…there was magic in my life. Or at least, there was a sense, a feeling, something so hard to describe that it might as well be called magic. Even now, I find it difficult to put into words. Often, the best I can manage is to turn to one of a select group of friends and say “You know, you were there” (and oh, how that group has dwindled over the years). Alternately, if the lyrics of My Friend The Chocolate Cake’s “A Midlife’s Tale” resonate with you, well, I don’t think a further explanation is needed.
It was a combination of things, really. A part of it was that I was in love at the time (and I mean madly, passionately in love), but that’s far, far from all of it, for the feeling only started to leave then – it didn’t die with that relationship. Part of it was youth, part of it was adventure, part of it was the sense of almost limitless possibility. And part of it, possibly the biggest part, it now seems to me, was the sense of meaning. It was a time when, to paraphrase Papa Hemingway, “this was a good world, and worth fighting for.”
Without that, it sometimes feels like I am simply going through the motions of a life, not living one. So I suppose it’s fair to say that it’s the life I had that I miss, or at least, aspects of it. I do not believe that it’s the love I had that I miss; I feel that I’ve made my peace with that, however unsatisfactory a peace I may at times find it. (The friends I mentioned above may disagree, but that is how I see it.)
In fact, I don’t actually remember that much of that relationship, ironically. Intense emotion makes it difficult to form memories, and frankly, I’ve had lengthy hallucinations I can recall in greater detail than I can those months. And while I’m aware that a goodly part of the magic I now miss was simply due to that intensity of emotion, I know that that wasn’t all of it.
I wish I had it back, I truly do. Even now, twenty or so years later. And I don’t think of it as gone or lost so much as misplaced. Every so often, I touch it again, for an hour or two if I’m lucky, and I know that it’s there. That there’s still a path to the centre of the labyrinth, could I but find it again.
And I guess the reason I’m telling you this is that, as of last night, I am back on the hunt for it.