Music is one of the most powerful memory triggers. When you chase musicians, the way I do, that’s even more true.
Even though more than a decade has passed whenever I hear that one song, on the radio or anywhere out in the world, I am back in that basement, leaning against a pool table, watching him dominate his sleek, black lacquered guitar.
Cameron was everything that I was attracted to.* Five and a half feet tall, on a good day, thin but fit… He wore his hair short and clean cut but roughed up and spiked on top. He and his friends spent all of their free time skateboarding around our university campus and even though I never would have said it to any of them at the time, he was easily the best out of all of them (read also: spent the most time on his feet and landed most of his tricks). And he played that guitar like he deserved to be paid for it.
I had just gotten out of a meeting in the upper level of the same building and was headed to the café in the basement when I heard the guitar of one of my favorite songs. I followed the sound to find him, jamming on his guitar, seemingly unaware that anyone else was around. He was supposed to be working but had clearly decided that that particular Tuesday evening was a good time to get paid to practice a couple songs before the rest of the band showed up. They used the basement space where he worked for rehearsals after he closed it down.
I forgot all about the dinner I had been looking for.
I leaned against one of the dozen pool tables and watched. I watched the way his small frame danced around. The way the sleek finish of the guitar reflected the lights in the room and fit so comfortably against him. The way his thin fingers expertly moved across the fret board.
Emily had joined me and when he finished the song, we applauded.
From that day on, even now, I can still see him in that basement, surrounded by pool tables and arcade games.
Years later, he told me he had always known how I felt about him. Sometimes I wonder if that was the moment when he figured it out.
* Truth be told, his type, or the type that he was back then, still kind of makes me weak.