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It's Nelly's World

Once in a Blue Moon

alec vanderboom

Certain passions, I now realize, are an inextricable part of the time of life in which they occur, although they feel solely like a part of us. But then we move on. They are forgotten, like the toys of yesteryear. On occasion we pull out a long-gone memory and marvel that we once thought some brightly colored bit of plastic was all that we lived for.

A little boy once loved trains with all his heart. He saw only them; he built and drew and heard them in his dreams. It seemed as if it would go on forever, this love. And then, they were gone. Supplanted by swords.

Perhaps one day in the future, he will dally with trains again for a time. It will be a way for him to remember with surprise who he once was, and to locate that internal file cabinet in which are stored the old albums of ephemera that chronicle a passion that helped make him who he is: a lover of swords who will soon lay them aside too, in favor of girls, photography, or some new interest not yet devised by technology.

The recovery of a passion thought abandoned forever is an interesting personal occurrence. It reappears at once paler than it was--nothing ever exceeds in brilliant tones one's First Time--and richer, containing both the amazements of rebirth and the ghost impressions of prior life: Now I remember how that felt! Now I recall that taste! I can both recall and hardly believe it was so long ago, and so big . . . Such is motorcycling to me now, a perpetual surprise.

And such was last night, dancing like crazy at a party. The sound system, the dual turntables playing tech house, was impossible to refuse. I did not care that I was probably too old--and too full of champagne--to move at this sinuous and rapid rate. But I suddenly remembered what it was like to do so, the hours after hours in clubs under colored lights where the bass thumped through the floor and into the bones, pulling me straight out of myself and into a synesthesia of sound, sweat, and air. I would be alone in a well of music, within a dense landscape of people, both separate from and one with them all.

On New Year's Eve, bits of green light climbed the walls of the dance room, broken and reconfigured endlessly by the disco ball suspended there by the hosts. People wandered in and out, children ran in and pogoed violently for a time then left, but I could not leave. The music, and the memory of what this had felt like long ago, now reanimated my cells, closed around me. I danced. I was thirty again. My body was new. I closed my eyes and I danced. The passion was back. (So too was the knowledge recollected a bit late that wearing cotton--not microfiber and spandex, for crying out loud--is advisable for a night of dancing: soon comes the memory of the imperative need to step outside in the cold, flinging forward the hair that clings to the damp neck, head hanging down, uncaring of who might pass by and witness this strange scene. It was necessary in order to be able to go back inside and get carried away again.)

The DJ worked the turntables, and on I went. Embraced by memory and pure experience of the moment.

Then, suddenly, it was time for a new year. For the future of new passions. I walked out from the room where I had briefly visited with my old self. I walked out toward the waiting friends, the match poised to light the fuse of the fireworks, the glass of sparkling wine sending its bubbles ever upward to the present. I walked out into the night of a blue moon, rarest of all.