Thursday, June 15, 2006

so she accepts the process

Sunday night, I went out to a bar to hear a friend spinning obscure 80's music. I'm not sure which was more unnerving--realizing that I remembered at least 75% of the lyrics, or that nobody else in the bar recognized any of it. One woman came up and asked for the Rolling Stones. Another explained that she was from France, only planned to stay in the bar for another hour, and she'd better be hearing something she recognized in that time, like, oh, U2. Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to learn to live with disappointment, my friend more or less said. One guy won my undying admiration when he came up and asked for Gang of Four's At Home He's a Tourist; admiration only slightly dimmed by the fact that the guy then went on to describe how he just moved to SF from Florida and found an apartment and a $45k/year job in less than a week. In other words, he was really altogether too chipper for Go4, but I let it slide.

I kept thinking I should leave--Sunday is the night I write the stuff I get paid for, and I was pretty groggy anyway--but he kept putting on songs I liked and hadn't heard in years, so I kept not leaving. Content to sit in the dark nursing a pear cider and trying to remember what it was like, being sixteen, and hearing this stuff for the first time. Especially the Go4, to which Fig first introduced me, he of the poetry and clove cigarettes, but all of it: the English Beat, Ultravox, my beloved Adam, Siouxsie and the Banshees. The music I listened to as a disaffected teenager going to school in a wealthy suburb of Detroit, trying to make sense of the dominant teen culture and failing.

We'd talked about how there were songs we didn't like the first time that we do now. For me, some of that has to do with finally understanding what the lyrics are really about. It's easy enough at sixteen to know what a broken heart feels like, but it's entirely different at thirty-six, and doubtless forty-six and sixty-six and so on. The way everything becomes so subtle and complex, where it used to be so simple--and awful. We thought we knew from pain, I told him, but we didn't.

Or know that the pain that seems so terrible you can't bear it does eventually ease. It may not go away completely; your heart starts to feel like a room full of shadows, and it gets harder to approach any new situation with the same openness you once did. The losses start to feel different--am I feeling just this loss, or all of the ones that came before that I never fully metabolized? Which bruise am I poking here, exactly? Something promising evaporated not too long ago because the shadow in someone else's heart looked like me; I am all too aware that the losses I face now come with an aftertaste of my father's death, not yet fully absorbed.

But I'm getting there.