The night before his birthday, on my evening alone, my son is riding with his Nana when they pass a car stalled on the side of the highway. He thinks the car looks like mine, and suddenly he’s worried that something’s happened to me.
When they call so that he can be convinced it hasn’t, I’m at home getting dressed for a concert. It’s my first attempt to see a member of this band since my dismal attempt last January, when a friend decided two days before not to go with me and then we never hung out again, when a man spent the night following me around the club, unable to take no for an answer, until I told him I was going to the bathroom and snuck out the door instead, missing the main act, when I got lost on the drive home and cried stupidly for the whole frustrated evening.
It isn’t until later that I realize I’m wearing the same clothes as that first attempt. I don’t invite anyone to come with me this time. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten used to my aloneness; maybe it’s because I’d rather not talk than talk and not be heard; maybe it’s because I have unlearned the art of letting anyone close. Still, in the pictures of the two nights, both taken before I leave home, the second one seems happier. Even the colors in it are lighter, as if the first woman were fading, something to be winked soon from existence, along with that January and all the bad months to follow, not forgotten, just some new self superimposed over the old.
In the concert venue, there are people on stage and bright lights everywhere, a bass thrum through my chest even in the upper balcony, a throng of people and drinks and laughter. Yet that boy’s voice, over the phone, some combination of worry and love, its tenor familiar, its music that which my own chest makes still for him, makes still for the other?
Even amidst the bass and bright lights and bodies and joy, it’s still the loudest song.