Serving as the polar opposite to last night’s post, I’ve known since I started work on this month’s song list that Madonna’s 1995 single “You’ll See” would be today’s song. Based on journals I kept at the time, I was able to determine that November 4, 1995 was the day that Heidi and I met – 20 years ago this year. And if that’s the case, why would I choose a song like “You’ll See” – a song that chronicles moving on from a relationship, standing on one’s own, and knowing you’ll survive and stay live? Well, pardon the pun, but you’ll see. But first, some background information.
I tell the story all the time but I’m not sure I’ve ever told it here. In the fall of 1995, my good friend and Madonna partner-in-crime Jeff was living in Washington, Iowa. When he first moved there, he lived in a small, one bedroom apartment above Daylight Donuts. When the much larger apartment down the hall opened up, he jumped at the chance to move. Having moved in mid-October, he decided to have a housewarming party since he had moved down the hall. As one does.
I was in graduate school at the time, a rather ill-advised endeavor that is perfectly clear with the benefit of hindsight, but it was what everybody thought I should do so, what the hell, I did it. After a summer that saw all my pharmacy school friends and acquaintances leave Iowa City, I was lonelier than ever. It was so lousy and I felt so awful that I refer to it as “the summer of my discontent” when describing my life at that time. By the time the fall semester started up, I was pretty depressed, sure that I would fail and, above all, be alone forever. That didn’t last terribly long as I did make three good friends in the graduate program and we bonded through what ultimately was a trial by fire. On November 3rd, I was up the entire night in the library of the pharmacy building writing up a lab report, finally sliding it under the professor’s door at 5AM. I remember walking home as dawn was breaking and thinking how there was no way on God’s green earth that I could go to Jeff’s party that night. I nearly called to say “maybe next time” but I had promised a friend of ours that I would ride down with her to Jeff’s, as she was not entirely sure how to get there. So I grabbed some sleep and woke up mid-afternoon, leaving for Jeff’s around 5pm.
Meanwhile, Heidi had been living in her mom’s basement since graduating from college that spring. She was prepping to go to graduate school, having taken a year off to pay down some debt and weigh her options. She worked for a law office in Iowa City and I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that she felt just about as miserable as I did. Heidi’s mother and Jeff taught in the same small Iowa school district and he had invited her to his party. Wanting to get her oldest daughter out of the basement and around young adults her own age, she told Heidi that she was going to go as well. She didn’t want to go, figuring it would be full of teachers talking about education while she stood by herself with nothing to add to the conversation. But she relented and said to her mother that if she was bored, she was leaving.
I still remember when she showed up to the party. I was pretty much instantly taken by her. She was so pretty, so confident, and oh-so-smart. I vividly remember thinking to myself “it would be pretty awesome if she were my girlfriend, but I’m sure she wouldn’t be interested in a guy like me.” The funny part is that she was thinking pretty much the same thing. We sat and talked. And talked. And talked. And talked some more. Her mom got up to leave and Heidi tried to leave with her and she said “don’t you even worry about it. I’ll just walk.” I had never had such an instant rapport with someone, someone with whom I was pretty much instantly at ease without a single lull in the conversation. To hear Jeff tell the story, everyone was leaving and he and the friend I had arrived with were cleaning up and doing dishes and Heidi and I were still talking.
Eventually, it was time for her to leave and I will never forget her parting words. “Well, I’m in Iowa City every day if anyone wants to do lunch!” Not one minute after the door shut and she was gone, Jeff turned to me and said “Well, Dan, you’re the only one of the three of us that lives in Iowa City.” With much prodding from Jeff to overcome my anxiety and belief that no girl could possibly ever like me, I ended up calling her at the law office nearly 3 weeks later. To my great relief, she remembered me and she agreed to go out with me. We had our first lunch date on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 1995. And that, kids, is how it started.
But the reason “You’ll See” is today’s song is because a few days before Jeff’s party, the video for “You’ll See” had premiered on MTV and naturally, Jeff and I were obsessed with it. It was the first time we heard Madonna’s new and improved Evita voice – and it did impress us much. The video was a sequel to her award-winning “Take A Bow” video, consisting of primarily new footage with some of the stuff that hit the cutting room floor for “Take A Bow.” Clearly, the moral of the song is “don’t get involved with a matador.”
Anyway, “You’ll See” has the dubious distinction of being the first Madonna song Heidi and I listened to together because Jeff and I subjected her to a viewing of the video THE VERY FIRST NIGHT WE MET. Why she didn’t run for the hills, I’ll never know. But I’m sure glad she didn’t. Since then, she’s experienced so many Madonna moments with me, enduring most of them but enjoying some of them (case in point: the viewing of the Sex book in French.)
So that’s the story of how we met at a party that neither of us wanted to go to and both of us almost skipped. Just think how different the world would look today if that had come to pass. Of course, Madonna figured into the story somehow.
And those three good friends I made in graduate school? They were ushers at our wedding.
Love you honey. I’m glad to have known you for 20 years. Without you, I would be mostly surviving and staying alive instead of living.