"Hey pretty baby, get high with me. We can go to my sister's if we say we'll watch the baby. The look on your face yanks my neck on the chain and I would do anything to see you again ..."
Neko Case sang it, and I felt it as I laid on the passenger seat facing you on the trek back upstate.
It was passive listening because it was streaming through your car radio via my iPod. Active listening can really only be done the right way on vinyl on equipment that serves as furniture.
"An iPod and an adapter is not a piece of furniture," I thought aloud.
You looked down to me and just smiled.
"No, it's not. But you can still listen, right?"
"hey, there are such tender wolves 'round the town tonight..."
I tried hard to remember as much of two nights prior when you impressed me by digging out that old record player from the closet and somehow got it working with a little bit of Scotch tape. You said it'd sound better on your new one, but as the night went on, felt the opposite. Every record sounded better than the last. Maybe it was the drug; maybe it was the aura; maybe it was actually the record player; or maybe it was just what we wanted it to be.
We could've played "Thriller," "Bookends," "Oh, Inverted World," "Slanted and Enchanted" and "Highway 61" on your new one if the needle weren't broken. You cursed at your absent nephews for being careless, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was probably me who broke the needle when I was trying to cram the record player in your trunk the day you were moving away from me. I didn't say anything for the sake of ruining our wonderful, beautiful time we were having.
That night was really special. I agreed to do it because I trusted you and felt the most safe around you than probably anyone else except my dad. You were in a different place than me, and I wanted you to desperately feel everything I was feeling when I watched the sky turn from blue to black. So I told you I could have fun by myself and hunted the house for Monopoly dollars I swore your nephew hid. You eventually got there, too, but where I wanted to create art or messes or imaginary worlds, you wanted to create nourishment. You fed me tomatoes soaked in strawberry vinaigrette as I sat in the corner and cradled my knees. I didn't get up until dancing to "Billie Jean" became irresistible. I danced but actively listened. "Thriller" freaked me out and by the time "Your Algebra" came on from "Oh, Inverted World," I felt paralyzed hearing sounds I don't recall that band making.
We'd later watch a movie I tried to get you to watch three seasons ago, but never did. I was enchanted; you were intrigued. At the end, you snaked your arms around my legs, and I departed to the bedroom in hopes you'd follow. You did. My heart was clearly audible, and I sniffled when I realized that exactly one week ago, I was camping out in the hospital for a second night in a row and afraid to sleep because I knew when I woke up, she would be dead. I told you about how I was huddled under a couch in a waiting room because there were no blankets. I told you I knew she was gone when I watched the man with a beeper whiz by with a Bible. He was also wearing a Yamaka. You pulled me closer, kissed my forehead, cradled my head in your arms and I fell asleep watching the sky go from black to blue.
"Oh, how I forgot..."
I sat up and saw it was raining. You had your four ways on and could barely see the road in front of you.
"I feel very safe right now," I told you.
You looked over and your mouth moved upward a bit into a slight smile.
"You're strong at handling sadness," you said to me. "I'm, well, I'm strong at protecting."
I couldn't agree more.