Secret Pop

Apr 8, 2004

I Get Weak

So many secrets are best kept. When I want the truth -- when I puff up and defy reality -- when I smirk and say, "Do your worst!" -- I am usually operating on false valor. I am usually asking for revelations because I believe I have foreknowledge. Because I think I know what to expect. Because I am certain that I will not be surprised. Or undone. If archaeologists discovered something today that turned everything we know of history on its ear, we would reject it, wouldn't we? At first? We would carry on, assured that we know how things are and should be. We would let the past lie quietly in its grave. We would put it away and wash our hands of it. It's easier. Easier than republishing the textbooks and relearning the periodic table and replacing all those bumper stickers.

It's like that with me. Everything is steady until it isn't. And for so long now, I feel as if I have been sitting on a barstool with one short leg. Wobbling precariously on a lumpy tile floor in a sticky, dim bar where I would prefer not to have to touch anything. Even if only to steady myself. I've been teetering. And it upsets my motion sickness.

I don't really know anything new today. And yet every day holds the promise and the risk of everything I know becoming everything that is no longer true. Every day may be the day my history becomes fiction. The day my edition becomes outdated. Every day that I am outside, the things going on inside exclude me. They threaten to erase me altogether. That's part of why I fear staying away for too long. Eventually, I will become a face in memory. The sound of my voice will be replaced by the sound of someone else mimicking me. Until the mimicking stops and I am lost altogether. I have always been good at keeping in touch. Maybe this is why. And maybe the times when I have been less good at it can be grouped together as times when I would prefer to have disappeared. Or when I was being remembered sufficiently by the audience on whom I placed the greatest value. I have compromised my widespread celebrity with wasteful private performances. And yet they have been my favorite performances. The ones of which I was most proud. Were always the ones where nearly no one was watching.

I think of it like Back to the Future. When someone or something goes and monkeys with the past, I begin to fade from the future. I begin to dematerialize. I get all see-through in the photographs. When the history changes, everything does.

There's plenty in my history that I wouldn't mind rewriting. But, as with nearly everything, you never get to choose what goes and what stays. I might change a hairdo. I might change a prom date. But it wouldn't be up to me. And there's the rub.

May the gods forgive a Belinda Carlisle reference at this wee hour. Even the strongest among us can be trounced by pop song love when sleepy sentiment sets in.

No comments: