I began counting on fingers and toes the number of people who might question me if I legally changed my name to Phoebe.
Oh, it’s just the writer in her, some might say. That’s a cute little phase. Let her frolic in the nostalgia of old Friends episodes for a while longer. But I hold high hopes that eventually someone would clue in and say it, Are you the one he wrote the song about?
I’ll just smile. And nod.
Well, you all guessed it before I even wrote it: I am not Phoebe. Sadly, I will not ever be Phoebe. But I did watch a man sit down on a stool, pick up a guitar, and proceed to make every woman in the cramped cafe wish she were the Phoebe he sang about. I knew instantly, as patches of goosebumps took up residence all over my knees and shoulders, that one of the loveliest feelings must be waking up to find yourself Phoebe.
He sang about Phoebe as if she were some kind of Life Support. Electricity after a power outage. The discovery of a hair elastic when its needed most. The fire hydrant bursting open; kids in tank tops and frilly bikinis running through on a too hot morning in July. Green Grass after a too long winter.
I thought of how it might feel to be the girl who drove this man to pick up a guitar and sing. How it might feel to be the girl who made this man breathe life into a melody all because of her morning mannerisms at the coffee machine. How it might feel to be Phoebe.
I think we all cannot help but want this from time to time, to be the reason behind another’s smile after stumbling upon a missed call. To believe that someone somewhere wants to know what it is like in New York City before they proceed to tell us that Times Squares and its Ten Thousand Marquees does not even begin to light a skyline the way our smile can light a room.
But I suppose this is no reason to ask for a name change or wish for a different life with a better romance to sink our toes into like sand gushing through the hour glass. It wouldn’t make us Phoebe, after all. Or Delilah.
The funny thing is that we hold this quirky habit of glorifying the stories of others, love ballads or none, before we ever even try to hold up our own stories to the light. We waste time wrapped up in the way someone else leads their life while dually picking apart our own lifestyles because they have not unfolded perfectly and we did not fall in love as quickly as we had hoped.
When will we wake up to see that we were all destined for Different? Different Best Friends. Different First Kisses. Different Moments Of Clarity.
And let’s face it, not every one of us inclined someone to brew a love ballad today over their morning coffee so it is better that we just begin brewing our own. That we set out to learn the words of our own love songs and then sing them back to ourselves as we fall asleep at night. Cradling Dreams & Visions & Hopes in Queen-Sized Beds. And then, then, if we meet someone special we can say from the start, I know the song of my heart very well but I’d adore taking the time to sing it to you so that you can know all the words as well.
And, so as not to leave Phoebe left stranded in the beginning of all this, I’ll admit that I only needed to watch a few heads turning to see that Phoebe was not in the audience. Not Front & Center. Not off to the side humming along. I learned from the last of his verses that Phoebe was actually a girl who needed verbs like “leaving” and “going” more than she ever needed “staying.”
Phoebe was a beautiful song to this man but a song that would never morph into the crown of the head he so desperately wanted to rest his chin upon.
And perhaps Phoebe does not even know that this man takes up spaces in divey cafes to sing about the way the door sounded when she closed it behind her. How it never swung the same way again. And maybe, just maybe, Phoebe only wanted to be a star, easily forgotten beside the other masses of energy in the sky; not a Planet and certainly not a Sun. Not someone who kept another’s world spinning. Rotating. Orbiting. Revolving.
Perhaps Phoebe does not even know the world she shook. The heart she shattered. And maybe she is smarter than all of us, for life is far too complicated to stop and connect constellations among all the souls we’ve ever met while we are still knee deep in connecting on a daily basis and learning the words to the love songs of others. Better we keep on moving. Keep on living. Keep on going while songs about Phoebe & Delilah get written into each new day.