Paul and I met on Valentine’s Day in 1981. Paul had just transferred to Brown; I had transferred there one year before. That evening, my friend Melinda and I went to a Valentine’s party hosted by another transfer student. I don’t remember who was throwing the party, or where their house was, or whether it was cold or snowy that night. All that detail is long gone. What I do remember is walking into a living room, where this cute guy was dancing with my friend Oona. Melinda introduced us (it was Paul), we chatted briefly, then Paul and Oona kept dancing. He seemed quite taken with her. I don’t remember anything about the rest of the party, either.
It’s not much of a story, really, and I probably wouldn’t remember that brief moment at the party had Paul not shown up at Melinda’s birthday party two days later. By then, he had learned from Oona that she was involved with another woman, and was not a romantic option. That night, after everyone else had gone home, Paul and I sat up talking for hours, with Jackson Browne keeping us company on my stereo. That night, thirty three years ago tonight, was when we first started to fall in love.
Since Paul’s death, one Jackson Browne song we listened to that first night together keeps coming back to me. It is beautiful and sad and, ultimately, hopeful. So on this, the first of many anniversaries without him here, I thought I’d share it with you.