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Lusty Lady

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

But I kill dreams in the chase/I slap love in the face

I buy the MP3 version of Mary Lou Lord's album Live City Sounds so that I can play my boyfriend her cover of "Thunder Road," since we're going to see Bruce Springsteen, and I know he's a huge fan. We'd just been talking about Springsteen's use of plain girl names, and there's one, "Mary." We sit on the couch and listen and then we make out and the album keeps going and it's an effort to keep myself in the moment, because every song is a time capsule of so many moments. Finding her music was this way out of the stultifying life of the law that never fit me well, though New York City totally did.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to treat myself to a day away, an adventure all by myself, to see Shawn Colvin in Wilmington, Delaware. She and I are circling near each other in the Washington, DC area. I'm speaking at MOMENTUMCON, at the end of a busy month that involves SXSW and a family wedding in Chicago and a lot of assorted projects. That need to escape, though, is something I'm not sure I can do in a day. I'm working as hard as I can to be utterly present, in the now, rather than the past, but that trip seems like such a clear marker, of that old me and the new me. Last year I almost didn't go to DC. I had a complete and utter freakout that involved throwing butter in the street and melting down and then while I was on the bus got an email that should've been pretty much the biggest red flag I've ever seen, but instead I pretended that it wasn't, pretended all sorts of things that haunted the rest of the year. I only now am starting to let go of all the emotions that were stirred up then, all the flaws of mine that seemed to glow from my iPhone screen, and continued to as I wandered amongst the cherry blossoms.

I have a date this year for the conference, and the cherry blossoms. There's a part of me that loves the coupley-ness of that, the domesticity that we keep playing at for a few hours or a few days at a time. It's as welcoming and warm as it is alienating and surreal, and sometimes the collision of those opposing forces feels like it's happening inside me. It's not so much a single/couple split but a freedom/anchoring split. There is a part of me that doesn't want to be beholden to anyone or anything, to literally be able to, as the song says, pick a day and be in a new destination, which is what I'm going to do, and have been doing. I know I have a ways to go in terms of easing out of being that girl I was last year, so empty and needy and fearful and eager to please, back when I thought there was some special way I could be or act that would get me what I wanted. I know now more surely than ever that all those things I thought I wanted from the person who sent me that email, who sent me a photo of the cherry blossoms blooming, all that supposed validation, isn't something I can ever get from anyone else, even the kids I dream about. I don't have names picked out, but I have a vision of the life I want. I see it when I hold my friend's baby warm against me, when her daughter points at my computer screen and counts the cupcakes she sees. I see it when I look at the 10-day-old in the photo nestled against another friend, when I send him a stuffed purple block with a cow on it.

Live City Sounds opens with a Magnetic Fields cover, "I Don't Want to Get Over You." Either version, the original, or Mary Lou's, has this almost over joking tone even though it's about that agony of knowing you have to get over someone but you know you're not even going to try because there's no point. It's from 69 Love Songs which featured songs like "I Think I Need a New Heart." For such an awfully long time, I could identify with both of those sentences. My heart was so stuck in the past that every time I tried to yank it into the present, it was stubborn and angry and mocked me, letting me get as far as I possibly could, like a kid on one of those leashes. There I'd be in the present, thinking I was looking and moving forward, when really I was just readying myself for a hard crash back into the past, and we'd collide so hard I'd be useless for days and weeks at a time. Now, I don't think you could pay me to cry on command on a subway train. Well, you could try, but I don't think even conjuring up the darkest moments would do it. It's more a hollowness, a what if, an uneasy truce with the truth of the situation. And sometimes get the fuck out of town, but hopefully manage to keep my dreams within easy reach.

I take too many planes
I know too many names and I
Forget them
I wanted to know if dreams
Would lie
You said they would try and I
Said let them
You just let them
But I kill dreams in the chase
I slap love in the face
Ricochet in time to the music
You just pick a day and I’m in
A new destination

Shawn Colvin, "Ricochet in Time"

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