The first time I heard the song “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” it spoke to me, being unbelievably drunk and high at the time probably caused it. Even now when I hear it though the music takes me back, back to those few short months when I was completely free. I miss that time in my life a lot these days.
I was 18 years old, wild and reckless. I would have preferred to be labeled trouble or slut before being called innocent. Life had given me a raw deal and I had sworn off even trying anymore. My life was one long party, months going by that I can’t quite remember through the whiskey soaked haze that I wandered through. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t partake of some recreational drugs. I loved that chaos that was my life, never knowing where or when I might sleep…or who it might be beside.
Lisa and I were inseparable back then and had been for years. If someone saw one of us without the other, people would look at us weird as if we had suddenly lost an appendage. We were best friends through everything and I though we would never be apart. Any life plans we dreamed about included each other. That is something that I can never get back and one of the few regrets that I have in this life.
We didn’t have a whole lot of options when it came to entertainment; being from a small Southern town does have its drawbacks. Go and get drunk, high or laid were our 3 main activities with some shopping on payday. We met boys everywhere, from the gas station to cruising in front of the mall and it wasn’t weird for us to meet someone and sleep over at their house all in the same night. It should have been weird, awful things could have happened but thankfully most of the experiences we had were good.
Back to the song though. It came out when I was 5 and somehow I missed it for 13 years. Probably because it came out when I was 5 so it was off the Top 40 stations by the time I was a music junkie. Back before the internet we actually listened to the local FM station to find new music, if you can imagine that.
I don’t remember exactly how we met Gary. He was older than the crowd we normally ran with, in his early 20’s and he had a job, house and his own car. The car was the best part though, at first. The car, a purple Camaro with a booming system, purple neon lights underneath and black leather seats went so fast we felt like we were flying. . I know it is a stereotypical Southern thing but I love Camaro’s and one that looked like that would never escape my attention. After admiring the car Lisa and I followed Gary back to his place and for the next few weeks it was our home away from home.
Lisa was in love and for the first time in a long time, I actually approved. He really was a great guy and even more important that that, he had a lot of guy friends. I was not in the market for a relationship, having just gotten out of a four year one that had taken over my teenage years. I met a few boys and some men that I felt things for, cared about and would have liked to spend more than a night or two with, but I ran from those guys like they were the devil. Love scared me more than anything else and in some ways I suppose that hasn’t changed much in the least 8 years.
The night I heard Every Rose Has It’s Thorn for the first time we were at Gary’s adopted Dad’s house and we were partying hard. I remember there were a lot of people there, most of their names and faces escape me now although the camaraderie I felt with them burns through me still. Lisa and I had made out for money just to give the boys a thrill. They were young and had never seen two girls kiss like that, and we were beyond broke. It was all harmless fun. As the night wore on and we all wound down, I ended up cuddled up to a cute boy named Steven. He had the prettiest blue eyes and his bad boy grin made me blush. I knew the look he was giving and what it meant. I never even gave a thought to saying no.
We all sat around sipping the last of the whiskey, Steven draining the last few drops from his Goldschlager as we listened to the music, Lisa and I singing along to the songs we knew. . When the first few notes of Every Rose Has It’s Thorn came on everyone stopped what they were doing and paid attention. All of the guys sang along with Bret Micheals and Stephen sang directly to me. Even though the lyrics were about a lost love and Stephen and I were mostly strangers in that moment I loved him with all my heart, we had a connection and bond that felt real, something rare and not to be forgotten.
As we drove to Gary’s house that night, we listened to that song on repeat and held hands like we had something special between us. Later when we were lying in bed together we learned each other’s last names and in the light of dawn the spell woven by song was broken. I saw Stephen a few times after that but we never recaptured the magic that we had the first night. Probably because a few days after that night I found out I was going to be a mother and my whole world changed. There was no longer a place in my life for bad boys and whiskey binges.
I miss my freedom from back then, I miss being able to do whatever I wanted selfishly taking whatever I needed just because it felt good in the moment. Mostly I miss the girl I was, carefree and independent and I wish I had appreciated her more. Knowing it would have all came to an end eventually doesn’t change the nostalgia I feel when I look back. Knowing and feeling are two separate things and sometimes the heart overrides the brain.
William Blake said it well in his poem Auguries Of Innocence:
“To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”
We should appreciate what we have when we have it, instead of looking longingly into the past. Maybe I would be happier if I remember that more.