Monday, January 12, 2009

oh, but it's hard to live by the rules

My iHome was on shuffle while I was making dinner, as it usually is. I tend to have music on in the kitchen, and although sometimes I'll be in the mood for a specific artist or type of music, for some reason I tend to shuffle when I cook. I have a lot of varied stuff on my iPod, so it's always a crapshoot as to what's going to come on next. As usual, it was loud, the better to cancel out the blare of video games emanating from the living room.

The song stopped me in my tracks when it came on, like it does every time I hear it. And for the next four minutes or so, I experienced the same split reality I always do when I'm listening to it.

My current reality faded. I wasn't a forty seven year old woman with three kids, standing in my ludicrously spacious kitchen, lines around my eyes and gray hairs trying to give my Miss Clairol a run for her money. There were no dogs running underfoot trying to catch scraps as they fell, no bickering from the next room. The warm and spicy smells of my home disappeared, as my mind went where it always goes.

I was twenty years old and deeply, desperately, obsessively in love with a man who was giving me a serious run for my sanity, a man who was like no other man I had ever known. My entire life was in upheaval. My mom had moved away following an acrimonious split from my step-father, I had just finished my first year of college (having taken off a year after high school to work), and for the first time in my life I was living alone. I hated it. I was surviving on instant pancake mix out of a box and the generosity of friends who would occasionally feed me. Money was tight. I was living in a four room back house that would have tucked easily into my current kitchen. It was dark and dank, and even came with the requisite derelict landlord, but it was cheap and it was moderately safe.

All the details paled next to the man issues, however. I didn't know at the time that this would be the man that every prospect in my life would be measured up against, the man I didn't know that I would still carry such a soft spot for all these years later. All I knew was that I was miserable. I was reeling from the magnitude of my emotions and so was he. He was a genuinely nice guy who didn't know what the hell he had gotten himself into. It was harder and harder to keep my cool, my objectivity, my pride. My entire being boiled down to being with him. I was obsessed. And it wasn't pretty for anyone involved.

Needless to say, it didn't work out. We went out for a couple of years and after we broke up we still stayed in touch. We weren't enemies, but we weren't friends either. One day six months or so later, after the FX and I had been going out for a short time, he showed back up on my doorstep with an olive branch extended for a reconciliation. We had both grown up a lot, both learned a lot, both had a better understanding of who we were. The offer was on the table.

And I turned it down. Because I still loved him too much. Still cared too much. Still would have moved heaven and earth just to touch his skin. I was afraid I wouldn't survive another breakup, wouldn't be able to deal with the shocking depths of my feelings. He wasn't safe for me and never would be. I chose safety. With both eyes wide open I chose safety.

It's amazing what can run through your mind in four minutes.

I think most people have a song like that. This is mine. It was all over the radio at the time, by my very favorite band, and summed up my situation perfectly.

What's yours?


lv4921391 said...

I don't have a song like that in my memories...I wish I did

the planet of janet said...

i can't listen to cat stevens for similar reasons.

and "when a man loves a woman" always makes me physically ill.

but i'm a little over-reactive.

Frances said...

Memory is like that, eh? sliding doors.

And it's a vulnerable time for you.

However hard it was/is to love like that, at least there is no doubt.

We carry our unfinished business with us unless we can really face it down and leave it behind. Nothing ever replaced that part for you, so the memory has to do it.
I hope something will come along for you in a while, when you have properly healed - something so whole that you won't still have that subconscious hankering anymore.

Rose said...

Hmm, I'll have to think about that one. Funny how music can be so powerful.

Potty Mummy said...

What a great track. boy #2 loved it too - strange to listen to something from my teens with my 3 year old son on my lap...

Maggie May said...

Awwww. That was a good post.

Devon said...

I don't remember the name of the song, but the words echoed an experience that happened to me when the song was popular.

"Hush hush keep it down now, voices carry".

Dumped him in the name of self preservation!

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh without a doubt:

Has me in tears. every. single. time.

Akelamalu said...

'This Old Heart of Mine' The Isley Brothers.

Iota said...

Well, if we're all shaking out our dirty laundry, here's mine.

It was the backing track to a laughably cheesy ad at the movie theaters for Southern Comfort at the time, so any movie we went to see involved singing along to this first of all. Says it all, really, especially in retrospect.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow, I loved this post RC, really gorgeous and poigant.

I don't think i have one song like that, but there are a few from the early 90s whe I was a teen that make me feel all wistful for my youth. Like anything by Wonderstuff or Senseless Things or Lemonheads or Suede.

Happy ew Year. Sorry for the lack of comments, life has been mad. Happy New Year. :D

the rotten correspondent said...

I loved hearing about and listening to other people's songs. Music is an amazing thing.

Frances - thanks for that thought to chew on. That hadn't occurred to me.

Devon - It's called Voices Carry and it's by 'Til Tuesday. And I have very powerful reactions to that song, too. Still.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Amazing how a couple if riffs of music can unexpectedly hit you in the gut--mine's Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Crazy about a boy. This song was playing in the background. Didn't get out of that one without some pain.

auntiegwen said...

Lets Stick Together by Roxy Music

I wonder if he can listen to it, I know I can't


For Reasons Unknown by The Killers is the theme tune for my new life post him and I have survived and I am now actually happy