True Devotion

I had been back in the States three days when Rocky Votolato played a living room show in Kansas City. It should have been the most normal thing in the world: back in my hometown, seeing Rocky with Weston, getting back to life as it was before I studied abroad. But I was still reeling. I sat on a pillow on the floor next to my boyfriend who I didn’t even know how to interact with anymore and listened as Rocky played my favorite songs. Our favorite songs.

From the moment I landed in Missouri, the summer heat had coated my skin with a humid sheen, pressing heavy and damp against my chest. I couldn’t breathe here. I couldn’t remember the way quarters and nickels felt in my hands, their weight seeming counterfeit compared to the Euros I’d become so familiar with. The seven months I had been gone made me weird around Weston, around everybody in America, it seemed. My friends and family and even my boyfriend seemed like strangers, and I didn’t know how to talk to them about the things I’d seen and done while I was away. So I said nothing.

Rocky was promoting his new album, True Devotion, but I had seen his show in Amsterdam so I knew what he was going to play. Weston hadn’t been there, though, and we held hands while Rocky played “Lucky Clover Coin,” “Instrument,” and “Sun Devil”. I rested my head on Weston’s shoulder and we sang along to the last song.

True devotion and true virtue will hold you at the center

As the waves crash over

Some things are forever

And your love is an anchor

As we were leaving the show, I saw April Votolato, Rocky’s wife, standing with him as he talked with fans. I recognized her from the cover of one of Rocky’s first albums. Her black hair and graphic tattoos contrasted with her pale skin and white dress, and on her shoulder I saw a portrait of a woman. Underneath it read “True Devotion,” and I wondered which came first, the tattoo or the album title.

That night, as Weston began to breathe heavy with sleep, I sobbed. My chest shook with each gasp and stifled cry, and it woke him.

“Weston,” I cried, “I feel so lost.” He wrapped his arms around me and I buried my face in his chest, tears sliding onto his bare skin.

“You’re not lost,” he spoke softly. “You’re home.”

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