I’m putting together an audiobiography. That’s what I call it. It’s really just a long list of songs that take me back to a breathless, exacting moment of my past. And when I’m working on it, I often decide some of the music does not precisely bring me to a particular memory, so I have to delete it. It feels tragic, like when you write the perfect sentence but know it has no place in your story. Not all of the music is good– some of it might be considered embarrassing. And I can’t spend too much time on it. It involves a lot of listening and painful crying jags. I can’t explain much of it anyway. It’s long. But the crying jags, well, the music and memories are too visceral. Like,
Like when I hear Fire and Rain and shiver,
because I took out a quarter and put it on in that diner off of Route 55 upstate,
and Chris started to sob right there at the table,
and talk about walking across the Brooklyn Bridge as the city burned,
and his nightmares, and his girlfriend who walked out.
Or when the piano of Brick begins
and I’m in eighth grade, and all of us are dancing in skirts and dress slacks,
slow-motion, arms stretching fake ballroom gestures
and the way I stare off at the boys
who have their hands slinked into girls’ palms.
I remember my father strumming For What it’s Worth
on his old acoustic guitar in the living room,
my brother and I on the shiny hardwood floor
singing with him, and watching with adoration.
One of my freshman roommates has woken up (it’s 5:30am)
for crew practice, and I am still awake,
blinking back tears of exhaustion, staring at the computer screen,
listening to Sing a Song for You,
the lights shimmering off in the distance,
lying and pretending I can see Boston from my room.
My parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle surrounding me in a fog,
someone put My My, Hey Hey on,
and somehow we are all drunk and smoked too much
sweet, sticky hookah mixed with pot,
and we’re all singing along, slowly, thoughtfully,
but I never want to hear the line
“once you’re gone, you can’t come back” whispered like that again.
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us
is playing from the laptop on my desk,
and my college boyfriend is on top of me,
stroking my face, fingers in my hair,
breathing heavily into my mouth, but I can’t come because
I am too much in love with him to do anything but feel my heart collapse.