The first time I heard “Melissa” was on a mix tape from my high school boyfriend.
We snuck away to the Outer Banks in my parents’ Volvo. We were 16 and 17.
We listened to the cassette tape as we drove down a beach road to the water.
We had nothing to do for those two days. We made no plans.
We slept on the beach and in the car.
It was uncomfortable.
We were so in love it didn’t matter.
He taught me things.
He gave me music.
He told me I was funny.
He saw things in me that no one did.
That’s what made him special.
He could see and feel and be hurt.
He was so alive. I was scared to live out loud the way he did. Boys live louder than girls at that age.
I’d never met a 17 yr old boy who had so much longing for beauty. I’d never met anyone who went after feelings and sensations the way he did. He was awake and full of craving and energy and spirit and destruction.
Most of all, he wanted to live.
He almost died when he was 20. Because he was trying to live.
To this day, I have never had a soul connection with another like I did with him.
I was 16, but my relationship with this boy was the beginning of my life.
It was the first time I felt loved.
Understood by anyone.
First loves shape you.
Young love is easy because it happens to you.
When you grow up, love is a decision.
Whenever I hear “Melissa” I think about him and all the good he gave me.
Whenever I hear “Melissa” I smell the beach.
Whenever I hear “Melissa” I feel a breezy melancholy that is the melody of young love.
Whenever I hear “Melissa,” that searing slide guitar spills love and sadness out of me and onto the surface of a memory. Coating it, protecting it so that it stays alive. We keep things in the past so they survive.