A long, long, time ago.....

She'd been singing the blues for a long time. She was not generally a sad person, in spite of the vein of sadness that ran inside her periodically. Not particularly inclined to remorse, nor to regret, she had that scrappy optimism that comes from having had to pick up and start again periodically.

She'd known him 20, 25, 30 years ago. A boy, then a guy, then a young man. Never really as an adult.

When I was a young girl, I had me a cowboy

She had finally tracked him down, not with the intent of stirring up trouble, but only, perhaps, to mend fences and renew aquaintance.

But that was a long time, and no matter how time flies

But sometimes, histories have an odd way of recrossing. Seven degrees of separation. Here be dragons.

So a cascade of history fell out of her memory, to the tune of several songs from high school.

They were young lovers, both still in college, on two different sides of the country. There were a few misunderstandings, but nothing major. He disliked her best friend, and refused to meet her again. He was a republican, she was a democrat. She would get speechless with fury when they talked about politics, but at the time, she was not very good, to say the least, at expressing it. (She suspected that he often did not have a clue what was going on in her mind.) She had never been to a prom, and was very disappointed to miss the opportunity to go one with him.
But the biggest misunderstanding, the beginning of the end, was on a trip to West Virginia, where he said:

"My father thinks we should get engaged, but I don't, so I'm not going to ask you to marry me before you go back out west."

She didn't say anything much at the time. But it troubled her for two reasons - she would have been a lot more secure being engaged, since she still had six months left in school, and he always seemed to have girls all over him. He'd been much more the popular kid in high school than she.

But the second part was more troubling. Why hadn't he consulted her? This, in the clear light of hindsight, was probably the biggest deal breaker of all. He didn't ask her, he told her. Coming from her liberal upbringing, this made her doubt that this was a partnership. He shall be unto her as god is to his church, and she shall be to him as the church is to god.

So she went back west, and finished school, and they broke up, in the most miserable and awful way, and she didn't move back east after all. They lost touch, and she rarely found that she had a case of the might-have-beens, until she managed to get back in touch. 20 years later.

But years later, it becomes a hell of a lot more complicated. She didn't spend much time jonesing over lost loves. Maybe one or two, but it didn't seem like it was worth the trouble, most of the time. She'd spent enough time digging around in unhappy stale emotions to know which ones were productive and which ones weren't.

They still speak the same language. He calls up, leaves a message on her answering machine, and she about falls out of her chair, it is so pee-in-yer-pants funny. They joke about Cats. About violists. About trombone players. They talk in peculiar dialects, which really makes no sense for a yankee and a southern boy who first kissed in seventh grade.

Does she long for him? Probably. Will anything ever come of it? Probably not. All else is fantasy, and that would have to appear elsewhere.

I'm sorry to say that there's no happy ending to the story. She's single, he's married, she chose a path that was non-traditional, to say the least, and tradition is what he's all about.

How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
Come home in the evening
And have nothing to say?
Is this what it all devolves to, then? She broke his heart. He broke her heart. Another node about some girl.

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child that's grown old.

If dreams were thunder
Lightning was desire
This old house would have burned down
A long time ago.

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
of an old rodeo

Just give me one thing
that I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
is just a hard way to go.

When I was a young girl
I had me a cowboy
Weren't much to look at
Just a free ramblin man

But that was a long time
and no matter how I fly
The years just flow by
Like a broken down dam.


There's flies in the kitchen
I can hear them buzzin'
and I ain't done nothin'
since I woke up today.

How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
and come home in the evening
and have nothing to say.

Angel from Montgomery, words and music by John Prine, popularized by Bonnie Raitt and many others.

I choose love.

CST Approved