Detroit, US 42 F

© Laurie Bartolo 2021-2023



Most mornings I wake up with a song in my head. I’ll spend some time with the lyrics swirling in my brain and intermittently sing out loud before I finally decide it’s time to listen to the song. And once I do, the song often sets the tone for the day. 

Today I woke up with Van Halen’s “Can’t Stop Loving You” playing in my head. This song is from Balance, released in 1995. I was 26 years old at the time of the release, and this was my final year of living in Florida before packing it up and moving to Washington DC to completely start over.  

I moved to Florida five years earlier because I had to go somewhere after college and figured, why not go someplace sunny? I was 21 and unafraid of the prospect of moving alone to a place I’d never been before and where I knew no-one. I had no plan, just an unapologetic belief in myself and that anything was possible.

I worked my ass off in Florida, often holding down two jobs, determined to make it on my own. I spent most of my time slinging drinks to tourists on the beach and in the nightclubs. It took moxie, which I had in spades at the time, and I learned to hold my own in an unforgiving environment.

The hard work paid off. I saved about ten grand and proved that I could take care of myself in a big, lonely world far away from home. But my time was up in the Sunshine State and I was headed to the nation’s capital, the location of my next fresh start. Once again, I’d find myself alone in a new city where I knew no-one.

I dreamed of finding love there, and ultimately I would, but only after a long decade of disappointments and hard life lessons. It is often said that good things are worth waiting for, which is true in terms of love, but I wonder if it’s simply the agony of waiting that makes us appreciate real love once we finally find it.

There’s a time and place for everything, for everyone

We can push with all our might but nothing’s gonna come

Oh, nothing’s gonna change

And if I asked you not to try

Oh, could you let it be?

“Can’t Stop Loving You” (1995) Sammy Hagar / Edward Van Halen / Alex Van Halen / Michael Anthony

I have the Balance cassette in my growing cassette collection, so with this particular song in my head, I had the choice of listening to the cassette or the digital download.  That was an easy decision today.

The cassette player takes me back to ‘95 more readily than the song itself. There I was on the cusp of a major life change, unafraid, yet too eager for the destination and no patience for the journey. I suppose that last phrase could sum up my twenties, and possibly how I’m feeling at this moment of my life as well. 

The simplicity of “Can’t Stop Loving You” and the era in which it was born, was a welcome feeling today. The song and vibe that it created stayed with me all day; I was unafraid and felt like anything was possible. And I wondered if I could find the patience for the journey.