Monday, December 04, 2006

Listening to The Cure's Disintegration While Driving On Imperial Highway Between Brea and Anaheim on the Fourth of July, 1989

Early in the high wind night of the Fourth of July, 1989, I heard a plain song wafting over the squat hills of a suburban town. It was a gracious town of lived-in ardor and unhappy families and some happy ones too, maybe. I rode, in a plain blue car, hearing the plain song drifting now, riding up on its spent melody, repeating its ache for the fourth time, for the fifth, time, for the...

Miles later, I heard another song, this one coming from my own place, from the inside of my plain blue car, this plain song writhing, inching in on its own spent melody, repeating its own ache, for the seventh time, for the eighth time, and then I think I see something and then I don't see it anymore and then I do and then I don't and for the ninth and final time the ache is repeated and this time it gets to me, the song, that is.

I'm back now, by the squat hills of the small town. I am not driving in circles. Rather, it’s a straight line, back and forth, the same cities, the same scenes, back, forth, forth, back. And the fireworks start. I stop the car, at the highest squat hill and a third plain song comes on the car stereo, this song unblinkingly plain in its earnest desolation, a silence almost. The colors are majestic, the colors are high, the booming is majestic. I have the best view, I do, and I am alone. The third song rejects melody for something more real and revels in its own sunken dread and hopeless longing, for the first and only time, but a long time at that. The fireworks build to a sad crescendo and die in a flight of shamed light and spangled glory. I drive away from the prone town’s highest squat hill and find myself back on the straight line road, listening to a singer’s memories of bad love.

Still, back and forth, straight line, fireworks done in all directions and one of two homes to go back to, one more than most. I think of where it would be best to sleep tonight. I consider the factors: my hunger or lack of it, the weather tonight, the weather tomorrow, the book I'm reading, whom I can talk to and where, the lateness of the hour, the sense of space, and of course none of it is enough to remind me that the singer is anything but sickly sad at the plight of a steep plummet into something destructive. And if this is what’s happening to the singer, or if this is what has happened to the singer, then what does it matter where I sleep tonight? I think, I have two places to go, one more than most, two more than some, and this is a blessing.

I wish I had a circle to drive between the two places and not the same old straight line. That would give me more of a sense of purpose. As it was, I felt like I was imposing too much on the one long road and the three towns, two of them small, one of them medium. My sense of imposition circles inside my brain until the moment right before my revelation, that this song, the last song, was the one that truly got to me. The one that truly broke my spell of knowing why I was traveling the same road, stuck with the same nothing decision, staining the same part of my brain.

I was out now, out of the dense fragmentation that the night and the music and the fireworks and the road made for me. I was finally free and now I would sleep. Of course, I am closer to one of the two places than the other and that would be where I would sleep tonight if not for one thing. That I now want to sink myself into that song, back in that elevated little spot I stopped at to watch the fireworks. So I take myself there. I open all the windows. I turn off my headlights and find the song on the tape again and listen closely this time, to the words and whispers between the words, to the way the tail end of one long moan became the premise for the next high tumble. This was what I was looking for all the time. Little did I know it wouldn’t always be so easy, this easy, to locate the one song or word or person or thing that it would take. And the song, most definitely not a plain one, roars into its unspent and open melody for the first time and I almost cry, for the second time and I do cry, for the...

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