Neko Case should be a far more famous songwriter than she is. She wields words with the magic and power of a sorceress. “That Teenage Feeling” has been in constant rotation on my playlists lately, the struggle to love someone with the innocence of youth after you’ve lived a life that’s known heartbreak. My favorite verse is the fervent hope of her brave friend who declares; I don’t care if forever never comes ’Cause I’m holding out for that teenage feeling…
I knew that feeling once when I was very young where I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, was fueled and driven by thoughts of that girl. We fell hard in and out of love. It was brutal. After that I fell into relationships that offered a comfort zone and expectations were relatively low, the heat was set on low, no chance of anything burning down.
When my wife and I separated last year and our marriage finally ended, I figured I’d had a good run. I brushed the dirt off, tended to the bruising and accepted that I’d live the rest of my life in solitude. Then I met someone who turned my world upside down.
My girlfriend and I are ridiculous. We are currently in a long distance relationship fraught with complications. We spend hours video chatting, on the phone, messaging and sexting. We talk about everything and nothing, giggling, crying, bemoaning circumstances, repeating, “I miss you” and “I love you” over and over like a couple of teenagers.
When we met in real life fire warnings were set to red, high alert. Within a half an hour we were naked. We held hands as we walked and talked exploring the city where we’d decided to rendezvous. We’d stare at each other, grinning like fools, aching with want and desire. On a carnival ride we held onto each other with no intention of letting go because clearly we were going to fall, how we landed depended on we cushioned it for each other.
My girlfriend is a sexy nerd. She talks to me about the mystery of sea creatures, rodents and other wild things. She quotes research articles and academic scholars, she Googles everything. She has a big beautiful brain, a wicked sense of humor and takes my breath away every time I look at her. She is an incredibly talented writer who shows me how to be a better one. I want to be the best version of myself because of her.
She reads queer romance novels. I have never read any kind of romance novel. She tells me that we are like one. This makes me cringe. Especially when she says that the language we use is similar. My discomfort makes her laugh. And yet, I am far more romantic than her. She is relatively stoic (though I have cracked the code). She says romance novels are filled with daunting circumstances and obstacles not unlike our own. And even though you know how the story will end it is these things that make it so compelling.
My life derailed when I was seventeen. She has her own teenage story. We’ve declared this love story our teenage re-do. This, this is worth holding out for. This is that teenage feeling.
(Song recommendation by Erin L. Cork)