Summer Memories: It Must Have Been Love

Lay a whisper on my pillow,
leave the winter on the ground.
I wake up lonely, there’s air of silence
in the bedroom and all around.
Touch me now, I close my eyes and dream away.
It must have been love but it’s over now.
It must have been good but I lost it somehow.
It must have been love but it’s over now.
From the moment we touched ’til the time had run out.

In the summer of 1990 I found myself on a People-to-People Exchange in what was then termed the Soviet Union. There were a few notable songs to that summer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’ by M.C. Hammer, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinead O’Connor, and ‘It Must Have Been Love’ by Roxette. Only the first (Can’t Touch This) could I relate to in any direct way (and even then it was merely in a superficial, sideways-dancing-in-skidz kind of way). The last two touched on heartbreak that I’d never known before, though I could sense in them a yearning for something, and a longing that would never quite go away. My heart had never been broken like that, but not for lack of trying. How I hoped to connect to someone, to get that close, to have just the chance of such pain – and how little did I know what was in store for me.

I was fourteen years old, surrounded by friends from home, and on a European adventure. At the start of summer, we flew from Washington, DC to Moscow. I was beginning to see the world. I was beginning to find myself. Letting go of a childhood spent mostly, and happily, in relative summer solitude, I felt the reassuring friendship and camaraderie of a group of friends – some of whom have remained in my life to this very day. We traveled by bus, plane, train, and boat – we shared sleeping quarters, questionable food, mildly-amused hosts, and the foreignness of a country on the other side of the world. In experiencing another culture, we looked back at our own, and at each other, with equal parts suspicion, love, disdain, and loyalty.

Make-believing we’re together,
that I’m sheltered by your heart.
But in and outside I’ve turned to water
like a teardrop in your palm.
And it’s a hard winter’s day, I dream away.
It must have been love but it’s over now,
it was all that I wanted, now I’m living without.
It must have been love but it’s over now,
it’s where the water flows, it’s where the wind blows
it’s where the wind blows…

When the trip was over I found myself home alone in the backyard again, watching the hollyhocks and picking off the Japanese beetles in the late morning sun. The doleful sounds of “It Must Have Been Love” played on the radio. As I missed my friends, as I missed those moments we shared, I understood that longing, and my heart, experiencing a first bit of joyful regret, broke just a little.

It’s where the water flows
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