My first memory of Don Henley’s video for “Boys of Summer” was that I almost always turned the channel when it used to come on MTV. I had seen it in its entirely and it was a series of pictures that I didn’t understand. I didn’t get why a young couple running on a beach in the summertime was in any way engaging, especially for four minutes. In fact it was downright boring to me.
It would be close to 15 years before I bought Henley’s “Building the Perfect Beast” (because I dug the album’s other single, “All She Wants to Do is Dance”. But when I did I kept running into “Boys of Summer”. It’s tale of a love come and gone and all that you need to put behind you once you’re well into manhood, once you have a few grays and have taken it on the chin in love enough to know that you can’t always have what you want. And when you do get it you can’t always keep it.
I remember once, standing in a kitchen in the dead heat of a Brooklyn summer, making my Express Paella while she made gumbo and rice and beans at the same time in nothing but panties and her T-shirt. I was young enough to believe that such snapshots overruled the tornado coming toward us, one which made the sweetness brief and bred anger and resentment for many years.
She has a child now, and a spouse somewhere else. We remember ‘us’ fondly but we know that we can never be back there again.
Coming out of Target yesterday, a very different man than I was back then, I heard Henley’s opus playing through the mall speakers. I understand it now, as I seem to be on a road where the loss comes before all the happiness. When you’re stripped down to basics it’s your memories that matter most.
“I thought I knew what love was/what did I know?” Henley sings.
Those words haunt me today, as it feels like I fell through some wormhole and woke up in some other version of my life where all the devil have turned to angels and where all my heroes are just people ruled more by faults and fears than anything else. The truth is that the only thing that’s changed it the way I see it. I love regardless of facts and disagreements. I know that roads intersect and then go apart. I can’t have my summers of yesterday. I can’t live in them forever because they’re just seasons. And seasons always change.