Friends and heartthrobs of the past, future, and present: where I am now, the temperature has begun its slow climb, and summer is preparing its eviction notice for all the gentle breezes and drives with windows down and the incessant joyful choir of birds. We will soon have to settle for less pleasing aesthetics of romance. Sweat becomes romantic because it will happen whether or not I want it to, and I’ve got to make the best of it. During summer in Ohio, the storms come briefly, but violently, and seemingly out of nowhere. The sun will be out as you make your way to the car, but by the time you arrive at your destination, you’re trapped in a parking lot with torrents of rainwater collapsing on your windshield. I think I would like to call this moment romantic, too, for all the times I’ve sat outside of a grocery store, or a bar, or an ice cream shop, turning up a song that reminded me of someone in hopes that the music and the memory might intersect and silence the downpour.
It is a privilege to have seasons. Sometimes, in Columbus, Ohio, we don’t get much of spring. Winter digs its claws in and then it’s suddenly eighty-five degrees with suffocating humidity. The planet, of course, may not afford me many more years like this one. One where I’ve been blessed with a distinct turning over from one season to the next. I like it this way, being gently shepherded through, as opposed to dropped in the middle of a landscape already in progress. It is hard to create longing without the reminder of what we’re longing for.
Speaking of longing, I am here to once again consider the moment in the pre-chorus of “How Will I Know,” which creeps underneath the song’s ecstatic and bombastic uncertainty. Whether intended in the original message or not, this was the first song that most clearly articulated the anatomy and anxiety and secret pleasures of a crush. While Whitney drags out the words of the song’s central question as only Whitney can, the backup vocals trickle in with “don’t trust your feelings,” which is the moment that feels the most true to the real-life conundrum. A person, shaky, but fantasizing toward confidence while, underneath, their friends try to whisper them back to reality.