Secret Pop

Dec 21, 2013

The music. There it is. The music.

On my way to Beulah's house today, I had some time to kill, so I took the longer route. A jaunt into Carmel Mountain Ranch, passing my parents' old house, where I lived right after college, and then the nearby neighborhood where I had an apartment for a few years. Some things have changed, certainly. But it's largely the same. And it all ends up being -- to me at least -- mostly a series of markers of points in my past where I felt either wonderful or terrible. I've decided it's the amplitude. The peak-to-peak. It's not how happy you ever were or how sad. It's the difference between how happy and how sad you were. (Way to make everything about math, Mary.) This is the geography of the times in my adult life when I was the very most happy and the very most sad. So the distance from peak to peak is the greatest. I've certainly had other periods of great sadness. Perhaps even deeper than any of the San Diego days. But during those seasons, the happy highs weren't as high. And I'm certain I must have had happier times, as well. But the saddest points in those spells were never so low. It's the times when the extremes were the furthest from each other that leave the most lasting and colorful bruises.

I'm beginning to think that the reason I thought I was so happy back then is that I knew who I was. I wasn't anything so amazing, and I'm certainly prouder of my accomplishments since. But at that time, I wasn't wracked with angst over what was to become of me. I am loathe to admit it, but I think the drearily commonplace reason for that is that I belonged to someone.

We're watching Toy Story 2, which I have seen easily 40 times in the past month, on account of we watched all of the Toy Story movies repeatedly on in-room pay-per-view when Beulah and Stellan and I were vacationing at the Kahala last month. It's a long story. Well, no. That's pretty much the whole story. Anyway, it was very expensive.

So, we're watching Toy Story 2 now, as Beulah is making Beef Stroganoff and Stellan is nibbling on cucumbers, and the only reason it matters is that this whole ongoing theme of the toys having no purpose unless there's someone to own them, well, it always hits a little close to home. There was an apr├Ęs break-up period when I couldn't even watch the Jessie reminiscence montage with the Sarah McLachlan song, lest I burst into sobs or write another check to the ASPCA. Some of us are just like those toys, waiting for someone to choose us -- to love us and play with us and write their name on the bottom of our shoe. I presume some of us are like that. Otherwise I feel especially pathetic and lame writing about it.

Side note: Having something to look forward to -- and having some sense of what that something would be -- was also an intoxicating elixir. Whenever it was present. There's something about knowing what to expect that makes one feel vaguely godlike. Where uncertainty may invigorate and entice certain people, for me it is as salt on a slug.

Don't misunderstand me. It's not about being in a relationship. Although it often seems like that's the answer. It's actually about having someone to answer to. I would point at this if asked for the greatest flaw in my personality matrix. I'm very good at doing things for others. I'm actually exceptional at it. But I'm terrible about doing things just for me, unless there's at least ancillarily a way I can attribute it to pleasing someone else. In the past few years, I have really made an effort to step out on my own. That's probably where the confusion comes from. The more I strive to not be accountable to anyone, the less I know what to do with myself. I'm the bird that doesn't go anywhere when you leave the cage door ajar.

Sometimes it feels as if there's something I've lost and need to get back. And I'm a bit out of sorts at the prospect that this is just how it's going to feel for the rest of forever.