The Soundtrack of My Life – 16 – A Sorta Fairytale

Goodness… Music truly is magic for me. I had completely forgotten that this song (and artist honestly) existed. That is until someone posted one of Tori Amos’ the other day on twitter. My memory whirred to life and every detail of my first boyfriend came rushing to me from deep within the archives. I was back there and filled with so much to write about that, without a second thought, I knew what song to do next.

I have had internet friends since I was 12. I nagged my mother to get it until we signed up for AOL. I wanted to recreate my own version of “You’ve Got Mail.” The moment our computer was connected to the world wide web I was in search of people to talk to. In a very roundabout way, one in which I cannot recall how we met, I started exchanging lengthy digital letters with a girl named Mary. (I still have all of them printed and held in a manila folder somewhere.) She lived in Minnesota, older than me by a year or two, and completely obsessed with the Broadway musical Les Miserable. She had broken the rules messaging me and when her parents found out about our exchanges they forbade her from sending any further correspondence. (Anyone can be anyone on the internet.) But like most teenage girls, she found a work around that wouldn’t get her into trouble. Mary commissioned her friend Tessa to type out and send me her handwritten letters in secret. That lasted for about a month when, eventually, those messages ended all together and, instead, Tessa and I became friends. The two of us were close enough that for Christmas one year she sent me a CD with a bunch of her favorite songs. On that disc was this one by Tori Amos.

At first I had no interest in it. It wasn’t really my vibe. I had just turned 17 and was going into my punk rock/emo phase. The tone and lyrics of this did not match how I felt inside. At least, when I first got it. It would however become an obsession later.

I only ever came out to someone by accident. Not so much that, but unexpectedly. I had been invited to an old friend’s, Becky, birthday party at a bowling alley. I went with the intent on telling her that I was “bisexual” because I had this gut feeling that she would accept me. However, because I brought along my friend Jenny as a buffer, I did not end up doing that at first. Instead Jenny and I stayed in our own lane and bowled. I was too scared to talk to Becky and, as the star of the evening, getting her alone was impossible. The party wound down and then Jenny and I both decided to head out too. I left feeling “relieved” I hadn’t said anything. Saying it would have made it real and my deeply held Christian faith wouldn’t have allowed it.

When I had gotten into my parents’ aquamarine station wagon, I turned the key to discover a completely dead battery.

“That sucks,” Jenny laughed and left me to fend for myself.

My parents showed up to help and as we waited for triple-A to come and bring “the bitch mobile” back to life, I went back into the bowling alley. I had to get one more look at the guy I had been salivating over all night.

I thought he was so handsome. Dressed all in black, with dark brown eyes and a brooding expression. His face was pockmarked by bad acne, but his smile was captivating. He was one of the handful of Becky’s friends still bowling, as my friend sat by herself playing with her brand new phone.

“I thought you had left” Becky had said.

I gave her the run down as I stared at her friend. Then from somewhere deep in myself I built up the courage to lean forward and whisper my confession in her ear. For the first time ever I told someone that I was bisexual.

“And your friend Sergio is really cute.”

She laughed and told me that he too was a recent recruit to the “friends of Dorothy.”

“Oh, really?” I had said. “Do you think you could hook a brother up?”

“I think I can do that,” she had replied.

The following day, as my parents drove us down to our family’s early Christmas party, I berated myself for having said anything. I regretted it. I wanted nothing more than to call her up and say, “I don’t know what I was saying. I’m not bisexual.” Even now as I type this I can feel the same churning in my stomach. “If I just hadn’t gone back inside…” I kept telling myself.

Even though I felt that then, when Becky called me to meet up with her and Sergio at the mall I jumped at the chance. I had already made it past the first hurdle, might as well keep going. See where it goes. We walked the length of the enclosed shopping center, Sergio and I hit it off instantly. Well, for me at least. I can’t speak for his experience.

My dad came and picked me up and took me home where I immediately got back in the car and returned to the mall. I joined back up with them and then went and saw the Two Towers. There Sergio and I sat together and held hands. My heart could have burst.

Every chance after that I would get together with Becky and have her call Sergio to come over. I was truly smitten. He was all I thought about, who I wanted to be around. I loved the smell of him. He wore a particular cologne that even to this day if I catch a whiff of it I’m taken back to the day we made-out on Becky’s bed.

The problem with letting yourself love who you want for the first time is you run the risk of feeling too much all at once. For so long I had deprived myself of allowing my true homosexual feelings. So once the cork was popped, all the pressure that had been building behind it exploded. And not in a fun way. I gave too much of myself too quickly.

After we had been kissing, again, on Becky’s bed, I whispered in Sergio’s ear that I loved him. He hesitated for a second and said it back. I was elated. I had never felt so amazing in my entire little life. However… it was after that in which his response to me changed. He became distant and avoided me like a mask mandate. I knew something was amiss but I couldn’t place it. Finally, a few days before the winter formal, he dumped me over the phone. It was my own fault. I forced it out of him. He was told to hold out until after the dance, but I was too much for him. The “gay thing” was too much for him. He wasn’t even sure he was queer. (Turns out… he’s just not gay for me.)

I was absolutely gutted. I had never been dumped before. Prior to this I had dated two other people, girls, and I had been the one to end things. This time… The pain I felt was intense. Like I said, once you allow yourself to feel things, for real, you have to also face the other side as well. And the emotional swings are just as broad.

I obsessed over him and re-ran every moment, especially the night I forced him to break-up with me, for months. I picked apart and analyzed everything trying to figure out what I had done wrong. It only took me a few years to realize that it had just been too much for Sergio. I absolutely came on wildly too strong, too fast. Sergio wasn’t ready. And, honestly, neither was I.

The break-up threw me into a depression, where it was so noticeable that my mother asked me repeatedly what was bothering me. Somewhere around the sixth time she had inquired, I snapped a response.

“My boyfriend dumped me,” I had said.

The look of shock on my mother’s face was intense. The color drained from her cheeks and her eyes bulged from their sockets.

“What are you saying?” She had asked.

My response is lost to the wave of raw emotion. I just remember saying I wasn’t full gay, but “Bi-bi-bi.” (Aka a lie-lie-lie.) My mother scurried from the family room and went to bed, crying.

Overcome with guilt at my mother’s response and fear of my mother knowing I liked men, I shuffled into her dark bedroom and lied, “I was just joking.”

“Why would you do that to your mother,” my father’s methodical voice said out of the darkness.

For the next few months, I moped around trying to cope. I blogged about it whenever I felt the pangs of sadness, but I could hardly get past my emotions. It was such a foreign concept to my young heart. How something could be alive and real in one moment, but gone forever the next, left me befuddled.

The worst part was that since Sergio was a close friend to Becky, he still came around. So, I had to make nice with this son-of-a-bitch whenever I saw him. And my heart would go from one extreme to the next. In one moment I want to grab his pudgy cheeks and kiss him, while in the next I wanted to knock his lights out. The best part was that in this friend group they would play the “slug bug” game but with two additions: out of state license plates and mustangs. Mustangs were included just because the dude who had originated the revised game hated them. And they were fucking everywhere. So, I got to hit him hard and often.

In the wake of the break-up I was set adrift and I rediscovered the song above. It captured me by it’s poetic lyrics and this ending where it leaves you wanting more. It inspired a short story I wrote to it’s tune, with the intent for the reader to listen to the song as they read. I think the term most artists like to use is it was “experimental.” It’s written in broken up scenes, almost like a dream or snapshots. I will include it below for the more curious minds. Just know that it is truly terrible.

I also seem to have written with this weird British accent. Gosh, I’m adorable.

****************************

Him until the End

The news came like a wave and hit each shore of ears all at the same time. The whole idea of it crashed into their ears and flooded their minds with foam. With each collision, a different response was expelled out of the crevasses of their minds through the mouths of the people; and each response varied from the negative, to the neutral, and to the positive, but how anyone could have a positive to such is a surprise; but nevertheless how people took it was the bulk of the story.

*             *             *

Jonathan Abhor awoke to sun and birds every day since he had found happiness; he pulled himself from the mountains of blankets and pillows and dressed with speed, for he couldn’t wait to see the thing that had brought joy into his life. He could hardly contain the happiness that broiled within him; there was so much that he couldn’t help but smile and laugh at the idea of ‘him.’ ‘Him’ was the coming and reason for all, just remember that, for ‘him’ was a benchmark moment within the life of Jon. ‘Him’ was responsible for the change that had occurred in the boy, he was why Jon even dressed differently.

After making some adjustments to his appearance, he rushed to his car, hopped in, and immediately started the engine and backed away from the house. From that point he raced to ‘heavens rest,’ the meeting point of where it all collided.

Anna Kismet’s room was a haven for all who didn’t wish to be seen, who could only do things there and not be judged, and peace and love would be found. Anna was a great reason for all of this, if it hadn’t been for her none of the recent events would have happened, she was perfect to Jon, for she had given the boy ‘him.’

‘Heavens Rest’ was almost silent as some movie played in the background, but none of that mattered for now because right now all that existed was Jon and ‘him.’ Together they laid in each others arms, gazing into the others eyes trying to find who they truly were. Without thinking, lost in the exchange of gazes, Jon leaned forward and kissed the lips of ‘him.’ A feeling of electricity flowed through his lips and continued in a steady stream through each of his limbs, until the two finally broke and together again they looked into the others eyes. Both smiled slightly and then ‘him’ leaned in and again they kissed innocently, but before Jon could realize what was going about he found himself locked into a kiss he didn’t want to end. Beauty existed and grew and before long they broke, and swimming in the scent of ‘him’ he said softly, “I love you.”  Those words hung lightly in the air until a response was tossed up and it was no longer alone, “I love you, too.” They kissed lips softly and wrapped together they lay with the other.

*             *             *

It was evening and the whole of the small town world was moving about, carrying out their lives through the streets and stores, trying to make sense of things that normally were fuzzy. Jon was alike those who lay before him. His world had stopped spinning and the sky had shattered and crashed to the earth, and the shards had cut his skin leaving him behind a bloodied mess standing alone. It was a night before the school dance, and oblivious to what was to happen, he and his friends were all busy getting things prepared. It was all frustrating and consuming, but to make his life complicated even more it was also the night that him decided to rid his life of Jon. ‘Him’ had spilled everything against his will, so on the phone he told his plight to a broken hearted boy, saying that he still wanted to be friends. Though through his strained eyes he looked back at the month they had lived as a pair, and those words “let’s be friends” held no effect to the scarred human being who only wanted to scream “Why? What was all of that? Was it all lies?”  But using every fiber of himself he held back the words and just accepted the ruthless murder of his trust and love.

Anna was there that night, for Jon was at her house, and she watched his face as it reddened with pain and his eyes welled with tears. She had to look away for fear she would soon cry too, and she was meant to be the strong one at this point in time. So, where it all began it ended and that was where so much more happened. Sobbing so hard on her shoulder Jon lost a giant piece of himself, a piece he would never get back because it was too great and large to lift and replace.

*             *             *

“Why did you break up with me,” Jon uttered from his lips against his better judgment.

“Because,” he began, “I never really liked you, and while we were dating I was sort of liking someone else. Plus, I was scared people would find out about us. I mean we couldn’t have kept it a secret forever.”  ‘Him’ had spoken this without any human remorse or sorrow, he spoke it almost maliciously as if to destroy the rest that was left of Jon; and it was there that the last piece of the boy broke away and in the darkness of an abyss he fell hoping to reach the end soon, where he knew he’d hit the ground and die.

*             *             *

The window of Jon’s room lay open, allowing in the sound and sweet scent of the spring rain as the boy penned his life’s tale upon paper. The more he recalled and wrote about the past month the more he hated his existence, and in time his story turned into a letter of good-bye. It was at the moment he finished that he decided to end his duration; he couldn’t take the pain for there was far too much. So, the story now told and able to be heard he leaped with hope to his car and climbed in, taking flight immediately to the school, and there his ending would commence.

*             *             *

“I don’t believe he did it,” said one girl, after the letter Jon had penned had been read by the school. “He was dating a guy! Was he gay?” 

“No. Weren’t you listening? In his letter it said he made a mistake falling in love with a guy, but that it was nothing more,” said the guy she had been speaking with.

*             *             *

…I’m killing myself because I loved him more than I’ll ever be able to comprehend; my life got better with his existence but what’s a life without him? There is just too much hurt for me to carry on without Cameron.

THE END

The Soundtrack of My Life – 9 – Dueles

The poetry that happens in life is chilling sometimes. This song is one of those moments for me. It is absolutely beautiful, and the lyrics are… I will post the English translation below.

After my husband had his weight-loss surgery, he was invigorated to better himself physically. He started putting effort into the way he dressed, skin care routine, and even started to go to the gym daily. In that vein my husband had gotten it in his head that he wanted a facelift. He longed for a more prominent jawline and chin. He has a little one but mostly his face goes right to neck. This is a physical trait that runs in his family. His grandmother and aunt have this facial feature. As with most things he becomes obsessed with, he did his thorough research to find a place that could and would do the surgery at a low cost but with optimum results. That search brought him to a surgeon in Tijuana who was highly awarded and recommended.

After a photographic consultation, he scheduled his appointment and paid a deposit to hold his spot.

Then Covid happened.

He was forced to stop going to the gym and his surgery date was pushed out 6 months to allow the global pandemic to get under control. Oh, how optimistic we all were.

During that time I worked from home and he met and brought Tony into the fold. Overall pretty good times.

The day of his surgery we drove down to Mexico. The entire time, both of us had this overwhelming sense of dread. It draped over me like a cold, wet blanket. My stomach was a tight, softball ball sized knot. I couldn’t shake the feeling, and it only got worse as the day went on. At the time, I chocked it up to me being nervous about dropping him off at the hospital and crossing back over the border on my own. I’m sure I would have messed it up or been kidnapped. I mean, I’m so abductable.

Then there was the moment when he tripped on the cobblestone sidewalk and slammed, chest first, into the path. I could barely pick him up. At the time, whenever he fell it just freaked me out and filled me with so much anxiety. (It still does.) Luckily he fell right outside a farmacia, so we purchased some stuff to clean up the few scrapes he acquired in the fall.

After that, we went to his appointment and then immediately checked into our hotel. Covid restrictions were in effect, and I just remember walking through a mat SOAKED in sanitizer. I also remember, as we were dining in the hotel café, I made one cough, neglected to cover my mouth, and one of the servers looked at me with wide eyes and terror. What little Spanish I know does not include: “Don’t worry, I don’t have Covid. I’m not going to infect you.”

After dinner we returned to our room and were relaxing on the bed while watching whatever English television program I could find. For the life of me I don’t remember what it was. All I know was I was settling.

Charlie sat back perusing his phone and it is then that he perks up and says, “They updated my patient portal.”

“It says I have motoneuron disease.”

“What’s that?” I said, and grabbed my phone.

As I read the description provided by my google search results, every ounce of warmth drained from my body.

In a panic Charlie attempted to call the doctor, but got only his voicemail. It was 9 P.M. so it makes sense why he wouldn’t. So he shot him an email.

The two of us poured over more websites. I texted Josh and gave him the news. He read all he could.

“I hope this isn’t true,” he texted at some point.

The two of us started to cry. I snuggled up next to Charlie and held him as tight as I could. At one point, in a weird knee-jerk reaction, I ripped off my and his shirts and held him against my chest. In my death and dying class I had learned that skin-to-skin contact is the best way to heal emotional pain.

“I just want to go home,” he croaked out.

“Me too,” I had said.

We packed back up what little we had pulled from our bags and checked out. The front desk was confused but obliged. They ordered us a taxi and we waited out in the parking lot.

When we got into the car this song started. Through the entire length of our journey back to the border it played, setting the most somber note in the backseat. Neither one of us spoke. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything or even think. I knew if I put too much focus into it I would breakdown and I wasn’t about to be another statistic of some bitch sobbing in the backseat of a cab.

We crossed back over the border and hoofed it to the car in record time.

On the drive home, my husband made unnecessarily cruel calls to his sister and mother telling them his diagnosis. He delivered the news without any delicacy or social finesse. Neither of them broke down on the line, but we were later informed that both were devastated.

I drove the entire 4 hour drive home in about 3. When we got to our house we fixed ourselves some cocktails and hopped into the hot tub. We spent the rest of the night listening to music and getting unbelievably hammered.

The next night as Charlie and I sat alone in the hot tub, he looked me dead in the eye. Tears were running down his cheeks, his eyes red, as he implored me, “When the time comes, promise me you will help me go. When I’m ready.”

My throat tightened, along with my face muscles, as I hesitantly nodded my head.

When you were together with me,
That light was celestial.

What more could I ask for?
I found the happiness.

Without notice, we left our paradise,
and now your memory makes a shadow to my heart.

Today marks the month that you still don’t see me.
You went, nothing more,
You gave up on loving me,
Oh, and how you hurt!

While I think on you,
And in that I lost it,
I would like to avoid
To see me allowed me to love you,
For to lose you,
And you hurt me,
Oh, how you hurt!

The bumps on the skin,
They leave marks and after they leave.
They go, they go, they go,
But you broke me in two,
And I can’t find repair.

Without notice, we left our paradise,
And now your memory makes a shadow to my heart.

Today marks the month that you still don’t see me.
You went, nothing more,
You gave up on loving me,
Oh, and how you hurt!

While I think on you,
And in that I lost it,
I would like to avoid
To see me allowed me to love you,
For to lose you,
And you hurt me,
Oh, how you hurt!

Go to be free and to be happy.
Already give the same here.
With me is someone I knew,
It is a stranger and the pain let go.

Today marks the month that you still don’t see me.
You went, nothing more,
You gave up on loving me,
And you hurt me, you hurt, you hurt.

While I think on you and in that I lost it,
I would like to avoid
To see me allowed me to love you,

And you don’t know how you hurt,
You hurt,
You hurt,
You hurt me,
How you hurt!
https://lyricstranslate.com/en/dueles-hurt.html

The Soundtrack of My Life – 1 – Announcing a Goal

Music is truly magical for me. It can unlock my deepest emotions and bring to mind memories I had long forgotten. It’s incredible. I don’t know if many have that ability, but I do. Which is why sometimes I go through phases where I cannot bear to even listen to any music. I’m so overwhelmed with my current reality that all I am willing to listen to is spoken word (ie comedy albums, podcasts, audiobooks.) But sometimes even those can come accompanied with a euphoric recall. (Except for the book on tape “Rock your Revisions,” that just brings out agonizing anxiety.)

Like any writer worth their digital ink, I wanted to write throughout 2022. Specifically so I can hone my craft but also because I need to do things that are just for me. I need a hobby. I have to have something to alleviate the pressure inside my head. (The space in which I reside the most, by the way.)

Wanting this, I began to run through the parameters for myself. I considered writing everyday… But that is an unrealistic expectation. Life inevitably gets in the way. Especially mine. Which is why I have scaled it back to a more manageable and achievable goal, and in the end that’s how you want to do something. Therefore I thought once a week is good. In the end I will write 52 blog posts and have succeeded in completing my task.

While weekly is a more than manageable goal, the next obstacle is: what do I write about? The only thing I know more than my own imagined fantasies is my own life. I am also SUPER obsessed with myself. I mean… how could I not be? (P.S. I am kidding… Sort of.) There is nothing I love to talk about more than myself. And the topic I enjoy even more is sifting through memories.

The one thing that trauma and emotional distress has shown me is that it loves to take away my memory. My brain used to be sharp as an obsidian arrowhead but since the death of my father, my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my husbands terminal diagnosis, and fucking covid, what super brain-power I use to have has fallen by the wayside. Instead I am lucky if I can hold onto short-term tasks. It sucks. Therefore… music.

Trauma may have taken my active memory recall, as in if I try to specifically remember something specific I cannot, however music remains powerful. So, I am going to pick a song, an album, or even a mundane tune, I’ve heard over the course of my life that has attached itself to my memory and write about it. Hopefully these posts won’t be as longwinded as these last two sentences. (Good lawd.) And even on an off-day, when I can barely hold onto my sanity, I’ll use a new diddy to write about something equally undiscovered. The best part of all this: I get to share some music with you. And more than the love I have for talking about myself, and even more than reminiscing about the past, I am excited/elated/ecstatic to share a song with someone. It’s one of my weird love languages. If I send a song to you, it means it unlocked apart of me that thought of you and that will live with me forever. It can and never will be replaced/erased. It belongs to you.

Unexpected Thought Provoking Projections

Every person has that one musical artist that they identify with and call their own. Each song they sing sounds like the words from their own heart and they hold that person up as some mystical creature to be cherished. For me it’s Robbie Williams. I know, weird. I came upon him in my most formative days of my youth when I was obsessed with anything and everything British. I so badly wanted to live across the pond and when the music video of an ex-boyband, turned bad boy, showed up in a random cluster of music videos, singing about the “Millennium” I was entranced. I bought his album”The Ego has Landed” and found myself entranced by each track and even a little frightened at times to where his music was taking me. The song “Karma Killer” made me feel so uncomfortable, because it was such a departure from what I had been listening to.  It was dark and curious.

I have followed the man’s musical catalog since then. I even went online and purchased his UK only releases and a great many posters to decorate the wall of my American home with this British singer. He was a god to me. I’ve loved (almost) every one of his albums. (Rudebox was just not my cup of tea.) I have found that since he parted ways with Guy Chambers I haven’t been a slob for his music as I had once been. Now he has to really try to get me rocking out in my car.

His most recent album “The Heavy Entertainment Show” is pretty good. There a few songs that make me go, “meh” but overall I’m belting out each lyric in my car as I speed down the freeway. While I was working today, I chose that one to blare on my car speakers and there are two tracks that he wrote for his children that brought up a topic in my head I couldn’t shake.

The songs are great. The one to his daughter is “Love my Life” and is this beautiful melody that wins me every time. The one for his son is “Motherfucker.” Don’t let the title mislead you. The song is a rock-ish romp about how everyone in his family has a past where they have battled their demons. It’s really good, and it’s super fun to sing “motherfucker.”

The tracks made me realize how parents tend to project these ideas, personalities, personas, and lives onto their children. Before they have truly developed their own identity, Robbie wants his daughter to have a charmed life where she loves every facet of it. That idea in itself is strange because no one, no matter how pampered their life has been, will escape the harsh reality of “human experience.” But I understand the want for your child to find joy. We all want that. But it’s silly to think that’s even achievable.

The other song  is projecting this idea of masculinity or rebelliousness on his son. He very well may be just as rambunctious as his father but then again he may not. It’s interesting to me how he would even consider that as something his son would have to fight, but not his daughter. He even calls his wife crazy in the song as a reason his son will be a “bad motherfucker.” Shouldn’t she have the opportunity to battle the shadows of the past?

I know he meant nothing harmful in these songs. It’s beautiful that he would even write something for them. I just think it brings to light a problem we have as a society.

In addition, this notion was exacerbated for me when a friend of mine posted a set of photos that were “gender reveal” cakes. And on them were the most stereotypical ideals of what it is to be a boy or girl. One was “Lures or Lace” and another was “guns or glitter.” I like none of those things. Do I have no gender identity?

I think we as a collective look at our children to fix the mistakes that we made or expect them to not have any at all. I think it also perpetuates this idea that girls are delicate creatures that bruise at the slightest touch and boys are tough as nails and up for a fight. And it begs the question, do we grow into these stereotypes that our parents project onto us, or are we our authentic selves?

When I look at my own life, I don’t know if my parents had any kind of expectations of me. Other than me being a good person and marrying a woman and having hundreds of babies, there was nothing else they wanted of me. (Boy did I let them down.) They never forced me into sports, they always encouraged my artistic side. They let me develop as I went along.

I know that if my husband and I do adopt (which we better fucking do, goddamnit) I want to make sure they know they can be and do whatever they want. I will hold no other expectation out of them than to respect those that are around them, and to treat others with courtesy, no matter how terrible they find themselves being treated  in return.

I will say, if they don’t love Robbie like I do, I may have to disown them. However, I let my husband’s dislike of him slide. So, what’s one more under the wire?