Monday, October 13, 2008

must be worth losing if it is worth something

There's dough rising in the kitchen, butter softening on the countertop for an undecided purpose. It will come to me, as it did the other day, when I decided I had been making entirely too many short, stout, plump cookies. Sometimes, you just want a thin, crispy-yet-chewy cookie. And that's how I wound up with these:

honey, we won't say a word

They taste better than they look, and are nearly the size of a palm. The trick was honey, and not too much sugar.


But, this blog used to be about music and other things, once upon a time. And as my MacBook Pro is on the verge of being sent to Applecare (don't even get me started on that), I've been sifting through old music on my PC.

I don't know if this ever happens to anyone else, but there are some songs that I find really difficult to hear. And I'm not talking about hard to hear as in William Hung hard to hear. No, these are great songs. These are songs I allegedly adore. But I got too close to them, and now I find it hard to come near them again.

A part of me hopes this will never happen to a song again, and a part of me hopes that it will. The song that wandered into my old iTunes library today that sparked all of this is Tear In Your Hand by Tori Amos. Even though I'll be the first to admit that Tori Amos can be batsh*t crazy, and her lyrics are at times absolutely incomprehensible, her first album, Little Earthquakes is still on my list of all-time favorites. But I can't really listen to much of it, especially this particular song.

It starts out, right from the beginning, with such bitterness, humor, and heartbreak all wrapped up into the opening lines, which include the absurd and yet perfectly captured lyrics- I don't believe you're leaving because me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream.

Weird though. You listen to a song, it seems pleasant enough, well enough said. And then something happens, and the song suddenly snaps into some new crevice in your brain, and all of a sudden, it fits. It says everything you can't say, it captures everything you don't know how to explain, explains your own feelings to you. Oh so many years ago now, Tear In Your Hand did that for me. I had that crazy album since high school, and I liked it, liked how it seemed to be about outsiders, seemed to be about not being understood. What adolescent can't appreciate that?

But then, there was the moment, and after the moment, suddenly this song was just a little too sharp, a little too crisp around the edges, a little too clear a focus. It hurt to hear it. It doesn't quite hurt anymore, doesn't hit me in the gut the way it used to. But I still find myself catching my breath, getting flooded by memories.

It's not really about what caused the hurt, because they were the usual, universal things. It's about how I felt, that's what I still find halting. That dizzy swirl of casually playing down the significance of it all, the doubts to what brought the end about, doubts of what is given as a reason versus what you believe the reason to be, the disappointment of thinking you were seen when really you weren't, and the crazed, bloodied badge of hurt that you carry when you first allow yourself to be this vulnerable. All of it comes together and, sure, some of the song makes no sense, but then again, some of you doesn't make sense at that moment. It doesn't have to make sense, it just fits.

I hate that it does, after all of these years, and yet I love that it does. You'll notice, if you listen for it, that Amos is practically bragging: all the world is dangling, dangling, dangling for me, darling- you don't know the power that you have with that tear in your hand. I like to think that meant, even should it all go awry, unrequited or turn out to be undeserved, the power was, and is, in the offering.

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