I should preface this by saying I wish I could still say that I don’t like Dave Matthews. He’s grown on me over the last two and a half years, just like a rash spreads. Scratching the itch helps, but it only spreads it worse and ends up being more annoying in the long run.
I find the album on my computer as I’m sitting around in my pajamas, in front of a blank Word Document. Ideas are swimming in my mind; I know what I want to and need to do. I try to figure out what it is about you that makes this album so appropriate, why I crash over you.
I realize that the ice blue in your eyes stops me in my tracks every time. I freeze when I look at them. The way you talk to me so effortlessly sometimes about nothing at all. Our little jokes about politics. You telling me the story about how we’d run for President against each other, fielding questions at debates about how we know each other and having to smile and try and bullshit some story other than the truth.
It’s your ability to make me smile, but it’s the way you frustrate me. I can’t really say I’m attracted to you anymore, but I can say that I’m attached.
I sigh, scratch my eye, and click the first track. I know what needs to be said.
Track 1: So Much To Say
Is there really so much to say? Really? I don’t really have that much to say to you anymore. I sit sometimes behind my computer screen and blog everything that I could say to you. There’s a whole tag about it; if you search “Dumbass Boy” you’ll find everything I’ve ever written about you and how I feel. That’s how I say it all. Never any other way.
“Keep it locked up inside, don’t talk about it. Talk about the weather.”
That has been my mentality for this entire thing. I’ve had things to say, but they stick in the back of my throat like a sandwich with far too much peanut butter on it. So I swallow them, like I would that sandwich, and let them go.
We don’t talk about the weather, but we talk about Dave. We talk about Bruce. We occasionally, when I’m in the mood for it, argue about politics. After all, we’ve got opposing political views. We’ve got quite a bit to say when it comes to that.
We don’t talk about the other girls you’ve seen, we don’t talk about my other past relationships. We talk about our music, we hook up, and that is that.
Track 2: Two Step
“Oh, my love, I came to you with best intentions. You laid down and gave to me just what I’m seeking.”
Wrapped in my comforter, trying to sleep. The radio plays George Strait. Knowing this battle is one I’m desperately going to lose, I reach over the edge of my bed and drag my laptop back out from the top drawer of my dresser. Why it’s you that’s sticking in the back of my mind tonight is beyond me.
I go through the archives of the internet, trying to find a Dave Matthews lyric to post that will get you to start talking to me. This is my tactic and I know it works nearly every time.
I post that line. You comment and the discussion of Dave begins. Eventually, we move to facebook chat, knowing that my ex is going to see these comments on my status and get suspicious. She doesn’t like you at all. She only met you for two seconds the very first day I was back in Albany after summer vacation. She was furious at me for seeing you before her, even though we’d been broken up almost three months at that point.
You come over to my room after all the messages have been exchanged and all the plans have been made. You call, telling me you’ll be here in ten minutes. The walk from Empire to Dutch actually takes about four or five. You have just as many preparations to make as I do. I note the time I get off the phone with you. You’re always running later than you say you are.
I’m running around like crazy, making sure I have clean blankets and sheets and I’m looking presentable, despite nearly always being in my pajamas. I have a smile on my face.
“You quench my heart and you quench my mind.”
You are here and we go through our routine. It never changes. When you leave, the loneliness that plagued me before is replaced by a new demon, the guilt of seeing you.
Track 3: Crash Into Me
I pause after the first three notes and take a deep breath. This song. This song is the one you played on your guitar for me the very first night we met. I was on facebook, distracting myself from a movie and an essay I had to write for class and it was getting late; a little after 1am if I’m not mistaken. You messaged me, asking if I wanted to go for a walk. After some persuasion and some not-so-subtle flirting, I agreed. After all, my essay really wasn’t going anywhere.
I met you outside my building. Oh, the days where we lived literally two minutes away from each other. You in Mohawk Tower on the second floor, me on the third floor of Seneca Hall. We set off, walking out behind SEFCU. It was dark and it was just the two of us. We laughed and joked. We’d gotten to know each other through a series of facebook messages over the summer, but this was the first time we’d seen each other in person.
Eventually we went back to your room. I was young and extremely naïve. I lacked the ability to just ever-so-politely say no. Besides, I’d barely ever kissed a boy before. That was once, a long time ago, during a drunken night in a garage in France.
You took out your guitar and played this song. You sang it for me. Nobody had ever done anything remotely close to this for me. It was something I’d only read about in the Sarah Dessen novels of my adolescence; something I thought only the perfect young-adult romance novel characters did. No, that night in early September, it happened to me.
We made out, and that was how it all started.
Track 4: Too Much
“I eat too much, I drink too much, I want too much.”
Hurricane Irene. Hurricane Irene turned into Hurricane Jessica. The first weekend of sophomore year for us was plagued by rain, rain, and more rain. This was the semester I decided I was going to start drinking and partying like every other UAlbany student did.
I brought a liter of Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka to my best friend’s room that night. I’d invited you to join us even though I know she isn’t your biggest fan either. I’d bought you a bottle of Grey Goose as a “coming back” present because we’d talked about it.
You forgot we’d mentioned it.
We drank screwdrivers. We never made it out of Colonial Quad since the weather was so dreadful. It took me a full day and a half to finally actually leave since everything was flooded and the shoes I was wearing were not suited for the weather. I was perfectly content with being drunk and with you.
I forgot myself that night, and we were making out on my best friend’s futon making things extremely awkward. I was too drunk to go home with you and you knew it. We were both drunk, but you were much closer to sober than I was. You could’ve taken advantage of me. Hell, you and I both know I wanted you to take advantage of me that night. You didn’t. My friends thought you would. Everything I’ve ever told them about you pointed in the direction that you would.
I blacked out, and forgot you left. I remember crying because you left and I felt like an asshole. I’m pretty sure I passed out at one point. And then all of a sudden I noticed a box. The calzones we’d ordered had arrived and you’d politely bought mine and my friends’. Just an effort to get me to sober up. That was the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me. I haven’t forgotten it.
You’re capable of good, despite what it seems like sometimes. Despite what I’ve heard from others. I know that you are capable of being a decent person.
Track 5: #41
“I wanted to stay. I wanted to play. I wanted to love you. I’m only this far and only tomorrow leads the way.”
I’ve complained to my friends so much about you over the last two and a half years that I really think I shouldn’t have friends at all. I’ve bitched and moaned about the fact we’ve never dated, about the bad sex, about the way you almost never acknowledge my presence in public like you’re ashamed of me, your grooming habits… The list could go on forever.
I remember my friends saying that you’re no good for me. I always say that you’re going to change. Because you are. You’re going to change. You haven’t yet, but you’re going to. Everybody does.
“I will go in this way, I will find my own way out.”
I have never asked you for help. I’ve never asked you for anything. You’ve seen the cuts and scars that are now all over my body. They never used to be there. I told you everything. I told you my trip to the hospital. I made sure, before I mentioned it, that you were sure you wanted to know. I explained, slowly, every detail of what happened.
You stood, in my extra towel in my bathroom as I finished washing my hair, in shock. The room smelled of mint and pomegranate as I rinsed my hair. I peeked behind the shower curtain and said “Now you’re noticing things…” as you stared at my thighs and at my wrists. You saw the red marks. They shocked you. At one point, you said something and I heard your voice break, as though you were going to cry. I didn’t want to believe that the mistakes I made even hurt you, someone I thought was barely affected by me. I never thought I meant anything to you.
I found my own way out that time and I think you may have realized that I might be more important to you than you thought and that perhaps, I might not always be around.
Track 6: Say Goodbye
I take a deep breath. I know what’s coming. I have listened to this song countless times.
“This is our song, Jess. It really is.”
I wish almost daily that I could forget the lyrics to this song.
I know what makes it ours and as I listen to the flute solo at the beginning, I have half a need to turn it off. I sit through it because I know it’s important.
“Now let’s make this an evening. Lovers for a night, lovers for tonight. Stay here with me, love, tonight.”
One cold, December night. Just over two years ago now. I made the walk alone, through the deserted quad to your room. I stomped up the flight of stairs in the tower, wearing my half-size-too-big snow boots. You heard me coming from outside the door and I didn’t even have to bother texting you to tell you I’d arrived.
You open the door and smile. You grab me by the hand and escort me into your room and wait to kiss me until then; you’re almost ashamed of me sometimes. I don’t blame you, the outfit I’m wearing is atrocious: sweatpants, a winter coat, and blue snow boots.
Slowly we started. You’d lowered your bed since the last time I’d been there which was a godsend. I’m short, you can’t expect me to be able to climb on a bed with a ton of sex appeal. I’m not graceful. I can’t even kiss you without standing on my tiptoes.
Clothes were placed on the floor, in a neatly ordered pile. That way when I had to leave it’d be easy. I’d had months of practice leaving your room quickly to go home to my own bed. We never slept over. Just did what we did and went our separate ways. I believe it’s better that way. My phone was silenced, it’s interrupted far too many times before and if I had anything to say about it, it wouldn’t tonight. Tonight I’ve decided it’s time.
We’ll be lovers for tonight and tomorrow we’ll go back to being friends.
Two minutes pass from the time we’re both completely disrobed to the time you’ve finally finished. I can still hear the laugh track from Family Guy in the background. It wasn’t worth waiting for. It wasn’t even mediocre.
“Just for tonight, one night…love you…and tomorrow, say goodbye.”
I try to listen to the rest of the album, but I know it’s only up to Say Goodbye that really matters. You’ve told me the song after Say Goodbye actually goes with it, but it’s not ours. The rest of the album goes by as a blur. I’m fixated on track six. I’m reading the lyrics over and over again.
I’ve got my phone in my hand wanting to text you, but you and I both know I won’t. I’ve tried almost hundreds of times to get your attention when I needed you, or at least when I thought I needed you. There was one instance I needed you to help me and you didn’t. I think that’s why I don’t ask anymore. I don’t think I matter to you or anyone else. You matter to me as much as I hate to admit it.
You’re comfortable, like my favorite oversized sweatshirt and my Crocs. My Crocs are a good metaphor for you, actually. Despite how much my friends say they are ugly and no good for me, I keep them around because they make me happy. Just like you. I keep you around because you’re comfortable. You’re worn in. You don’t change. You might have lost a significant amount of weight since I met you, but you’re still the bad kissing, adorable Dave Matthews fanatic with the startling cold blue eyes I met that September. I hate change, and having someone like you that never seems to change is exactly what I need sometimes.
At the end of the album, I shake my head. I put on my Bruce Springsteen and I get back to my life without you. After all, we’re only friends.
Editor's Note: This piece has appeared in multiple places, but was originally written for an Expository Writing course in college. The most recent home for it was Jessica's Medium account.