I wish in advance for a certain someone to forgive me for telling this story.
I don't like to tell this story, because every time I do, I start crying. It's the story of one of the happiest nights of my life. The story of a love that remains these five years later. The memory of a night I will never forget, a night I encapsulated into a song that will forever transport me to that night, no matter where I am or what I'm doing or who I'm with, that song will never, could never, belong to anyone else.
Once upon a time, in the winter of 2003, I met a beautiful and brilliant English teacher. Over the course of about two weeks, we spoke every night, exchanged daily e-mails, and finally, one night, she came to visit me.
We went to karaoke with my friends that night, our first date shared with thirty people, almost none of whom knew what was going on. They didn't know I was bisexual, let alone the fact that the beautiful woman I had invited to join us that night was my girlfriend. Now, usually when I do karaoke, I sing the same five or six songs in heavy rotation. I sing a couple Billy Joel songs, maybe some Norah Jones, and some lady always asks me to sing something awful, usually by Celine Dion. I don't know what possessed me to choose THAT song that night. I'd never sung it karaoke before, but it had always been one of my all-time favorites. It was a big decision. After all, the girl of my dreams was going to hear me. Whatever I chose had to be a good one. It had to be hers. This would normally be something I'd think about weeks in advance, but I didn't have that kind of time. I didn't know she was going to be there until about two hours before she arrived.
Our friends were seated in the back of the bar, I was on stage, and there was just a dance floor between me and this beautiful woman. I had been singing all week and my voice was cracking in places it never should have. But I sang anyway. I sang for her. And as I sung, I looked into those eyes, those beautiful slate blue eyes, beaming at me, the world faded away. I didn't care who noticed that I was singing to a girl. All I cared about was that this woman, this beautiful woman I cared so much about, she was looking at me-me!-the way she was. As far as I was concerned, no one else existed and nothing else mattered.
We danced for a while, not caring we were two girls in a redneck bar, subtly affectionate with one another. Not caring most of my friends were completely in the dark about our relationship. I whispered that I wanted to kiss her, and so I took her hand and we walked to the beach.
We walked for a while, just holding hands and talking about nothing. To this day, if I hear that song, I can close my eyes and see the reflection of the moonlight shining in her eyes, in her hair, on her skin. I can feel her body, soft and lithe, beneath my hands as I encircled her waist, holding her, dancing in the moonlight. I can smell the ocean. I can smell her hair, her perfume, her breath as I smiled and I kissed her. She was my first real kiss. The first person I ever kissed that I genuinely cared about. The first person I ever kissed that I loved in some fashion. I still love her. I always will.
Several weeks later, I went to visit her. We popped in Moulin Rouge (which I had brought for the express purpose that the song, her song, was in it) and proceeded to make out for approximately seven hours. I stopped for about three minutes, so I could hold her in my arms, stroking her beautiful face, kissing her neck, looking into those eyes, and sang to her.
Okay, so I'm a giant cheeseball, but that's just how it was.
Our relationship ended shortly thereafter, due to distance and many other factors, but we remain good friends. We turn to each other for advice, we've even seen each other once in a while, and when I get married, she's going to be one of my bridesmaids.
I told you that story to tell you this story.
There have always been three artists for whom I would do anything to see in concert. Those three artists are Billy Joel, Elton John, and Paul McCartney. In the summer of 2005, my mother, her husband, my brother, and I went to Las Vegas. I spent four days and three nights sitting at the nickel slots, having three or four drinks, and wandering around the city in what I would later term my Happy Place. (The Happy Place has been defined as the stage between tipsy and drunk when you're just happy to be there.)
Unbeknown to me, my mother's husband had purchased tickets for she and I to see Elton John's show at Caesar's Palace, The Red Piano.
He was incredible.
He played Daniel, which had my mother beaming. He played The Bitch is Back, during which I tried to sing along and make sure she didn't hear me cursing, because I don't curse in front of my mother. He played I'm Still Standing, and I tried in vain to control myself as all kinds of phallic objects popping up around the stage.
Elton John announces that he's going to play his last song, and I'm disappointed, if only because he didn't play The Song. Her Song. He talks about how he's been coming to the states for thirty-five years, that his career really began here. He says how much the love and loyalty we the fans have shown through those thirty-five years has meant to him, and he's never forgotten it.
And then he said it. "The word LOVE is spelled out on stage and I want to wish all of you lots of love in all your lives, and this song is for you."
I tried to contain myself. I tried to sing. I couldn't even mouth the lyrics beyond the second line, I was rendered speechless as he played that song, her song, with such passion, I just wept tears of joy as I relived that night over and over again. There are countless layers to why this was so meaningful to me.
First of all, it's fucking Elton John. He could sing me the phonebook as long as the tune is pretty.
It's one of my all-time favorite songs, and now one of my most meaningful songs.
And it belongs to someone who had a lasting impact on me.
But Elton John, the musician, the man, the gay man, understood. He had had first, forbidden love he kept hidden from almost everyone he cared about until much later. He got it. And that's what I took from the song. And I think, on a subconscious level, that's why I knew it was the right song to give to her.
I often wonder if she remembers that night, if she thinks of me, when she hears it.
I hope so.
If she should read this, she has my profound apology for more than likely embarrassing her in front of the whole interwebs. She should know that she is so much of the woman I have always aspired to be. She should also know that I treasure her friendship, and she has the best taste in music of anyone I've ever met. She should always, always remember she's beautiful, and she's still the best kisser I've ever had. :)