The Madonna Timeline: Song #20 – ‘To Have and Not to Hold’ – Earliest Spring 1998

{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

To have, and not to hold,
So hot, yet so cold,
My heart is in your hand,
And yet you never stand close enough for me to have my way…

The thawing of that cruel and bitterly cold winter of 1998. The remnants of my Rochester ruins. The frozen wharf of a lonely Boston night. Biting winds, and the slow, gradual rebirth of the earth after the soul-rending slumber, a snow-covered sleep.

A masquerade party at the condo – the celebratory act of getting-over-it – and the lingering pangs of hurt, the sorry aftermath and sad spilled drinks of forgotten guests. A crumpled costume, all wrinkled wreckage – such fabulous flotsam and jetsam, glittering and gay in the night, sorrowful and woe-ridden in the morning.

To look, but not to keep,
To laugh – not to weep,
Your eyes, they go right through,
And yet you never do anything to make me want to stay…

The elusive, seductive pull of being told the object of your affection does not adore you back. Whispered longings, secrets never said, the killing ticking of a clock in the middle of the night, when no one is around, when the rest of the world has gone to sleep with its lovers, when the silence is crushing, and the loneliness all that is embraceable. Long gray slivers of moonlight across the floor, and a flickering candle beyond the door.

Like a moth to the flame,
Only I am to blame…
What can I do?
I go straight to you…
I’ve been told,
You’re to have not to hold…

You walk alone in the night, beneath the burgeoning buds of cherry trees, into the most romantic time of the year. You sleep alone in the dark, unafraid because you have no choice, and still you want, you yearn, you hope. There is so much to be shared.

To look, but not to see,
To kiss, but never be the object of your desire,
I’m walking on a wire and there’s no one at all to break my fall…

And then you think you find someone, and they stay with you for a while, the breeze blowing through the curtains in the night, and everything might be okay for a while, but things are strange, and the night turns cold, and you realize in your heart of hearts that it is only for a while.

Don’t break my heart…
Only I am to blame… 

Song #20: ‘To Have and Not to Hold’ – Earliest Spring 1998
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