You have gotten much thinner
You’re lookin’ like a shadow
It’s from dwelling on the might-have-beens
Living in a time-warp
To whom am I speaking? Some ghost from the past?
While you think about old glories
You’re fading real fast
— “Memory Lane,” Daniel Amos (Doppelgänger, 1983)
I’ve fallen down that rabbit hole called Memory Lane tonight. To be more honest, though, I didn’t really fall in here, as though I had no control over things. No, I jumped in with both feet — and now I can’t seem to find my way out.
It started with a woman, but that’s not really unusual, because these trips frequently start with a woman. They start with a faint memory that turns into a burning need to relive something warm and delightful.
And from there, I slide into the warmth and security of love.
Of being loved. Of losing love.
And then to the quagmire of what might have been — the bittersweet longing that’s equal parts hope and love and despair and emptiness.
I’d been thinking about a particular picture of her all day. I don’t know why, but something in me needed to see it again, like a moth drawn to the flame that might destroy him.
It was her eyes that I needed to see.
As strange as it might sound, I see everything about some people in their eyes. I don’t remember anything specific about most people’s eyes. They’re just blanks. But every now and then, there’s someone whose eyes are like the proverbial windows to the soul — and I feel as though I can get lost in that person’s heart and mind just by diving into her essence through what I see there.
I’m not even talking about beauty. Yes, I love beauty. Yes, I love beautiful eyes, too, but this is something deeper. I don’t know what it is, exactly.
I just know that when I see this particular thing, I’m seeing someone who has something I need. It’s like a life force. An energy. It’s powerful reserves of something inside of a person which is hidden.
When I experience that, I know what I’ll find inside. I see people as something like houses. The more shallow or simplistic someone is, the smaller the inner house I see. The more complicated someone is — the deeper the well goes, the more deep emotions are hidden — the bigger this metaphorical house is in that person. And when I see this particular look, I know this is a solitary soul that’s lost and wandering a huge mansion inside — one with vast rooms and creaky stairways and half-explored wings.
When I see whatever this is, I know there is a lonely heart wandering those rooms like a ghost who’s lost its way. When I see this in a woman’s eyes, I want to come walk with her — to explore the rooms she’s afraid to explore and to share what she’s afraid to see.
How many times have I really experienced this? At least twice. Maybe three times.
And so I went through my photos from the past and found the one I had in mind. Like a strong magnet, those eyes pulled me inside — but the truth is that I went willingly — and now I’m inside that metaphorical mansion agonizing over what could have been. Over what should have been.
The song which I quoted above has another line verse which says:
You take another trip down memory lane
You go down there once too often
and you’re likely to remain
And so here I am again. Stuck in my memories of love which I lost. I’m not sure what it means to say that love is lost, though.
If love is real, it doesn’t die. It might be repressed. It might be ignored because it’s not convenient. But real love doesn’t die. Its counterfeit dies quickly. I’m sure of that. But I’m also sure that the real thing doesn’t die.
If you have a huge house — in that emotional, psychological sense — it’s easy to shove it into an unused room. It’s easy — for some people, anyway — to hide it and nail the door shut. But like Poe’s telltale heart, it’s still in there behind wherever you barricaded it.
The heart beats. You even hear it sometimes. It hurts to know it’s still there. But the rhythmic beating of that heart won’t go away.
Some people would say I’m just a romantic or a dreamer. They would say what we call love is just a passing crush which fades quickly and is soon forgotten. But I know better. I know real love doesn’t die, even when it’s no longer convenient for someone.
I’m lost in this lonely and dark and unexplored mansion tonight. It’s my metaphorical map of her heart and mind and soul. I know about places in her that I don’t think she knows about. I know about places in here which I think would scare her.
More than anything, I think she’s scared of the deep and dark place where she tried to bury her love for me. But she’s good at wearing her mask — being what everyone needs to see — and feeling that buried love is her hidden shame.
And so I’m lost in here tonight, desperately wanting to find her in this place of emotional mystery and hidden love. She doesn’t know I’m here — has no way to ever know — but I’m walking all alone in my memories of her, dreadfully afraid she will never return to that scary locked room — leaving me to wander here lost and alone on my painful trips to Memory Lane.