Moondoggie wasn’t her first love, but he was the first; the kind of first that is the catalyst for understanding yourself for the first time. Why you feel the way you do about a person, what led you there, etc. She always said that he shaped her attractions for years to come, “His long, light brown, shoulder-length hair rested upon his California-tanned skin; kind hazel eyes; authoritative taste in music; the way t-shirts fell upon his shoulders and rested around him just as languidly as he wore his surroundings…” He was the best parts of her loves past – only this time, you found all those traits in one person. Most girls would find him the kind of California surf-bum (greasy, dangerously carefree, and unemployed) useless to society. Luckily, the way he looked on a skateboard blinded her to popular opinion.
Born two months apart, their love was the kind of legend. Legend because of the time it took for them to finally become a couple. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it finally happened. And well, legend enough for a book, which spawned a few movies and even a short-lived (but beloved) sitcom. Her name is Frances, and she idolized and envied Moondoggie and his circle of cool, but even more so she was drawn to him. He felt the same way, although he always fell short when attempting to articulate. You could see his every feeling by the way he looked at her every time with childlike curiosity and wonder. When she was around, he beamed like the brightest star in the desert sky.
The first time they met was on the beach, the next was at a concert, the next was at a club… They were nineteen and these meetings were never planned – but they seemed to run in the same circles without sharing the same friends. Their interactions were a practice in patience. Frances had a live-in boyfriend of three years, and Moondoggie in a similar situation for four. Still, they partook in harmless flirting and openly admitted their crushes on each other, much to the chagrin of their significant others. There was never any urgency to become involved – as if some kind of intuition whispered to them faithfully so that they both knew it was inevitable.
They finally got together after eight years of knowing each other. It wasn't rocky or resembled anything near a roller-coaster. Both of them totally accepted each other as they were. Time spent with each other wasn't obligatory or guilt-driven, it was always wanted and welcomed. And when time together couldn't be had, it was totally understood. Though I wouldn't call it "passionless" - these are two people with lots of gusto for everything in their lives. They did amazing things - art shows, DJ gigs, rock bands, funny blogs, long short stories and nostalgic photo books. Maybe it was because they had known each other for so long - through witnessing their other friendships and relationships but it was beautiful in the way there was such great acceptance and they were both so cool with each other and rolling with the punches...
But this is not a story about their relationship; it is a story about the poltergeist of their love. The reason for their split is mostly irrelevant, but if you must know – it wasn’t infidelity or mistrust. It was simply a needed shift. She noticed that the dynamic had changed, and although she loved him – she recognized that being with him changed something. What she thought she always wanted was something she wasn’t happy having after all. She repeatedly said that she didn’t feel like herself. Yes yes, I know it seems silly. But what do you do in that situation? Unhappily remain in the relationship until you feel whole again? That can take years of deceit, even if it stems from a place that is well-meaning.
It is now close to two years since their break up. She went to go see him the other night, and I was there. It was one of their old haunts, but redone and redecorated – in the way that Los Angeles can hardly preserve anything. Everything gets rejuvenated, surgically augmented, lifted, bleached – sometimes to an extent in which you don’t recognize it any longer.
I was surprised to see her walk in, you can usually bet of late that if Moondoggie is performing or hanging out somewhere that Frances will be distant if not completely absent. She went straight for his table. “Hey,” she greeted him – barely audible over the music.
He looked up in a moment of surprise and a glowing smile grew on his face, “Hey! I didn’t recognize you!” He stood up. She confidently extended her arms and he walked into her embrace. “You look really good,” he said. Standard what-to-say-when-you-see-your-ex 101, but he was sincere. He gestured over to a table next to his station, and asked her to sit there. She nodded, “Sure. Thanks.”
They didn’t talk much. He was busy with his duties and she was with a friend – but their proximity to each other was kind and comfortable. Frances didn’t know it but Moondoggie had suffered a terrible day, and this was the first time he genuinely smiled. Unbeknownst to her, he looked at her continuously through her stay – it was as if he wanted to reach out to her, confide in her, and be close to her. It was touching, and very outside his general demeanor. It was as if she positioned her body so that she wouldn’t have to look his way, some kind of directional force-field. I thought that she might have a moment of weakness if she looked at him too long. But she and her friends screamed and laughed and drank themselves dizzy. The former couple embraced once again as they were saying a friendly plutonic goodbye. He watched her as she left the club.
Obviously, from reading this you probably think that I know Frances more than I know Moondoggie. I honestly couldn’t say. She is more open and forthcoming with her feelings, and he is James Dean type reclusive and of few words. But I would say that they have expressed their emotions about each other equally to each of their own capacity. The way they got together was so normal, and the way they were together was so practical. You wouldn’t even know now that they were once in love, you would never guess. But I knew and I know. And as I watched them, although they are apart and single – I felt a little jealous over what they had when they were gorgeous and together, and the mutual kind of love they have now.
It would be great to think that you can love someone enough to put your pride aside and get along with them as these two do. They clearly respect and still love each other enough to smile, hug, and confide in each other – without being too close and getting manic over who is playing tonsil hockey plus with who right now. It’s a huge balancing act, which I’m sure wouldn’t exist if they didn’t keep their distance from each other as much as they do normally. And I know that at Frances has to be in the right mindset to do so. Nonetheless, they can leave one hopeful about life after love. (It doesn’t always all go to feces.) They’re like heroes, resurrecting faith and establishing acceptance over a love not lost, but changed.
Pixies - La La Love You
Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
Pixies – Hey