Florida Stories: A Soundtrack (part 2)

I created a Spotify playlist entitled “Goodbye Florida / ‘ello London” that I’ve yet to share. It contains songs about the sun, ocean, and Southern living, in addition to tracks indicative of Londontown (or at least tunes I have attributed to the UK). I keep circling around the unintentional soundtrack of my last few months in St. Petersburg. In part one I discussed Third Eye Blind following me throughout my last summer, and in this installment, I’d like to cover a series of songs that I associate with boys. I’ve been unfriended via Facebook by a male friend due to an essay on the friendzone, which got me thinking about the various people in my life: their coming and goings, how they enter and exit my life, and why some are forgotten while others leave an indelible mark.

Whenever I hear New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” I can only recall underage drinking, endless dancing, and making out – things that seemed to be the most important part of my weekend when I was finishing up high school and going to the Masquerade for 80s night.

There was a time when I lived for this song. I would lose my mind and destroy the dance floor with my moves. One guy in particular will always crop up whenever synth-y goodness hits my ears. It was “our song” during those nights. Once that familiar beat played over the oversized speakers we would run to each other. Some of my favorite kisses have come from those dances. We never dated. Hell, we rarely talked about anything serious. We had the dark club and Bernard Sumner. I moved away for college and he stayed behind. Over time he moved away too yet he visits St. Pete here and there. I’ve even run into him at various dive bars during the holidays and we politely chitchat. That magical feeling is long gone now that we are adults. The memory of his embrace has faded after over a decade of downplaying my true feelings for him. To this day I don’t know if our affection was mutual or hormone driven. Whatever the case, this song makes me feel glad that I’m alive and capable of aging while maintaining my inner eighteen-year-old self.

Of course, as I got older and more complex, so did my relationship with men and music. My indie rock-scenester-hipster days coincided with a raging quarter-life crisis that gave way to the trendiest Jenn ever. I had a hoop nose ring and fashion mullet dyed jet black. I spent all my nights out at the Castle, Czar, and/or the Orpheum drinking PBR. I obsessed over new and obscure music. I went to a shitload of shows. Ted Leo winked at me once. See, I bought into the lifestyle hook, line and sinker. This phase of my life is not my proudest. The standout track of 2006 would be Irving’s “Jen, Nothing Matters to Me,” as if, it was written exclusively for me.

At the time, I was interested in experience. To be a good writer I was convinced I needed to live a full, weird life of my own design. I guess the hipster archetype was a convenient way to do just that. I dated a cross-dresser who performed in a one-man-band of the Girl Talk ilk mixed with a sexually confused Daft Punk sporting a wig instead of a helmet. I went out on one date with a man who was just released from jail after serving twelve years for possession of drug paraphilia. He sparked up a joint in my car. (Some people never learn.) There were a series of abusive assholes, cutters, drunks, addicts, bisexuals, and married/unavailable men to follow. I lived it up in the company of some of the most horrible human beings to ever walk the earth and part of the shame of my indie rocker period rests in the terrible company. I opened a very dangerous door and walked through it with an open heart. Turns out, vulnerability is like chum to the scenester shark. The kicker is that those dudes were very upfront about their peccadilloes. They weren’t hiding their scars; they were putting them on display. They completely owned their messiness. I was the poser, all alone in my misery with a raging drinking problem and deep depression.

There is one guy who encompassed all my fears. One man who had zero respect for me and continued to abuse me emotionally for years. I let him. I had no respect for myself or the wherewithal to combat my low self-esteem. He dumped me several times via text message. Each time he took up with another girl almost immediately. One was a seventeen-year-old high school student whilst he was working on his PhD. Another was a single mother from his consulting job. He lived on MySpace. He chronicled his every move and I read about all the fun he was having with other women while I sat at home with a bottle of cheap champagne and Vicodin wanting to die. Worse, I wanted him to feel bad for my death. As if that would’ve crossed his narcissistic mind. But I went back for more. I suppose I was the true narcissist of the relationship. To this day I’m not sure if it was love. I know that it ruined me for a long time and singlehandedly forged issues with intimacy, trust, and commitment. Or maybe those issues were always there and he just brought them out in the cruelest fashion possible. I don’t know where he is now. He took himself completely off the internet somehow. Or changed his identity because there is no trace of him anywhere. Part of me believes that I made the whole thing up. My imaginary fiend. My invisible heartbreaker.

The good news is that I’m no longer a victim to circumstance and the whims of others. I’m able to stand up for myself and preserve this hard won sense of self-respect. I can be present and in the moment without the fear of failure. The Jenn I was is a completely different person. I barely know that girl. She grew up and kept most of the positives from a life of mistakes and learned from the negative. Guarded? Sure. But that vulnerability is slowly finding its way back by degrees.

What will my next song be? I don’t know.

Who will be the boy to inspire another musical memory? I don’t know.

I had a laundry list of tracks for this posting and only two really mattered. Only two. Perhaps, another time.

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