In 1993, when I was living on Bath Street in Santa Barbara, I used to grab my notebook and pen and a couple CDs and walk on up to The Green Dragon on the corner of Mission and State and wax romantic on a plush easy chair in the corner. It was a coffee house, converted from an old church, but instead of a depressing crucifix and rolling-eyed Jesus at the far end, they installed a huge sculpture of a coiling dragon. Now, that was my kind of place. I went there to worship often.
I was seeing someone at the time. It wasn’t quite working out. But I’m a die hard romantic, so one of my favorite things to do was to go listen to sad music and get sad and dwell on my romantic misfortune. On one particular day, I was scribbling in my notebook and listening to R.E.M.’s new album, Automatic for the People. And when this song came on, I zeroes in on one line:
I will try not to burden you
I can hold these inside
I will hold my breath
Until all these shivers subside
Ever since then, it’s been the epitome of what it’s like for me to fall in love. Or lose it before it ever really began.