Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know

It was 2 in the morning, and though the wine pulled at my eyelids,

I sat there still, in your parents living room:

Thinking, perhaps, the night could still change.

It was March, 2013, your sister’s 18th birthday.

You and I would be 23, together, the following month – when she begged me to visit. And you stood behind her on the Skype call and smiled. “Sure,” you’d said in a manner that felt equivalent to a shoulder shrug.

“Well, I am in Spain,” I’d said (as though I hadn’t thought of this innumerable times already.) “I imagine tickets to Germany are cheap.”

You seemed agreeable enough to the idea, apathetic a bit, if I had had the courage to see it, but instead I insisted to myself that it was in your German blood to show little emotion.

If we’re being truthful, when I bought the ticket, I’d already decided what would happen between us.

7 years of loving you – both as a foreign exchange student then as who you were in your home.

I was sure you felt the same. And that the years would surely serve us.

So, when I arrived at the airport, with only your sister waiting there to pick me up:  

I found myself, now, two days into the weekend – drunk, eyeliner smeared, in your dad’s lounge chair, and heartbroken.

While you sat across the room from me, equally blurry-eyed, avoiding my gaze.

Your grandfather had spoken to me that night in German. Everyone around the table had laughed, including you, but when I asked later what he said – you hesitated:

‘He doesn’t like Americans.’

And the way you said it: I knew not to ask more.

As 2am moved painfully into 3, your best friend walked out to smoke a cigarette with your brother.

And your sister sat high off the night with friends in the kitchen.

It was just the two of us, for perhaps the only time that weekend, in your parents living room with the lamp on beside you.

The radio on the bookshelf played; turned down when your parents went to bed, but the melody loud enough to hear.

You looked at me.

And while I helplessly scanned your face for signs –

I knew, sitting across from you, that there was nothing to find.

This song, you muttered, peering into your beer.

I looked toward the radio to signal that I heard you.

Do you know it?

I shook my head.

Really? You said, like you didn’t believe me.

I shrugged. I don’t listen to the radio in Spain.

It plays everywhere here, every bar; every fucking restaurant.

I don’t know it.

For a moment, you lingered, allowing me to listen, before taking a sip of your beer.

You’ll love it, you muttered. Some guy named Gotye.

And the way you said it, implied you had thought about that before now.

I listened to the words, closely.

And my cheeks flushed with the verse:

You said that you could let it go

And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

When the chorus played again:

You looked up at me –


Gotye singing: I stared back, letting the words vaporize within the room.

In that moment, everything was said.

And there was nothing more to share.

Following that, you went to bed.

And I slept in your parents guest room; a long way from home.

Germany, 2007

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