Because guess what song came on the other day — after the last post — while I was cleaning my bedroom?
The thing about that last post, by the way: I’ve heard nothing but nice things about it, mostly privately. I’m happy about that because it’s so hard to tell the truth about relationships and almost always massively rewarding when you do.
But there are reasons those truths are hard to tell. The one I spend the most time thinking about is structural: prose has a specific forward trajectory. You start a sentence or a paragraph in one particular way and there are only so many ways you can end it. You choose a particular word at the expense of millions of other words. And even the most truthful things I’ve ever written contain myriad lies.
Structurally, it works really well to say that I believe my mother demonstrated her love for me by saving up little things to say throughout the day, by writing down inside jokes and tucking them in the envelopes she brought up to the front office for me at school when I called to say I’d forgotten my lunch money (this happened often). It works well to say that I believe the sharing of ridiculous and trivial details is a bonafide expression of love, in general. It ties things together. It turns an already terribly long and meandering blog post into something cogent: an essay.
The truth of course is something else, something that would take me many more or far fewer words than the goddamn 3,000 I took writing that post. The truth is that the desire to share goofy details is not a demonstration of the depth of one’s affection necessarily; it’s a particular category of affection. I have, in my life, my compulsive-sharing-of-funny-links friends and my long-conversations-about-big-important-things friends and friends I rarely talk to at all, but still love enormously.
It’s just easier, structurally tidier to say, It might have been really messed up that my mother and I communicated so much through “Simpsons” quotes? But also, maybe it was just fine? And maybe my failure to relate to people — with anything but surface-complex-but-skin-deep banter is also messed up? But maybe it’s just fine? and leave it at that. Because, you know. The lady doth etcetera: I’m only thinking about this because on some level it is not fine with me. On some level it really bothers me that I’m so completely unable to relate to some people in a more sincere way.
I think what I meant then is more along the lines of — and, wow, talk about an unfortunate reference, but it’s the one that popped into my head: You go to war with the army you’ve got. Uh. How about: you build bridges with the tools you have? You know. When the only tool you have is a ham–OK. You know what? Let’s just pretend this attempted analogy never happened and move along.
Where was I? Oh yeah: thanks to Pandora deciding that I like Billy Joel (which is not, generally speaking, the truth), I actually paid attention to the lyrics of “For the Longest Time” this weekend (it was the lack of knowing the lyrics, only the chorus, that drove us nuts, I think), and…somehow, in all those years of using it to tease my mom, I’d never noticed that it’s kind of a wonderful song. It’s so sincere and wistful and just totally, totally charming, and I’ve had it in my head for days now. What can I say? I…don’t…care what consequence it brings. I…have…been…a fool for lesser things.
I’m a particular sucker, see, for songs that articulate an emotional state I might not feel at the moment, but sort of wish I did. Once, when I was living with my folks after college and hadn’t had a date in two years, I was driving over the Blues very early one morning and Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight” came on the radio and I was sort of swept away by it, by how lonely and sincere it sounded and how completely and utterly alien it was to my experience at the time.
And “For the Longest Time” not only evokes an emotional state (the Surprising New Crush) that has loooong lain dormant in my particular psyche, it’s about not having been there for, uh, the longest time.
Now I’m goddamn obsessed, and somewhere, my mother is cackling.
EDIT: Apparently, it’s actually called “The Longest Time.” Whatever. No matter what I call it, it’s never leaving me alone again.