Thursday, November 16, 2006

still building and burning down love

Last night, driving to the gym, I caught U2 performing on KFOG's Live from the Archives. Even though radio stations around here generally stink, I still prefer the radio to anything else when I am driving. Something about the unpredictability of it and my short-attention span channel-changing appeals to me when I am on the road. When I used to drive from New Jersey to EBF, a 5-6 hour drive, I would pass through some patches where the only radio stations were country, but that just helped me to mark the distance I was passing, bringing me closer to my destination.

When I first caught U2 on KFOG, they were playing Mysterious Ways. Not my favorite song, but since I called a moratorium on Achtung Baby for a long while, it was nice to hear it after all these years. The line if you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel never fails to evacuate the air from my lungs for a nanosecond. Next came All I Want is You, and I could not believe my luck (though I could not stop myself from considering the tragedy that the first time that song was used for dramatic purposes, it was in such a mediocre film). Bono might be a bombastic jacka$$, but the dude could write a song back in the day.

In the parking lot of the gym, just as I was pulling into a space, my heart just stopped. It only took about two seconds of a guitar intro to do me in. There was nothing to do but sit there in the darkness, listening. I have heard the song a million times. And yet, I may as well have been glued to the driver's seat.
    if you twist and turn away
    if you tear yourself in two again

And that is really all it took. Just a little guitar and two lines of a song, and I was floored. I cannot explain it properly, of course. The song is supposedly about drug addiction, and I have never struggled with that and have never known anyone struggling with that. As usual, I have probably completely misappropriated it for some other purpose. The problem is, I cannot even place it to a single person, a single event, a single anything. It is not a memory so much as a feeling. And I sit there in the darkness with it, trying to breathe, stunned by how this song still gets to me.

It was nothing a flailing run could not fix, but if I am being perfectly honest, I love feeling that way. One of the reasons I am so fond of music is that it can be that powerful, that it can stop you from all the banalities of the day and command your attention. And even though I have nothing specifically for which to feel melancholy, I must admit that a good dip into a pool of bad memories is sometimes just what I need. Because they are not really bad memories, they are bad feelings. And I prefer feeling sad over feeling numb.

Of course, I will take feeling happy over both. And that is just what I will be when I see my friend MM tonight, one of two friends I have retained from my university years. A week ago, when she told me she was going to be in town again and urged me to meet her for dinner, she casually included the news that she is 7 months pregnant. Difficult to fathom that a girl that once burst into tears because she thought two guys were cheating against us at a game of Euchre will be a mother in just a few months.

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