What is a first date, anyway? Maybe it's an awkward kiss in an alarmingly-sticky diner booth. Maybe it's a very well-timed kiss along the sunlit shores of the Mississippi. Maybe it's quiet and interior, an inside joke shared over red wine. Maybe it's more daring, leaning in close against the Minnesota snow. Maybe it's a quick realization that we have something else incredibly important to do, like anything else, right this minute. Maybe it's just out of reach. Maybe it's a slow realization that what we truly want is a next time.
First dates have a way of circling back on themselves. They seem form-shaping and labyrinthine. They mark a beginning and an ending, both at once, like the passing of summer into autumn. And by holding these memories out in front of us, oak leaves at arm's length, we can examine the winding veins of what brought us here—and where we want to go.
"Maybe Next Time" washes over you almost like a lyric poem: soft edges, cinematic heights, a crescendo of specific and intimate sensations, like a whispered conversation, or the cassette-like clack of bicycle spokes. Grounded by these familiarities, we are also borne away to more abstract, secluded parts of the world. We stand among forests and dunes, trying to figure out the puzzle before us, trying to examine the illusion of how we see ourselves, and how another person might see us through the thicket. We are elevated by a soundscape of nerves, excitement, and sorrow.
Sometimes a first date can feel like a last chance, but not for lack of trying. All the "would've been good to knows" mingle in our heads, a cacophony of intertwining voices and roads to some faraway land. The probing of our character weighs heavily on us, even as we try to embrace something new.
Occasionally we'll reach a clearing in the trees, and the drumming inside of us fades. Sometimes we get like this: we realize that the repetition and the spiraling and the dead ends dissipate when we meet someone for the first time. For a second time. For a third time. We can linger in these melodies, meander in gentle and breathless meadows.
In a way, we are collections of the people we love, have loved, will love. We are the pain we feel when disconnected from those closest to us. We are the seasons of first dates and last dates, of saying goodbye along the sidewalk, and of welcoming new children into the world.
When we think about past relationships and current relationships, we communicate with who we think we are. We are at all times facing our fall, our part II, our reprise, just as we face the lives we have built.
At its heart—and its heart is vast—"Maybe Next Time" is reflexive. It is the melody and the beat, the reluctance and the resoluteness, the road we came from, but also the road ahead of us.