Here is the house
Where it all happens
Those tender moments
Under this roof
Body and soul come together
As we come closer together
And as it happens
It happens here
In this house
–Depeche Mode, “Here is the House”
2000 was the best year of my life.
I didn’t know it then. That’s the problem with a moment: you’re too busy living in it, experiencing the magnitude of it, and you have no awareness of an ending. I don’t think we have the capacity to appreciate what we have at the moment. We’re enjoying ourselves, but we often hold back the deepest of our emotions in expectation of something better. My “something better” then was moving to Colorado with my husband.
Still, I think I appreciated then the absent complacency of those days.
2000 started with a bang. We attended a huge party at the Sheraton hotel next to the Falls in Cuyahoga Falls. It was an overnight stay at the hotel with a champagne breakfast in the morning. We had the time of our lives, joking about the world ending at midnight. We held our breaths at the countdown commenced. We didn’t think the world would end, but we did worry about the power outages and panic that were described for the months leading up to the Y2K. The new year came without a glitch.
We went back to the Sheraton’s New Year’s party in 2001, but it wasn’t as fun. Somehow, the food wasn’t quite as good, the party was more sober, the music less jazzy. We even got into a fight that night. Everything felt deflated. Looking back, it was like a harbinger of the tragedy to come.
The summer of 2000, we visited Sarah in Portland. We tried to climb Mt. St. Helen’s, but the depth of the lingering snow above treeline held us back. We all had fun regardless. For once, I didn’t beat myself up over the missed summit. The togetherness was the point. Friendship shared.
That year was filled with an obsession with Survivor and Big Brother. Reality television was new back then and we loved every dramatic moment of it. I guess that’s why the novelty of Survivor wore off for me after the first season. The second season happened after Mike died. The show only brought memories of week nights held in suspense as we sat together on the couch, guessing each player’s strategy and taking stabs at who would be voted off next. It was our time together. I just couldn’t face the show again, nor hear the theme music, after Mike died. There was nothing in it for me anymore.
Memories of cold winter Saturdays spent indoors. We made dinner together and drank wine. Made love right in the middle of the living room in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace. Yeah, I know it’s clique. When your happy, you don’t worry about not being original. Every romantic clique feels like you invented it.
Once a month, we watched The Fifth Element. We had a religious attachment to the movie, quoting lines at each other often. We planned to one day show up at my cousin’s annual Halloween Party as Korbin Dallas and Leelu (the main characters and love interest). We wanted to name our son Korbin.
Walks at Virginia Kendall Park in the Cuyahoga Valley NP. We liked to hike in the winter because no one was around. The only noise was the crunch of our boots on the snow. We shared the silence. We went off the hiking path (since you couldn’t see it).
I was reminded of 2000 yesterday when the radio station I was listening to had one of those “guess the year” clips where they play sound bites of the major events of the year. The clip of Jeff Probst announcing, “…And the winner of the Survivor is Richard!” I remembered that moment, Mike and I apt with anticipation. A wave of memories from 2000 crashed to the forefront of my thoughts. For a moment, I could feel something of the aura of that year, as if a part of me had gone back in time for just a moment. I could almost feel Mike next to me, smiling at the outcome of Survivor.
It’s these kind of moments where you realize that no matter what you do, or how much happiness you find in the wake of sorrow, there’s always something that pulls you back to a distant reverie. I’ll never really “get over” Mike’s death. An out-of-the-blue attack to my senses will always be just around the corner, waiting to remind me of who I am and where I came from.
It didn’t make me sad so much as bittersweet. I welcome the memories while hating them. For just a moment, I recaptured something I lost. Yet, the torture of its momentary reality stings, leaving me throbbing and stunned.