It hits me like a flash of ice down my shirt, every time I hear that first lick of the banjo.

I’m back in college, in a packed auditorium come to life with flickering Bics, roommates and friends soaking in the realization that they’re not the only one who knows the lyrics. The overhead shot on screen pans deeper into the swamp, the frog comes into focus, the room swells with lovers and dreamers lifting their voices in unison; and I’m taken by surprise as he slides in to the seat next to me.

He’s here.

I never sleep when he’s with me; I lie awake in the dark, memorizing his body with my hands. In a noisy crowd, he stares at me with those dark mischievous eyes, like a bomb could go off behind him and he wouldn’t notice. My favorite shirts have holes in them, from his teeth. I sometimes beg him to speak to me in any foreign language he knows, just to feel the shudder inside me at the sound of his voice. He says he is frightened by our relationship; but l’m older, and more inclined to embrace the power of a good storm.

As a fat man in a rowboat sparks an impossible dream, he leans in closer to me, grinning. I am glowing; every cell in my body so turgid with anticipation I can feel rushing, tingling, cascading through my veins. We escape the crowded theater, our invincible young bodies racing together across the lawn into the crisp October night, chasing the dizzying hormonal overload that feels so much like love, until we fall to the ground, clinging tightly to each other so we don’t fly away.