Mixtape #9 – 1995 “The Blue Year”

I found a box of tapes I made in the 80s and 90s. I made this one in 1995 and labeled it “The Blue Year.” Because I didn’t just have a Blue Christmas, I had a whole damn blue year.

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Most of this mixtape is about Lance and how our marriage didn’t last. We loved the Camelot stories and liked to think of ourselves as “Lancelot and Guinevere” (since we were Lance and Jennifer) but they were a tragic couple, and our relationship never went that well, either.

By the fall of 1995, I was sleeping in the other bedroom and preparing to file for divorce. We had nothing and I wanted nothing from him, so no lawyers got involved. I just had to scrape together the money to move out and file papers at the local courthouse.

In a last ditch effort to win me back, I guess, Lance surprised me with tickets to see David Wilcox, one of my favorite musicians. Problem was, he didn’t tell me what was going on when he picked me up “to talk” and when he suddenly started driving out of town, I legit thought he was going to murder me. I panicked so bad, I almost jumped from the moving car and he had to tell me what was up. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic how little I trusted him, at that point.

But, hey, I got to see David Wilcox. I even went backstage and met him, too.

The rest of the mixtape is about a character named Kelzy who I met at a barn dance. I wasn’t looking for anything but there he was, a tall, beautiful, red-headed Texas cowboy with a rodeo belt buckle and a crease ironed into his starched jeans, asking me to dance. If he were an NPC in a video game, you’d exhaust all his dialog prompts and hope for a romance option, believe me.

In California, I’d accepted the fact that only underfed, fashionable women were considered “hot.” When Kelzy approached me, I wasn’t wearing makeup, my hair was in a simple braid, and I was wearing baggy jeans and a t-shirt. I’d put on a little weight  and at 5′ 9″ I was 145 pounds instead of the 125 I’d weighed in college. Oh, the horror.

But he would look at me and smile and say, “You’re… motivating,” as if I’d taken his breath away. It felt good.

We spent a lovely few months together. Like any proper cowboy, he played guitar. We saw Toy Story (1995) together. I took him to Disneyland, where he danced with me under the fairy lights of Main Street. I took him to my friend’s horse ranch, where he kissed me.

Kelzy was absolutely darling, but I had the Dustin problem (see Mixtape #4). I thought he was too good for me. After leaving Lance, I’d started drinking, and one night when Kelzy showed up to take me to dinner, I was drunk and acted stupid all night.

He stopped seeing me after that and I don’t blame him. But I blamed myself for fucking up something really good, and I quit drinking. Still don’t drink, to this day.

“The Dance” is on there for a lot of reasons. There’s a romantic memory of us dancing to this song, and him singing along softly in my ear, but the lyrics also tell the story of our brief time together.

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

And, ultimately, isn’t this true of life? We don’t know where it will take us or what tomorrow will bring. Anytime we take a chance at great happiness, we risk terrible sorrow.

I ran into Kelzy at a used bookstore in 1997. We were both dating other people. He was polite. I was polite. I watched him get into his car and drive away. The shop owner, a scruffy old hippy-looking dude, said I had a look on my face that made him want to know what was going on.

I don’t remember what I told him. Probably, “I used to date that guy.” And that was probably all I needed to say. The wistful sorrow on my face said the rest. There’s a sharp kind of pain in being rejected by someone who is not only someone you love, but someone who makes the world brighter just by being in it.

If I’d heard the song “Creep” (1993) at the time, it would have been on this mixtape, too. Instead, I ended the tape with these:

~ J.L. Hilton

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