May 13, 2019
It started with a terrible crush I had on a drummer. “Alex” was living in Alaska for the summer, spending some time with relatives when we met. He was a successful musician in New York, a small town boy who’d done well for himself in the big world, and a devout Christian. He sat in at clubs around town where I was singing and we ended up attending the same church for a while. He was sweet and very hip, an excellent drummer, and I liked him immediately.
I was young and had virtually no experience with romantic relationships, so I pined away silently for him as we hung out, just friends and fellow musicians.
One night I will never forget, we were sitting in a coffee shop late in the evening on an Alaskan summer night with the sun still high in the sky when we fell into deep conversation. I was trying to express what I wanted - out of life, out of our friendship, many things - and I was fumbling awkwardly. After listening patiently to me a long while, his summary of my thought was piercing. “You want to be known,” he said simply. It was the emphasis on the last word that nearly crushed my heart.
I was ashamed by my own need, and I could not deny that he was exactly right.
Just then, almost in response to the embarrassment I felt in being exposed so flatly, we noticed a very unusual cloud approaching. It was black and ominous and beginning to blot out the Alaskan evening sun. We sat, speechless, watching it unfold, growling and low, ready to engulf the whole world. Slowly, we realized, a volcano across the inlet had erupted and this was an ash cloud. By the time we got to my car, we had to cover our mouths; ash was filling the air - something like tiny, bitter shards of glass.