This is a story of two days, not one. Yes, I realize I am tampering with my whole concept of “Oh, What a Day,” but humor me.
When my heart is hurting, nay excruciating, I have a thing I do. I get on a plane and I effing leave Lexington, Kentucky for a week. I go to visit some of my favorite people in the world and eat amazing food while telling them my feelings. Then I go back home and stay depressed for a while with a week of amazing ethnic vacation food stored up in my fat supply before I stop eating altogether.
It has happened twice so far.
The most recent time was almost two years ago.
Two of my best friends from college had just moved from Kentucky to California about a month or two before said onset depression. It was a great opportunity to be their first visitor and to get pretty much as far away from my city as I could without leaving the continental U.S.
On the last day of my trip, they had to take their pup to doggy training, so I opted to walk to a nearby Chipotle for dinner on my own. I was already emotionally primed, knowing the next day I would have to fly back to Kentucky and continue to deal with my problems in a place surrounded with bad memories.
And then, while I was walking back from Chipotle, a song came on my Spotify playlist and just completely wrecked me. It perfectly summarized everything I was feeling and caused sudden onset sobbing.
When I looked at my phone, I discovered the song “Hello, My Old Heart” was by the amazing but not super well known music group the Oh Hellos– the favorite band of the person who had broken my heart, thus causing my trip to California. Because of course it was. Of course!
Anyhow, I lost my shit as I listened to this beautifully sad song about trying to keep your heart guarded so it does not break again. It felt extra sad and significant because it was his favorite band. I both missed him and felt lingering pangs of resentment towards him all at once. Feelings are complicated.
I have written about my first heartbreak before, but this one was infinitely worse. It felt like my true rock bottom, and I did not see any way out of it. It was the first time after the first heartbreak that I had finally been brave enough to let my heart feel something again–a calculated risk– and it left me stifled and disappointed and a million other emotions too difficult to articulate on my own. This song gave words to it.
A month or so after the aforementioned day, when I wept for both having let my heart stand unguarded for once and for feeling it was doomed to resort to self-protected lovelessness again, I went on my first date with my now husband. Life.
About four months into dating Sean, Spotify sent me a notification that the Oh Hellos would be performing in Cincinnati, a short hour and a half drive away. Since I pretty much only see bands live if their music makes me feel like I’m in a therapy session (à la Brandi Carlile and Taylor Swift), I had to go.
Sean, despite never having heard of the band, agreed to go with me because I am quote, unquote dainty and therefore should not go alone. But I so would have gone alone, because I do things like that (even if I am dainty).
We went to the concert together and got tacos and margs with my friends beforehand. He drove and he did not complain. He stood with me for three hours in the ultra-loud concert hall, obviously not enjoying the music, without complaining. Going to concerts where you do not know the songs and, therefore, cannot lip sync along to the music is just not fun. It’s just not.
However, he cuddled and swayed with me, and every time I looked up at him, he was smiling.
I waited and waited and waited for the Oh Hellos to sing the beautiful song that spoke to me so clearly on the walk back from the Chipotle in Campbell, California. Despite being their most well-known song, “Hello My Old Heart” did not make the set-list that night.
Your girl was bummed. Really, really bummed.
On the way home, I fell asleep. I fell asleep in the car, on the way home from a concert for a band my new boyfriend had never heard of, while he drove the two hours home in the middle of the night. And he was ok with it.
He was ok with doing things that bored him if it meant I was not alone. He was ok with being at a concert so loud that all the words blended together so he could not understand them if it meant he got to hold my waist and sway with me a little.
I do not know if waking up in that moment was when I realized I loved Sean a little bit or not, but I do know it was when I realized I did not really need to hear “Hello My Old Heart” anymore. Finally, only a couple of months after having my heart smashed and buried, I found someone I did not need to protect my tiny, raw heart from.
It only took 28 years, but the day came. Finally, an honest to goodness good one.
Oh, what a day.