Love and other slush

Boston is slushy tonight.

Snow, sleet and rain tore through the city earlier, turning it into the perfect humid wonderland for all couples graciously saving the economy tonight. But I’m not bitter—slush can be quite inspiring.

As I trudged home through puddles up to my ankles, my mind was busy playing the chorus of Dear Leader’s Father Baker:

Don’t you know the lake is frozen
There you are you forgot your coat again
We’re spinning in your car on an icy road in Buffalo

I remember talking to Davy Rothbart of FOUND Magazine once about how the littlest of information in a lost note is enough for you to imagine someone’s life. It’s the same with this song—there is so much intimacy in the second verse. Not only did he or she forget their coat, but they are know for being careless, known for walking straight through slush and shrugging it off. After all, they are the wild child spinning their car on an icy road in Buffalo.

I was yelling these lyrics out last Friday night at their show, foolishly hoping that my coarse voice, which always breaks midway through any chorus, will get me there—coat or no coat. And then, when my feet were planted in this magical land where responsibilities are a fireside joke, I would mumble the opening of the song to remind myself that I had made it:

You stole the car with your parents asleep
Stupid kids do stupid things
Joy riding and aching to be
On our way to heartbreak street

This story is about cars, heartbreak, and—as always—embarrassment.

Before I actually started hanging out with real women, there was Laura. Laura was my first girlfriend, albeit an imaginary one (and no Mirela back in second grade does not count because despite my unrelenting desire, we did little else but hold hands during a school trip to the glass-making factory).

I “met” Laura when I was about 12 or 13 and let me tell you that meeting an imaginary girlfriend is hard. They don’t just pop up at school, or at work, or giggling with friends at the neighborhood dive bar. No, you meet imaginary girlfriends in all sorts of sleazy corners of your own imagination. It was a dark night when I met Laura—as dark as an asshole, as Celine would say—and my dad was driving our family back home from a visit to some relatives in a town about one hour away.

There is a hill right outside this town and I decided it made perfect sense that Laura, who was also 12 or 13, would be standing out there at night (what?!), hitching a ride back to her hometown, which of course was the same as mine.

Of course my dad picked her up and we sat in the backseat happy to have found each other. I have no idea what this Laura looked like, but I can guarantee you that she was the hottest imaginary 12 or 13 year-old living in Transylvania in the early 1990s. She must have told me pretty stories in that hour’s drive because here I am remembering our trip, more than a decade later.

Yes, we saw each other for a while after that, too. We had to fit it around our school schedule, so most of our encounters happened at night. In my bed. She was usually a pillow draped in a banana-green pillow case and we often made out furiously for about 2 minutes or so. I told her what a good kisser she was and she naturally said that it was me that made her a good kisser. I told her she was twice as awesome as ice cream, and she bit my nose and told me I was twice as smart as her entire family combined.

I vaguely remember that we did not consummate our torrid affair, probably because we thought of each other as being too pure for carnal endeavors. That, or I had come to my senses and decided that it’s one thing to kiss your pillow, and a whole other to hump it in the name of love.

We eventually broke up and I promise you that we have not seen each other since. There were three other imaginary girlfriends before I turned 16, but those were invented to impress others. Laura had been just for me.

When I eventually met a flesh and blood Laura years later (it was snowing, but it was not at night on top of a hill with my dad driving), it’s possible a great deal of my affection for her was prompted by her name alone.

It’s one particular moment in this period of my life that I remembered tonight as I was deftly trying to avoid a puddle only to step into another one (I am famously clumsy). I was talking on the phone at the same time and the friend at the other end was chiding me for not acknowledging the “coffee cup” Facebook gift she sent me as a joke earlier in the day. But I did acknowledge it, I protested.

I even sent a reply, I told her.

I didn’t get it, she said.

Maybe I sent it to somebody else then, I replied.

And that’s when it all came back.

I occasionally send really long e-mails that say nothing but are heavy on words (like this post for example). Well, in a Freudian slip back in 2002 I typed in the wrong e-mail address for the flesh and blood Laura, sending the message to a Hotmail account, instead of a Yahoo one.

I don’t have that e-mail anymore, but what I do have is a reply from this other Laura that received my message. I was living in Romania at the time so my e-mail was written in Romanian (it also probably included lyrics from Marilyn Manson). But the reply, written in all CAPS, was in English. This Laura had the same last name as the intended recipient so it probably means that she left Romania when she was young. Thus, even though she seemed to have deciphered the message, she wasn’t proficient enough to reply in Romanian.

Here is that e-mail in its entirety–I have converted it lower case to spare you the shouting:

I recieved your letter, and can read most of it and understand it. Yet, can you please send me another letter telling me exactly who you are? Please….i’m very sure who you are but let me know. And let me know what you/we should do about this important situation. This summer i will have some time off school, i want to do some traveling.

Can you please write back so we can arrange something?

This has been one of the most touching letters i’ve ever read…it was beautiful and makes my soul cry.

I’m sorry…

I don’t know what else to say, except for, we have a lot of talking to do. And if possible could you possibly write back in english. It would be easier for me to understand.

Laura 🙂

I never made anyone’s soul cry before or after. I also never replied to the mysterious Laura as I felt I had done enough damage with my „touching letter.” I don’t know if her travels were fruitful, nor do I know whether she found a solution to „this important situation.”

Still, I decided to dedicate this post to her. I hope that (whoever and wherever she is), she is happy today. I like to imagine her having a happy Valentine’s Day next to a guy who hums lyrics from Bon Savants’ „Between the moon and the ocean” into her ear.

Uh-oh, Uh-oh
You kiss like a Russian
Uh-oh, Uh-oh
We sank so low between the moon and the ocean
Uh-oh, Uh-oh

2 Responses to “Love and other slush”

  1. You made her “soul cry”?? I’d like to read the text of that email!!!

    I like this story. Write more.

  2. Agreed. Write more of this message in a bottle encounter. I can’t believe she wrote you back. I want more. Nay, I need more.

    I hate you because you’re writing is so brilliant, and imagery familiar without having been seen before. Laura could have been my imaginary girlfriend in 5th grade, but I was much too busy putting together the definition of “sex” with the help of my pre-wikipedia social circle (one of the members of which was named “Buddy”).

    I’m forced to wonder if everyone’s memory is so good as to recall the events from more than half a lifetime ago with perfect accuracy.

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