Sometimes, once in a while, mostly when you’re not ready for it, (or maybe I just operate in a constant state of unreadiness) something—it could be a book, or a film, or a particular shade of a particular color, or a sports car—will come along and kiss you on the forehead and make you feel the way that only another person should be able to make you feel. Something that retains the humanity that went into making it so well that you can feel it being projected out at you.
Maybe this only happens to me. Maybe a fear of intimacy so strong that my closest friends know very little about me has created this outlet for emotional interaction. Or maybe that’s exactly the kind of argument that a fear of intimacy would concoct to keep me from finding out that it happens to everyone and we’re all in this together.
I really have to stop thinking so much.
I’m still coming down. We sped off to DragonCon, the lot of us careening over the mountain in a black chariot to the sounds of a mix that was made just for us. Hannah-who-dislikes-rap-music made an effort to find rap songs I liked and every one was a winner. They were woven in between the Backstreet Boys, Florence, and Old Crow. It worked. We talked excitedly. We shouted. We held our breath for four hours.
Of course once you get there you don’t have time to breathe. You just run from one thing to the next, attending countless panels, getting shut out of the biggest ones, playing countless games, high-fiving countless Deadpools. You gnaw your own arm off in the basement of the Hilton at three in the morning because you cannot leave the fantastic game you are in the middle of, or you give in and run upstairs to spend outrageous dollars on a slice of cold pizza.
You prowl the streets at all hours, and you’re never alone. With you are people all the time, everywhere, somebody just clicked every single spot and laid as many people down as they could. Seventy thousand, in fact. You wonder how those people are getting along, if they’re having a good time, if other people said nice things to them about their costumes. You remember the times in years past where your costumes didn’t work out the way you planned, and you cringe at some of the reactions you got.
Everyone, I think (I hope) is there to be a friend. To experience life out in the open, proudly, for ninety-six short hours. You and seventy thousand of your closest friends are crushing it.
On Monday morning I fall immediately back into perspective and lament how quickly the time passed. This year it was maybe half a blink and it was over. Time to leave, time to sort out breakfast plans and fidget and struggle to keep our eyes open on the ride home.
We arrived in a daze and now having had to return to life far beneath the clouds I feel sick, which might be from all the beautiful stress of traveling and stage makeup or it might be from the 12-hour workday I pulled on Tuesday. It doesn’t matter. I feel like shit and then this song dropkicks its way into my life.
It’s the kind of song I’m so excited about that I haven’t listened to any of their other songs. I don’t want to ever be let down and as long as I play “Waitress” I never will be. I don’t want to know who they are, where they came from, especially not where they’re going—because that last one is likely “up”, soon too far up to see, so far removed from this grounded place I’ve discovered them in, where I can still go to a tiny club and thank them in person for what they’re doing. Not that I don’t want them to be successful—I want everyone to experience this, right now, together, and then loop it on into eternity. Let’s be the masters of our own destruction. Let’s wreck all the plans God has in store for us.
I’ve fallen in love with a song, and it’s just beyond the most excellent thing I could have done. From the first I knew—this doesn’t always happen, but this time I knew right away, I was fully invested from the opening riff and then came the rough rugged sandpaper-on-a-crystal-vase precise pristine vibrant voice of rock’s finest vocalist since ever. You can hear her give everything, beyond everything, you just know she lost a little bit of her range doing this track. You know she does this on the road every night, she overloads circuits at clubs and radio stations everywhere because she is compelled to, not by any God or mystical religious force but by the songs she holds in her own heart.
I’ve done things this week I haven’t done in a lifetime. I listened to the same song on repeat for days. I let the meaning unravel over multiple listens, and when it finally clicked I searched for the lyrics to take them all in and hold tightly on to my favorite lines. And it has a narrative! I throw “Waitress” in the face of every aughts-indie abstract garbage-spewing lyric that remains safely at arm’s length. Writing a song with a narrative that works—it doesn’t have to be linear or complicated, it just has to work—is the apex of the art.
I obsessed about the vocal at 1:14 where she makes her voice crack up and then down and then up again, who knew that this technique existed? We’ve had a million screamers, but this is something completely different…this is screaming and crooning and falsetto and churlishness wrapped in pain and hell and yeah quite possibly crafted by the cruel hand of some supreme entity whom we will never know, who exists only in realms beyond our sphere of thought.
It’s paired with religion a lot, this feeling, and it should be and it shouldn’t be. That happened to me once. I felt called to go to Mexico and help build a house for a poor family there. It felt like God was giving me a sign, a wink and a nudge that I should go and not worry about the messy details, like having to ask my relatives for money, or what it might look like for a van full of white people to drive into Juarez, build a two-room house for one family (how were they selected? why couldn’t we do this for everyone?) and then shag ass right back out of there.
I was compelled to do this by Christ himself. That’s what it felt like. In hindsight, it’s a very similar feeling to what I get when I’m around someone I like very much, for example the girl who just happened to also be going on the trip to Mexico, whom I relished the thought of spending a 20-hour drive with. That’s the power of Christ, I suppose.
At any rate, that’s what people do. We make each other feel things, and we generate bullshit. They’re frequently confused for one another. We’ve spent a very long time as a society building gigantic communications networks just for the purpose of sending and receiving feelings in real time, and we immediately discover in every case the supreme amount of bullshit we can jam those networks with.
So maybe that bleeds over into objects, although certain objects, like songs, retain their humanity better than others, better than actual people do, and they are the catalysts that drive us all forward. We are only great when we are inspired to be great, when we are motivated by someone or something, and the people that can be motivated by their own selves are the ones to envy, the ones that will rise and have always risen to the top. I don’t count myself in this category, having written exactly one poem to an old crush, and therefore one too many, and countless songs about people I wish I had the courage to allow myself to try to get to know. All of my scribbles on life and death and stupidity are just lines of ink bled over cheap notebook pages. They’ll surely die. Maybe even tonight if I can find a place to burn them.