sometimes it’s filled with romance, and other times it’s just…a crazy night. I’ve had many of these over the years, but there’s one that I can’t forget…
I’d returned from Senegal a day before, my hair in kinky, bright blonde braids, my figure as svelte as ever, my spirit intact and particularly adventurous. I wanted to go to Boston that day; a singer I liked was signing posters at the Virgin Megastore (once Newbury Comics, now Best Buy), and just had to go. I remember arguing with my dad in the driveway about going on my own, but I ended up taking the commuter rail into the city.
I don’t remember much until I was at the store, and purchased a copy of the performer’s CD and a souvenir poster, then waited in line for an autograph. As it turned out, the boy in front of me was rather cute, and we ended up talking a lot. He asked about my braids; I told him I’d just gotten back from Senegal, he told me about his youth in Japan and his years in Hawai’i; this was his first time living on the mainland (though he was a US citizen). We got our posters signed and headed toward the train station together. With time to spare, he asked me if I wanted to grab dinner. We ate at Hooter’s (my first time), he paid. I was hooked.
A couple of weeks later, we went to Montreal together to see John Mayer (don’t laugh, it was 2002) in a small club. We had a good time, shared a room with two very separate beds, then returned home. I remember what I was wearing and I remember the hotel. I remember certain sights and I remember the concert. I have one photograph.
That same summer I had a lot going on. I drove to Poughkeepsie for the 4th of July to see a boy I’d met the semester before. I was working two jobs, making decent money, and hanging out with my hometown friends. And then one night, he called.
I don’t know what inspired it, but I agreed to meet him in Boston for a movie. I hopped onto the highway in my own car, drove the hour and a half, and met him at the movie theater. I remember the film, Minority Report, and I remember strange details; how bumpy the road was, the fact that we shared a large popcorn. After the film, I remember driving into downtown Boston in his clunky van with Hawa’ii plates, finally finding a spot on Newbury Street, hopping out, and walking around until we got tired. We got back in and drove around again, searching for a restaurant and finally settling on some all-night breakfast place. I ate blueberry-banana pancakes, he laughed at me, and I was happy.
Afterwards, he drove to a cemetery in Lynn and we sat talking for hours until the sun came up. I was tense; the attraction (for me, anyway) was palpable, but there was something about him that was untouchable, and I was 20 and virtually clueless. By the end of the night, I’d given up waiting. He drove me back to my car, and I drove home, stopping for Dunkin’ Donuts on the way. I got home and crashed, sleepy and satisfied.
We saw each other only one more time. It was a weekend in New York, but I wish I could pause time, change my mind, forget that. It’s unmemorable. What I want to remember is this huge city night, this night of anything, of this feeling of endlessness. I’ve only had it once or twice since. I can only imagine that it’s a rare phenomenon, something that happens a limited number of times in one’s life.
There have been a few more, of course, but both propriety and inhibitions change, and they become impossible to write about. I have this fear that there’s a finite number of those nights in a person’s life, something counted down, something we must resign ourselves to as we settle into predictability…or maybe not. Maybe we create them; maybe it’s our personalities that allow us to create memories like that, I don’t know. I can only hope for more.