/You wanna light it now, the candle from both ends/

This song came on while I was eating by myself at a restaurant up the street from my house earlier today. I was reading Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and it struck me that I have the opposite sentiment in my heart right now. I miss being lonely. I am having an instinct to narrativize here that I want to fight. 

This is a song I listened to on loop at least 20 times per day back in October when I walked off some kind of existential cliff and my whole life changed.

I think so much of contemporary indie music is designed to induce nostalgia in millennials like me. This song is no exception. Something about its clappy beat and the almost echoing voice of Nathan Willett with an endlessly melodic chorus {what the fuck is a melodic chorus? I am not a music writer I do not know what I am saying} makes me feel like all former parts of myself are irretrievable and endlessly far away. All that build up and catharsis with a beat. It’s so accessible, so easy to love, so reminiscent of simplicity a lot of us long for. Who is us? Who am I even trying to speak for? And, to be clear, I’m not using this as a negative critique of indie music. I think it is quite successful at its heart string tugging.

When I first heard this song in the fall, I was crushing on a new person and I would ride my bike to work with this song on loop and I would feel like everything was possible. That is one of the moods I get in some times.

Another mood I get in is the one I am in today where I remember those other moods and feel far away from them and far away from myself. Songs like this suddenly surprising me at a solo dinner in the late afternoon sun push me down into some undercurrent where I experience this flood of memories, some distant, some only a few months ago. A memory of two of my high school best friends and I lying on the hood of one of their cars in my driveway late at night when I was still a teenager, Red Hot Chili Peppers playing from the car speakers into the dark summer air. A memory of driving through Hollywood just this past November, so thrilled with the weather and everything new.

A few weeks ago I woke up and saw a photo I had posted on facebook four years ago. A photo of my friends at the Spiral Jetty in Utah. I loved very different people then than I do now. Like romantic loved. People I haven’t thought of that way in years. This year has been a mess of romance in mostly good ways. But when I saw that photo it had the same effect on me as hearing “First” in this restaurant tonight. Like I turned around and found that behind me wasn’t the road I’d been walking on but instead was just a gigantic canyon filled with silence and wind.

That day a few weeks ago with the old photo and my feeling lost, I texted a few friends and told them I felt far from myself. Asked them to tell me something true. They all responded so differently. It grounded me again for a while. Helped me write through the beginning of this essay collection I’m working on.

What I am I trying to say?

I was supposed to go home to Colorado today and I woke up this morning and just thought, nope, I can’t do that right now, not today. So I stayed in bed till 2:30pm with my indecision. Eventually went to get dinner. Then to Griffith Observatory so I could see this whole city at once. Decided I can’t leave tomorrow either. Decided I’m not sure if I can leave at all.

Today, for this moment, home feels like 51% Los Angeles, 49% Colorado. This has never happened before. It hurts me to write it. Tomorrow it’ll probably be untrue. When will I not be torn in half, is what I’m trying to figure out. There’s that Seneca quote that is the epigraph for Melissa Broder’s So Sad Today: “If we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago.”

There’s a thing that happens when you’re trying to reveal yourself to someone new. A desire to show all of yourself quickly, to be seen, but time and language don’t work like this. We cannot transfer ourselves, our hearts, our histories to others through telepathy or sheer will. We have to arrange everything into language. Everything becomes a story. For me: The story of how I am always and never home. The story of what music I love and why. The story of how I have sometimes always been sad. The story of the people I love.

I think this is part of why I write. Because I hate the idea of these slippery memories just floating around inside me. When they fly past, I want to pin them down, like dead butterflies, I want to taxonomize them, show them in a very particular kind of frame. I don’t want them running around like hungry wolves. I want to control them. Reify them. I don’t want that memory of my ex driving me home from the Wilco concert in the dark, me looking out the window at the stars knowing our forever was impossible, to just sneak up on me, knock me down while I’m eating dinner, while I’m walking to the store, while I’m at a party with a new love.

I want to be safe from the things that made me. And I also want them readily accessible. That way maybe they won’t feel so far. I recently wrote an essay about my grandmother, and since then she has felt much less inaccessible, because I know she is present in what I wrote about her. The problem becomes, however, that she now fits so perfectly in the words I built for her that any other possibility of how I might remember her is going to slowly dissolve. Once I capture a thing in language, it becomes static and the rest of what I don’t report falls away.

I don’t know why I’m not ready to leave LA yet, but I have a feeling its because I need, for awhile, to exist in an invisible limbo of not really being here, always poised to leave, and not really being home in Colorado. I need to be nowhere for a second so I can remember how to be anywhere.

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