Hey There, Delilah
You know when they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Then whenever several words are all placed together in a melody, and we call that a song, that to me is worth a full feature movie.
I live in 2021 now. Duh, Karol. That’s easy, and obvious. But when I woke up this morning, and played this playlist Mr. BFF and I made together, I was suddenly transported to 2017. And let me tell you, it was one hell of a ride.
When my mornings are slow and easy, I like to start them with music, and today of all days, a rainy Saturday with a puppy in bed with me, I decided to listen to the latest on whatever Mr. BFF and I had been adding to that list.
And then this song plays. And I jump in my bed, puppy in hand, like I was hit by a truck. It was “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s.
I didn’t add the song to our list, he did. He didn’t know. There was no way for him to know that that song has brought the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life in New York that started waaaaay back in 2017.
A long-distance hymn from the mid 2000s, the song tells the story of a boy and this girl, who lived a thousand miles away from him in New York City, who also had two more years in school before she could come back. So the boy wrote this song about her. He wrote this song for her. For the days she’d miss him and they couldn’t be together because of distance. And I can tell ya, a thousand miles can seem pretty far sometimes.
Did you know the distance between Deerfield Beach, FL and New York, NY is actually one thousand miles? I do. And I have known that for a very long time.
It was summer 2017 and I was a fresh face in the streets of my (then) favorite city in the world. Summer was summering, sun was shining and it was about one week before Mr. BFF was supposed to visit me for the weekend, plane ticket ready and all. Life was great. I still remember posting a story about this song on my Instagram, along with a picture of my favorite golden print of the famous “Times Square can’t shine as bright as you” line that sat right on top of my dresser in my brand new apartment, across the room from my wall of pictures of all the people I loved, Mr. BFF taking the VIP spot right over the side of the bed where I slept every night.
This was the first memory that came into my mind when I listened to this song today. Now let me tell you about the second.
The second memory, of probably the last time I listened to this song, happened in the winter of 2017 to 2018. I can’t tell you exactly when. It was all a blur back then.
Anyways, it was a cold winter night in NYC, and I was in this little Asian market on 32nd Street, wearing black sweatpants and three layers of clothes underneath my huge winter jacket. I felt like all the energy had been drained from my body and the 5-minute walk to this market was pretty much all I could do on days like that. It was a time where the VIP spot on my picture wall had become empty. Mr. BFF never made it to New York that summer weekend, or any other weekend, for that matter. All that was left was a golden print of a song that made me really fucking sad, yet I still loved. It’s a funny thing when you love things that make you feel blue.
As I browsed through the narrow aisles filled with delicious Asian cuisine, the song started playing through the speakers in the ceiling and I remember looking up — towards the ceiling, or God, or whatever “up” meant to me back then — and asking “why?”
The thing about memories that come back swiftly is that you can’t really prepare for the feelings they’ll bring with them. Happiness, joy, sadness, disappointment.
So for three years now I’ve avoided listening to the song. Because I didn’t really feel like being hit by the truck that was re-living some of these memories. For three years I avoided anything that could hurt again.
But it’s not 2017 anymore. It’s 2021. So today I let the song play. Twice. I even let fucking Mr. BFF himself sing it to me because once I told him about it he couldn’t stop himself. And you know what? It slowly started to feel pretty great again. I remember why I loved the song so much. And all the bad feelings and memories will just slowly fade away with time, I’m sure.
Did you know the distance between Boynton Beach, FL and Munich, Germany is actually FIVE TIMES one thousand miles? I do. And I have known that for a while now. But you know what? I’ll take these 5,000 miles anytime now. I’d drive them if I could. Because at the end of the day, right now, all that remains are the beautiful and awesome memories of the same boy — different distance — who now makes 5,000 miles feel like 5. And 2021 is already way better than 2017 ever was.
P.S.: I should probably find a better name than Mr. BFF at this point huh? What do y’all think?