Whenever I Skype my boyfriend, I ask him for new music.
When I left him in LA two months ago, I had no idea I’d fall out of the music loop so quickly. (Not to mention the fact that the club DJs in Paceville, the prime nightlife destination here in Malta, seem to have an undying love affair with “Moves Like Jagger.”) Needless to say, I need something new.
This particular day, he gave me the type of music that was typical of these exchanges – new Common, Drake, Tyga, J. Cole.
Then he asked me to find a song in particular.
“Which song?” To which he replied, David Guetta’s “Without You” featuring Usher.
“Have you heard it?”
To be honest, I’ve been kind of over Usher. Don’t get me wrong, “Confessions” has been a classic since I first bumped “Burn” in my hand-me-down mini van on the way to high school. And I’m usually one to be all into the top ten songs played over and over on MTV and the radio. But with recent Usher I’ve had to draw the line.
It all sounds the same. Oh look, yet another R&B artist teaming up with some house music DJ. And I was sure I’d heard it. Probably didn’t hate it, but at the same time, just wasn’t memorable. You can only hear the same thing so often before it fails to really make an impression.
And I knew it sure as hell did not come close to being the kind of music that moves me beyond words – the kind that strikes those heart strings, that awakens your senses; that triggers that music-induced dopamine rush in the brain. The kind of music whose mysterious brilliance penetrates the ear drums, flows through the body, and pours into the soul. The kind that gives you chills.
Sometimes he will just give me music that is popular or that he hears a lot on the radio because he knows that I like a lot of that stuff, even if he doesn’t really care for the song himself. I figured this was the case.
“Just listen to it, listen to the lyrics.”
Huh? It’s a David Guetta + Usher song. Is he serious?
“Can you listen to it right now? I like it, I can definitely relate. Do you have time to listen to it right now?”
Oh. Okay, so now I was curious. I’m sure you can guess how I am – heart on my sleeve, emotions all out there, mushy gushy, kind of girl. My boyfriend on the other hand – not as open with his feelings. Tends to keep things in. Not that he isn’t a lover with the biggest heart, but he definitely doesn’t often showcase those feelings.
And he is not as big into lyrics. I’m a sucker for sweet, deep, thought-provoking lyrics. He, on the other hand, is more into the musical element. The lyrics could be so dumb and vulgar to me, but he will reply with, “I just think the beat is sick.” And I would just think to myself, well, the lyrics are making me sick.
So I was interested to hear what called for this occasion of him actually taking note of the lyrics specifically.
And then the song started playing. And this time, I paid extra attention.
I can’t win, I can’t reign / I will never win this game without you
My thoughts went back to the day he saw me off at the airport. When I went to give him the last hug, last kiss. I, of course, was already a hot mess, sobs so violent, sending my whole body into compulsion.
I am lost, I am vain / I will never be the same without you
And looking up through the haze of tears, I saw that he was crying too.
Disclaimer: Babe – if you’re reading this, calm down, I’m not jeopardizing your street cred. Let me clarify.
See, to the typical person’s definition, it wasn’t really crying. Ron does not cry. To him, hearts aren’t meant to be worn. This was the closest to the definition that I’ve ever seen, though, and probably as emotional as he gets – his face goes blank, numb. His eyes glaze over as tears gather… But you won’t ever see one fall, he won’t let you.
I won’t run, I won’t fly / I will never make it by without you
But I don’t need to see tears, I don’t need to see a dramatic display to understand how he feels. Which is so representative of our relationship, of who he is. He is a man of few words, but I like that. I prefer it.
Because those few words remain untainted. They don’t exhaust themselves, don’t slowly diminish in meaning as a result.
I can’t rest, I can’t fight / All I need is you and I’m without you
As a girl who loves her words, this was difficult for me to accept in the beginning. I love words. I turn to them. They paint the emotions that make up the world that is my mind, which is extremely complex and just incredibly difficult to explain. But they’re the best I’ve got at portraying what it is that goes on inside. My words express, my words are me. My comfort, my comic relief, the poetry that represents this chaos within. I’m not just good at using them, they are my world.
Sometimes I drown him in my words. And sometimes he drowns me in his silence. So when we switch roles in rare instances, sometimes I speak more volumes with my silence. And when he uses words to express what he feels, they have the ability to move me well beyond the few words resounding at the surface.
If you’re not here, I’m paralyzed without you
Now, like most things that are rare, his words are so valuable. Like lyrics to the right music, his words to the right moments have the power to move me to tears.
He doesn’t let anyone in. There are a select few outside his family. People who are on the outside don’t get to see who I get to see.
All I can think of at this point is why me? How did he let me in?
I lost my heart, I lost my mind without you
I miss him so much. I miss him dropping me off at work. I miss waking up next to him. I miss bugging him to quit his bad habits. I miss him bugging me about how dirty my car is. I miss his OCD-organized car. His OCD-organized everything. I miss the breakfasts he cooked for me. I miss driving with him to LA. I miss trying to wrestle and always losing. I miss riding in the car with him, holding the hand free from the drivers wheel. I miss his smell. I miss his kisses. I miss his hugs; the ones that linger, the type of hugs that allow me to just stay resting my head on his chest. I miss the home, the comfort that is being in his arms.
And as the ballad portion of the song ends, the tempo picks up, the bass bumps louder, and the song breaks out into that poppy/techno dance sound that would normally make me roll my eyes and change the station, I started to get teary-eyed.
It’s so hard to be away from him. And I know it’s hard for him too. I feel it so much when we talk.
“Did you like it?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s really good,” I said quickly.
We hung up shortly after, and when I went to bed, I brought my music player with me and I played it again. And again. And then another time until I felt myself slowly drifting off to sleep. And before I knew it, my pillow was soaked.