I know we haven’t spoken in awhile, but you know I’m always thinking about you around this time each year. I wanted to tell you about this dream I had. I don’t remember many of my dreams, so when I do, I figure they must have some significance. But who the hell am I, Freud? You’re the philosopher, dude.
Anyway, I was snuggling Sophie into bed and drifted off to sleep. She’s been waking up in the middle of night and this has been doing a number on me. I had some shit to do late at night, so I was happy to catch a quick catnap before I “hit the old grind stone,” as my dad used to say.
You and I are reminiscing about the night we went to see Santana and Phish at Blossom back in ’92. The night was July 31; I recall this because the next night was my first date with Julie. We drove to the concert in my Horizon and got really stoned at the show. I was so far gone that I was paranoid throughout the entire Santana set. Man, the only thing I remember about Santana was that every song ended the same. “Dun dundun Dun dundun,” you know, like the ending of “Black Magic Woman.” After the show you had to drive home. We were hungry and stopped at that Burger King near the amphitheater for some late night grub. Instead of eating in the car, we crouched down in the parking lot and devoured the burgers and fries off of the asphalt. I made a comment that we were like cavemen — hovering over our kill and feeding our faces. We laughed.
In the dream, you’re wearing blue cut off shorts and a light blue, button-down shirt. Your hair is pulled back in a ponytail, with a few strands of your brown, curly locks dangling in your face. You’re trying to roll another cigarette, but having a difficult time because the two of us are laughing off our asses. We laugh so hard that I double over. When I sit back up to look at you, you’re gone.
I woke up with a start and climbed out of Sophie’s bed. A melody came to mind: U2’s “Hallelujah (Here She Comes)” (download). You’re the only person I knew who bought the “Desire” cassingle. Cassingles, whose bright idea was that, huh? But that was the only way you could get your hands on another one of those U2 B-sides you used to love. U2 were your band, to me. You were into them before the rest of the world. The rest of us caught up with you by The Joshua Tree. Man, I can still see us as high school juniors listening to “Where the Streets Have No Name” in my folks’ dining room. You remember, right? We were imitating the Edge and Bono, swaying back and forth to the music as if there was a sea of people in front of us. I think about that moment now and realize…the curtains were open! Anyone passing by the house would have seen a couple of dorks practicing their dance moves! But we didn’t care, huh? No, we didn’t. It was U2.
Whenever I hear “Hallelujah (Here She Comes),” I recall your story about seeing “Rattle and Hum.” The music was so powerful that at one point, you jumped up and danced in the aisle of the movie theater. What surprises me about that anecdote is the reaction from the rest of the audience. The stares of disdain really surprised me, especially in a liberal college town like Athens. Come on, people, it was U2.
I don’t listen to U2 much anymore, or Dylan, for that matter. No, those are your bands, and listening to them is like playing with an old scar…sensitive. It’s been three years since I got the phone call. Sweet Sally, calling with unbelievable news. Then I contacted your mom and she confirmed it. With a voice as blank as I imagine her heartbroken stare must have been, she told me you had died.
Strange, that as time passes, the sadness I felt becomes a sort of numbness. The wounds aren’t open anymore, just scar tissue. I’m used to the dead pain in my heart whenever I think of you…whenever I hear fucking Bono start to wail. I can still listen to “Hallelujah (Here She Comes),” though, maybe because it’s never been played on the radio, or maybe because it’s such a joyous song. When I hear this song, I envision you dancing wildly in the aisles of the movie theater, your shaggy hair bouncing and your glasses askew. And you’re singing at the top of your lungs:
I’m gonna be there
When that light’s gonna shine
I’m gonna be there
When her heart is next to mine
I’m gonna be there
I hope you’re there, Matt. I miss you, my brother.