Letter M is for melting, it’s for “the” moment, and for music.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter L was for Liebster, a Q & A list of sorts, and so now a musical list of…moments. ~
It’s a definable moment. That instant when you glimpse something new in someone, or in their eyes, or breathe in their skin, and melt. For me, that moment has often been accompanied by a song playing in my head, theme music each time I would think of them.
First there was S. He was an acquaintance who in the last minute, tagged along to Italy with me and a girlfriend when I was seventeen. He stayed behind in Venice and I didn’t see him for another six months. Days after we had parted, I was in a train compartment to Rome and surprised by my feelings for him. But once they awoke in me, I could not stop thinking about him. I had two theme songs for him, both by the Cure, a band we mutually liked.
In my mind, the words from “The Perfect Girl” were those we’d interchangeably recite to one another, substituting the gender:
You’re such a strange girl / I think you come from another world / You’re such a strange girl / I’d like to turn you all upside down… I think I’m falling / I think I’m falling in / I think I’m falling in love with you/ With you…
And the soft, wistfulness of “Catch” represented for me the loss and separation I felt at having left him behind. It was as if I were sitting in his head, watching him think these thoughts about me:
And she used to fall down a lot / That girl was always falling / Again and again / And I used to sometimes try to catch her / But I never even caught her name… And sometimes we would spend the night / Just rolling about on a floor / And I remember… She used to just stand there and smile / And her eyes would go all sort of far away / And stay like that for quite a while…
Years later, after S. and I had reunited, had a relationship and then broke up, any time I would listen to younger David Bowie, I would choke up and think of S. Once more, it was a sense of loss, a sense of what we had and what we could’ve had.
“Heroes:” I, I will be king / And you, you will be queen… We can be Heroes, just for one day… And “Ashes to Ashes:” Ashes to ashes, funk to funky / I’m happy, hope you’re happy too / I’ve loved all I’ve needed love…
Then came Milan. I never pined quite so much for anyone as Milan. I met him twenty years ago and I fell for him on sight. I worked in a nightclub and he walked in for his first day of the job. I looked up to find a tall guy with a motorcycle jacket, black hair and a chiseled jaw. I sensed his intensity and I was done. He was for me. I knew it immediately.
We began briefly seeing each other, but my life was complicated at the other end because I was still getting over S.
Coincidentally or not, Milan was a fan of the Spin Doctors’ song, “Two Princes.” It became my song for him, as if he sang it to me.
I couldn’t get him out of my mind for two straight years, and I vaguely blamed myself, or, how I was, for it not working out:
One, two princes kneel before you / That’s what I said now / Princes, princes who adore you / Just go ahead now / One has diamonds in his pockets / That’s some bread, now / This one said he wants to buy you rockets / Ain’t in his head, now…
By the time I met A., I was pining for the two guys before him and dabbling with some other minor ones.
“Do you really want to be number six?” I asked him. He laughed it off, and I went away for a month to shoot a movie.
It was during the month away that I had my moment about him. It took place in his absence, as it had with S.
I had heard A. sing Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” Once thoughts of him flooded me, the song would not stop playing in my head, as if charming A. were serenading me nightly:
I wanna live / with a cinnamon girl / I could be happy / the rest of my life / with a cinnamon girl
I shot the movie, returned to New York, and all talk, thoughts and feelings about anyone else evaporated because A. and I became entwined. We lasted for five years.
When we broke up, I moved to California and A. compiled music for me, just as he had always done. There was bitterness in some of his choices. He said Roger Waters’ “The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” represented his emotions about me, California and “how I am,” and pointed out that the song even mentioned S. by name:
How ya doin bro?…where ya been?…where ya goin’? …Then he takes your hand / In some strange Californian handshake / And breaks the bone / Have a nice day… Sweet vodka and tobacco in her breath / Another number in your little black book… “Why prolong the agony, all men must die” / Do you remember Dick Tracy? / Do you remember Shane? / These are the pros and cons of hitchhiking / Oh babe, I must be dreaming again…
My melting feeling, the devastating pangs, didn’t have to be about lovers. It happened the first time I saw the face of my half-brother. It was at the moment of his birth, while I watched my stepmother’s C-section from the doorway of the operating room. But it wasn’t love at first sight; I already loved him from before he was born. I had dreamt about him before he was even conceived, and when I saw his face, born to my stepmother, I simply recognized him. And I melted.
The only song I had for him were words I wrote to him:
Leaving you / and the day so sticky /extracts all benevolence / from the streets / can’t keep my shoulders straight. / I saw you before you knew / of sun and sky / I dreamt you long ago / you turned in a snowflake Ferris wheel. / You came / and removed so much / dust from our lives.
Then of course, there was Freezer. He sheltered me from my own fragility. He held me, platonically, and I smelled his skin and I knew he was good. My head started chanting again and again, one line from a Snake River Conspiracy song I had been hearing of late. The words weren’t remarkable. But the surge in me, regarding Freezer, was. And because I wasn’t going to say the words to him out loud — not yet — they kept repeating in my head:
I think I’m in love with you / I hope you feel the same way too…
There were others. I thought I had my “moment” with a boy after he took off his winter hat. All his wild hair spilled out and his eyes told me he knew exactly the effect. But my true moment came when he had his moment about me: We were in the sun and he gazed into my eyes, which turn goldish when reflecting sunlight. His mouth parted slightly; he was disarmed for perhaps the first time.
For him, my song was “Rocket Queen” by Guns ‘N Roses, as if recited by him. It contained something both beautiful and destructive, and by the end contradicted itself. I knew nothing about what was to come in my relationship with the boy, but the sense of impermanence and longing was there from the beginning, imbuing all of our moments with a bittersweet aching:
If I say I don’t need anyone / I can say these things to you ;/ ’cause I can turn on anyone / Just like I’ve turned on you… And I can do you favors / But then you’ll do whatever I like… Here I am / And you’re a Rocket Queen / I might be a little young / But honey I ain’t naïve…
And by the end of the song, a mournful:
Don’t ever leave me / Say you’ll always be there…
Another followed. He was supposed to be a rebound. He was the only person who successfully took my mind off the wild-haired one. He played a lot of songs that I associated with him, but none took on meaning until after I realized he was no mere rebound. Then all at once, the songs he played most were smacks of irony upside my head.
From The Bird and the Bee, “Fucking Boyfriend:”
There is something wrong and there is something right / When you can take me by the hands and I will close my eyes / When you laid down with me you took the other side / When you laid down with me you never slept that night / Are you working up to something, but you give me almost nothing / Keep me helpless up to something on my knees / Would you ever be my, would you be my f*cking boyfriend
It was absurd really, because he wanted to be no one’s boyfriend, and I certainly didn’t care. Until I did.
My moment with him probably took place before I acknowledged it to myself. But my conscious melting happened across a table at a café. I was eating quiche as we both worked on our laptops. The last bite sat on my plate and I offered it to him. He wanted it, but he knew I wanted it too, so he shook his head. I insisted, and an instant of exchange took place between our eyes. I saw that he saw I wanted him to have it more than I wanted it for myself.
That’s when I knew what I felt.
From that point, the other song hit home too. Metric’s “Sick Muse:”
And you wrote the song I wanna play / I’ll write you harmony in C / Everybody just wanna fall in love / Everybody just wanna play the lead
In the present, there is a song too. It’s a duet that I both sing with a guy, and associate with him. It’s self-explanatory, although the meaning changes depending on who’s singing it to whom. From Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty, “Stop Draggin My Heart Around:”
Now you’re keeping some demons down / Stop draggin’ my / Stop draggin’ my heart around
In the end, if there were only one song to encompass all for me, it would be the Cure song, “Six Different Ways:”
This is stranger than I thought / Six different ways inside my heart / And everyone I’ll keep tonight…
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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