The first guy I ever "dated" was a drama major at Emerson College named David. He was friends and schoolmates with my best friend Sarah and we fooled around once during one of my weekend visits to Boston. Nothing really happened between us for months and months after messing around, but I got it in my head that I was madly crushed out on him. Mind you, I was actually madly crushed out on a "straight" high school classmate of mine named Hubie, but I was deeply in denial about it. Hubie and I would hang out endlessly and fall asleep on his dorm room bed in the middle of the evening. Well, he would sleep. I would lay next to him holding my breath, hoping he'd nudge his leg against mine one more time.
As Hubie and I hurtled toward an inexorable climax of sorts in our relationship, I somehow managed to start "dating" David, who had now graduated from Emerson and lived in New York City. I don't even remember how it happened, but our relationship mainly revolved around our telephones and mailboxes. We'd have long conversations that involved me curling up on the bench in the dorm room phone booth as we blathered on about anything and everything. I remember loving the time I spent in the phone booth talking to him - it was terribly romantic and seemed like exactly the kind of thing two lovestruck youths should be doing with their spare time. The epistolary side of our relationship was even more flushed with giddy, gushy, love-ness. David would write me these long, poetic letters with dark, vampire-ish, theater major overtones and send me little gifts along with them. One such gift came in the form of a mix tape that contained a ton of songs I forget and one song that stood out from all of the others: "Pearly Dewdrops' Drops" by The Cocteau Twins. I'd never heard a song like it in my life. And even though I couldn't understand a fucking word Elizabeth Fraser was singing, the song spoke to me on some visceral level. It filled with me with longing and melancholy and I was sure it was about someone as tortured, lovelorn and angst-ridden as me, and I played it until I wore out the tape.
Eventually, I went to visit David during a round of visits to some NYC-area colleges. I remember this really emotionally contained goodbye I had with Hubie where we joked about being a married couple having to separate for a vacation and then shared a too-long, too-tight hug. But it was nothing compared to how emotionally unprepared I was for having A Boyfriend in the Big City. After spending 24 hours with David I fled back to the apartment of a friend I was also visiting in Brooklyn and broke up with him via phone. It was a cowardly thing to do but I was 18 and he scared the crap out of me the way he seemed to want to devour me whole. I guess all of that intensity was fine over the phone or in letter form. But in person? In New York City? It was more than my naive little self could handle. I returned to New Hampshire and my barely-concealed object of love. It wasn't long before Hubie and I finally fooled around and, right afterward, he became distant and detached and found a new best friend; a girl this time. Even though I can look at that whole time with heaping spoonfuls of bemusement, the song that I associate the most with that whole period still works its magic on me as if I were 18. Although it holds more of a wistful, transcendent tone than it did back in my drama-laden days of yore. I still have no clue what in the world she's singing about. But I think I like it better that way.