He’s got a guitar strapped to his back, so he takes it out and starts playing me covers. Ryan Adams’s “Come Pick Me Up.” Something by Solomon Burke, maybe. He tries to play my favorite Elvis Costello song, “I Want You,” but it winds up sounding ridiculous, so he tries Paul Simon, and that sounds worse, so he just goes into his own song, “Let’s Take a Ride,” from the “Justified” album, which he’s surprised I love so much considering it wasn’t a hit. It’s been so long for him that he can’t even remember the words, and I have to prompt him.
Then he tells me a secret. He’s been writing new music and he’s afraid to release it because it’s been so long. I listen to a song or two. It’s good, and I tell him so. Then we talk about our love problems and decide that we just want to forget it all by eating too much Ethiopian food. He drops me off at my apartment.
Yes, my relationship with Justin Timberlake is obviously one-sided. Except that it’s not. Because whatever’s on “The 20/20 Experience” is going to be my background music. For something big. Or maybe small. Or sexy. I don’t know, because it hasn’t happened yet.
Later, when I’m older and I hear a song from this album, I’ll say, “This came out just as I. . .” and then I’ll remember the good or the bad thing that the songs pushed me through, and how I listened to the big hits at the gym and warmed to other tracks over time.
It begins right now. I’m about to hit play. The beat goes on. For both of us.
Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.