Today’s prompt: What is your theme song?
I was working far more than full-time, going to school nearly full-time, lived in a shitty apartment in a shitty neighborhood, just starting to date following the dissolution of my starter marriage, and going out to lunch as often as possible with a coworker named Jenny.
Jenny was just enough older than me. She owned a house, she’d had a number of jobs before this one, her world seemed adult and together in comparison to my college dorm style. She was just enough more creative than me. She sketched pictures and left them on post-its on my desk and we talked about her art like that was her real job and our office where we filed things next to each other was her hobby on the side. She was just enough wilder than me. I would pull up a chair and we’d write unsolicited ad copy together, culminating in a radio ad we even read together which got complaints for being too sexually suggestive. She wore jeans to work because she’d left her last job for this one because it was more casual. I had never had a job where jeans were not allowed. I visited her house and was like a tourist in the city, always staring up and up and up. She lived in an old church. Her ceiling seemed so much higher than mine in many ways.
She wrote the rough draft of my online dating profile and I kept the bones of it for a decade. It was impossibly short and made me sound like the most interesting person on the internet and everybody in my life today that entered it via that profile still regularly quotes to me the line that they found most intriguing or most absurd. But Jenny didn’t want me to meet a guy online anyway.
She brought me CDs to rip to my work computer every week or so, often older discs from the College Music Journal and then I subscribed to CMJ so I could try to talk to her about it every time a new issue arrived. She brought me CAKE and made me play “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” over and over and she told me that THAT was the girl I wanted to be and THAT was the guy I wanted to meet, accidentally, when I borrowed his pen. He wasn’t online, he was at the bank, or the park listening to jazz on Thursday nights, or at the guitar shop standing next to me while I visited my Stratacoustic nineteen times before I finally bought it, or in the pool hall where we drank and vamped for our cameras and were so unapproachably fiercely amazing together there was no way a guy was ever going to work up the nerve to talk to me.
I got myself into another longterm relationship and Jenny got herself into roller derby. She had a baby and I had another breakup and we had a falling out and a reconciliation and she moved to Texas and had another baby and moved back and I had a baby and she illustrated a book and had a gallery show and we joined a writing community together and now we tell our stories. And when this assignment was posted, I wondered briefly if she’d pick this song as her own theme song, because it’s always been this meld of us in my mind. Who she always was and who I aspired to be when I was 23, and now that I’m just enough older and just enough more creative and just enough more wild, I know she shares some credit.