It’s a moment that’s snuck up on you—a moment when you realize, beyond doubt’s shadow, that you are in love, that the woman you love is sitting next to you, in the passenger seat, wearing thick red-framed sunglasses you’d made fun of just a month before, but which you realize, now, that you love, because she’s wearing them, she likes them, she has placed them on her face, a face you love to look at, love to caress, love to love. Her hair is blowing from the air coming in the open window; soon that air will turn salty and moist and warm—shore air, beach air, air thick with remnants of the ocean and the heavy touch of summer. She nodded off a few moments ago, and you have to remember your job is to keep your eyes on the road before you, though you’d rather be looking at her. You could look at her all day.
The moment freezes, even in the heat, and you take in everything around you—the heat of the driver’s seat against your bare legs, where your shorts don’t cover; the dusty topography of the dashboard you never can remember to clean; the can of Sprite sitting in the cup holder hooked onto the door, to your left; the duffel bags in the back seat—yours and hers, leaning into each other in an awkward arrangement, the result of a careless toss; your breath—easy, smooth, in spite of the unconditioned humidity in the car; the feel of the hot steering wheel in your hands, the give of the gas pedal under your foot; the song on the radio as the car moves swiftly and purposefully toward your destination.
Ah, the song. The music of the moment. The soundtrack of your realization, your recognition of love as something you had in you but could not share before now. You don’t recognize the artist at first; the synthesizer plinking that opens the song fails to catch your full attention. Then the verse slides in:
In a lifetime
Made of memories
Every moment returns again in time
When I’ve got the future on my mind
Know that you’ll be the only one
The two of you haven’t been together all that long, and yet there are so many things you know you’ll one day remember as the foundation of your life together—that “lifetime made of memories.” It’s that future the singer’s talking about, a destiny you only recognize when looking back upon it; it’s invisible before that because you’re too busy living it—like this moment, now, in the car, driving while she sleeps.
You move forward; the song moves forward.
In a lifetime
There is only love
Reaching for the lonely one
We are stronger when we are given love
When we put emotions on the line
Know that we are the timeless ones
“We are stronger when we are given love.” Love is something that’s inside us all, but it just sits there until we can share it with someone else. You want to share yours with her; you think she knows it; you hope she feels the same way; you think she does. You know you feel stronger when you’re with her; a line like “Know that we are the timeless ones” can only make sense when you feel this strong. It’s the only time such an odd, otherworldly sentiment elicits a knowing nod and not laughter.
Yet, there’s still no small amount of vulnerability here. When we put ourselves on the line—emotionally, physically, wholly, fully—we leave ourselves open for a world of hurt. That’s why the chorus knocks something loose within you:
Meet me half way
Across the sky
Out where the world belongs
To only you and I
Meet me half way
Across the sky
Make this a new beginning of another life.
She needs to reciprocate, to put herself on the line, as well. She repositions herself a bit in her seat, and you notice her lips, her neck, the light sheen of sweat on her shoulder, where the strap of her shirt has moved slightly as she leans further into the window breeze. You’re an hour away from your destination, but you want to pull the car over, gently nudge her awake, and tell her everything that’s stirring in you now, want to tell her before the song ends, while the many iterations of the singer’s voice repeat that chorus, the one iteration that practically cries in the back of the mix late in the song. You want to know what she knows; what she’s feeling; whether she’s willing to put herself out there with you; whether she, too, believes a new beginning is possible. What would she say?
In another frozen moment you’ll never forget, she opens her eyes, sees you, and smiles.