Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Love Don't Live Here

Late night flight. LAX to Denver. Exhausted but it's a good exhaustion, thanks to a trip to Disneyland for Edward's birthday.

Window seat. The twinkling lights below remind me of the ride Peter Pan's Flight back in Fantasyland and the story my mother told me about going to Disneyland as a child on the opening date and riding that ride. She was terrified of dropping her doll the entire time.

The Real Ramona/Throwing Muses
Nostalgia strikes me (as it often does and not just on planes) and I scroll through multiple playlists on my iPod until I decide on the Throwing Muses, specifically their album The Real Ramona (one of the best albums ever recorded, in my opinion) and the music immediately transports me back to another time, circa the early 90's when life was a small smokey room populated with big people I actually liked and our every obscure moment was underscored by an amazing soundtrack.

The song Counting Backwards comes on, reminding me that I've mentioned this band in things I've written before, including a poem that I then spend minutes trying to remember the title of. No luck. Memory is as dim as these cabin lights.

I stare out the window, wondering if I'll ever get the chance to meet the lead singer Kristin Hersh to tell her in person how much her music and lyrics have inspired and comforted me over these sometimes turbulent, long years. Then I wonder how many other people have probably said the same thing to her and if you hear this enough, does the meaning become more hollow or does it matter every time?

Ellen West
Next track. Ellen West. One of my favorite songs of all-time, yet I have no idea why. Ellen West was a poet who suffered from anorexia and mental illness and committed suicide when she was 33. A sad life, for sure. I add another question to my imagined conversation with Kristin Hersh (why Ellen West? why her?; I answer my own question with why not?). The lyrics (and Kristin's delivery of them) always hit hard:

That last one messed me up
Things look bad
Things look tragic
I keep looking in the mirror
Afraid that I won't be there
Courting Ellen West, dancing on her grave
Saving Ellen West
My house is full of demons
I swear to God, I need to go to bed
I need to go to sleep
I'm awake with a vengeance
Saving Ellen West 'cause she wanted it
This way
My mouth is full of demons
I swear to God, I need to go to bed
I need to go to sleep
I need that hope chest
I need to breathe, I need you here
I need to disappear

As we begin our descent into Denver, I decide I need to listen to something different, hoping for something to change my mood. Hoping the perfect song will mark this airplane moment and make it a memorable one, this sudden and very intense realization that I've been missing me for a really long time - so much so that I vow to find my way back to me, no matter what it takes.

I just don't know how.

This epiphany/personal revolution occurs in the second-to-the-last row of this jet crossing over Colorado in the night.

So, like all things that come my way that I feel are too complex and complicated, I promise myself to write about them. Openly. With no fear. And then I decide keeping these words to myself doesn't suit my style, nor does it allow for the possibilities that somebody out there somewhere might connect/relate/give a damn.

Song choice. I decide on Love Don't Live Here by Ladyhawke, admitting to myself I'm more terrified by the uncertainty of my future/finding myself than I am about touching down. The landing is a graceful one. I breathe a sigh of relief, happy to have made it through another flight, another return trip, another journey seen to completion.

As we reach the gate, I wonder if the feeling/sense of home will continue to elude me.

The hour is late. Time for a new song. Time to find my parking ticket.


David-Matthew Barnes

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