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The Song Remembers When

The year was 1993.

The year we lost River Phoenix and Brandon Lee. Michael Jackson performed the Half-time Show at the Superbowl, which was won by the Dallas Cowboys. Coachella was started by Pearl Jam. And Meatloaf's “Anything for Love” was the top-selling song of the year.

It was less than a year after Hurricane Andrew wiped out Homestead in South Florida, destroying 125,000 homes and displacing 250,000 people. A young man, 25-year-old Allen, was one of those people. He relocated to the panhandle of Florida to a little town off I-10 near Destin to help his parents and sister start over after losing everything.

Okaloosa County Florida (in red) up in the Panhandle of Florida.

Okaloosa County Florida (in red) up in the Panhandle of Florida.

This is when I met Allen. We were both starting over, for different reasons, in a strange town far from what used to be home. We had what could be classified as a summer romance, even though it lasted longer than summer, more like 8 or 9 months. We spent lazy days and evening strolls at the beach, long road trips to no where just to be together, and doing all the things young couples in love did back then.

There were no cell phones. Home computers were barely a thing, and most people didn't have one in their home. There was no internet. But there was music. Oh was there music! I remember countless nights driving in my “jeep,” laying in the still-warm sand at the beach watching the stars, or even relaxing at home with the radio on or a cassette tape playing. You guessed it, there weren't even CD's yet.

Destin, Florida sunset overlooking Crab Island.

Destin, Florida sunset overlooking Crab Island.

A couple weeks after we started dating, Allen had to make a trip to Miami to pick up a family friend and bring her to live with the family. I remember dreading his trip, the being apart. You know how young love is, even a day apart seems like a lifetime. I remember feeling sad over not being able to see him or talk to him. He would be gone for several days with no way to reach each other. As mentioned before, no cell phones, and I didn't have a home phone. I felt jealousy over him traveling with another girl. And even a bit of relief to have time to reflect on the new relationship with a clear, un-distracted head.

I had just started a new job. I was a single mother. I wasn't even sure I was ready for a relationship, much less one as emotionally intense as this one was turning out to be. Yes, distance would be a good thing even if I was dreading it.

On the last day of his trip to Miami, I woke to a typical sunny day in Florida. Reaching over I turned on the radio. Laying there in bed with the early morning sun streaming in through the windows I listened to the sultry sounds of "Angel, by Jon Secada." It was the first time I had ever heard the song. And honestly, I don't think I could have picked a more appropriate song for that exact moment if I tried.

During his time away I kept going over our relationship, when we met, how we met, things in common, ways in which we were different, how he made me feel, etc... I was the quiet, introverted, painfully shy girl. You know the one who watched everyone from a distance, head down observing life through lowered eyes. I was the book nerd, the geek, the weird one.

And Allen? He was this boisterous, outgoing, in-your-face, good-looking man who quite frankly intimidated me. He was everything I ever wanted and everything I was terrified to have. To me he was the captain of the football team, the movie star, the bad boy all the other boys wanted to be like and all the girls just wanted. He had street smarts and life experience already beyond anything I would ever have, even at this point in my life. I was terrified of being with him and even more terrified of letting him go.

Oh yeah, I had it bad.

Laying there that particular morning listening to that particular song I realized those words were everything I was feeling, everything I had been feeling since the moment we met. Part of me knew I could never hold onto him. The other part of me knew I had to try. It had only been a mere two weeks, but I was head over heels, hopelessly in love.

Here's where it gets interesting.

A day at the beach.

A day at the beach.

I don't remember if it was the same night he came home or if it was the next day, but we were talking about his trip. In the midst of this he tells me there was a new song he heard on the radio that he wanted me to hear. He heard it while he was driving back and the song summed up what he had been feeling and thinking.

He told me he had been looking forward to the trip to Miami because it would put some distance between us. That everything happened so fast and he needed time to clear his head; to think about what he wanted and how he really felt about me and us. In the end, he told me the song he heard said everything he needed to say.

That song was "Angel, by Jon Secada."

I can't read the future
but I still want to hold you close
Right now, I need that from you
So give, me the morning
sharing another day with you
Is all I want to know
And baby I, I've tried to forget you
But the light of your eyes, still shines,
you shine like an angel
A spirit that won't let me go

I didn't want to tell you
things I didn't wanna know, myself
Was afraid to show
But you gave me a reason
to face the truth
Oh, yes you did
And baby I, I've tried to forget you
But the light of your eyes, still shines,
shines, shines like an angel
A spirit that won't let me go
– Jon Secada*

~Sierra Sugar