Love, Music, and …Some Old Dude

My first summer crush didn’t turn out as I’d expected, but I learned plenty
Illustration by Masha Manapov

Orange County’s sun-drenched beaches and summer concerts—the perfect settings for me as a 10-year-old girl to develop my first all-consuming, hopeless crush.  That summer 13 years ago, my mom and I spent every weekend driving back and forth from our home in Irvine to Newport Beach. The air smelled like sunscreen and salt water as I spent days in the ocean. The CDs we listened to were the soundtrack to our summer adventures, but one of them became my favorite.

I had never heard of Fleetwood Mac, but on the back of the case, a handsome guitarist stared at me from under a list of song titles. The first track began to play over the speaker, and in that second, I fell in love with rock star Lindsey Buckingham.

As I listened to the music, staring into the eyes of my crush, I hummed along to the lyrics about love and relationships that I had not experienced, but that seemed profoundly true. I later imagined Lindsey’s cute brown curls, billowy hippie shirt, and those deep, soulful eyes as I tapped my foot in the sand.

All through June, I fantasized about my impending relationship with Lindsey.

“If I’m 10,” I thought, “and he’s, let’s say, 20 … how long will I have to wait until our age difference isn’t weird?” I knew that ages 10 and 20 were worlds apart, but 20 and 30 didn’t seem like such a big difference. I would have to wait to pursue my Lindsey, but the wait would be well worth it. After all, those sensitive eyes of his were ageless.

Kate, my friend from down the street, attended concerts every week that summer, a perk of her mom’s job at The Pond, now Honda Center. She would often meet me at the pool wearing a Britney Spears or ’N Sync T-shirt, gloating about the great time she’d had at a show.
“And then there’s some weird band,” she said, trying to remember the name. It was a warm afternoon, and we were eating ice cream sandwiches in my backyard. She was reciting her upcoming concert schedule. “Feet or Fleet …”

“Fleetwood Mac?” I asked.

She raised an eyebrow. “You’ve heard of them?”

I invited myself to the show, and Kate’s mom graciously dug up an extra ticket for me. During the long weeks leading up to the concert, I played Lindsey’s music over and over in the car and on my portable CD player. I played air-guitar with him during “Big Love” and howled along to “Dreams” as I fantasized about seeing my crush for the first time.

A month later, I walked to Kate’s house, my arms and legs tan and my hair blond from the sun. Finally, the big night was here. I drove with Kate and her mom to The Pond,  and we threaded through crowds to get to our seats on the arena’s floor.

I was ready to see Lindsey in person. I was so thrilled that I failed to notice there were no kids in the audience other than Kate and me. I wasn’t aware that everyone else was at least 20 years older, and I never thought to do the math from the tour dates on the backs of fans’ T-shirts.
The lights dimmed, and the stage began twinkling. The music started with the beat of a drum, and the lights finally brightened, revealing the band. I stood on my chair, just barely seeing over the heads of other fans.

“Who’s that holding the guitar?” I thought. The man was ancient, with withered skin like crumpled tissue. It couldn’t be my man. Lindsey was young, with curly brown hair and flowing, white peasant tops. This guy wore simple, boring clothes, and his hair was turning gray. This couldn’t be my Lindsey.

I searched the stage, confused, until finally the camera did a close-up on the guitarist, projecting his face on the big screen. I recognized those soulful blue eyes

I searched the stage, confused, until finally the camera did a close-up on the guitarist, projecting his face on the big screen. I recognized those soulful blue eyes.

One might have heard my tiny heart breaking over the cheers of the crowd. Lindsey, my Lindsey, with his groovy looks and far-out clothes … was old. Lindsey Buckingham was finally in front of me, only I was decades too late. I watched in shocked silence, staring up at the guitarist I thought I knew so well. After all, I’d spent my whole summer with him.

I remember sitting in the back seat during the drive home, internally running through conversations I’d had with my mom about how she’d loved Fleetwood Mac for years. Those comments didn’t fully register until that moment.

One summer about 10 years later, while I was home from college, I came across one of my Fleetwood Mac CDs. After slipping it into my computer and pushing play, I fell in love again, this time just with the music. Now the hauntingly sweet songs were more mesmerizing. I found meaning in the lyrics of “Landslide” and realized what “You Make Loving Fun” was actually about. Older and with more experience, I was hearing what I had been too young to understand. Just as it was meant to, the music enveloped me in thoughts of love and hope.

Soon afterward, I was driving to Newport Beach when I spotted a billboard for a Fleetwood Mac concert at Honda Center. I bought tickets for my mom and me. We sat way up in the last row of the arena. We had such a good time listening and singing along, and it was fun to once again share our love of the band. All evening I was filled with memories of that summer years ago—warm beach days, good music, and the innocence of young love.

I looked down at the object of my pre-teen crush. He was as handsome as ever. As I studied his gray hair gleaming in the lights and his fitted leather jacket hugging his arms, I couldn’t help but think, “If I’m 20 and he’s … let’s say, 50, how long would I have to wait for that to not be weird?”

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