Saturday, April 28, 2007


The Twilight Sad [Buy / Info]

Cold Days From The Birdhouse

I woke up last night at 11:38PM. I haven't been to sleep since. A phone-call shook me out of my sleepy reverie. The phone-call ended, the words spoken were forgotten. But before that phone-call I had a dream. An ex-best friend was getting a piggy-back from a best friend. We were at the beach, right beside the ocean. I felt the sand curl around my toes, the warmth sinking into my skin. She was up on his shoulders; they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off.

I thought I didn't understand the opening motif of this song. I heard the words but they meant nothing to me. But the voice - intimate and warm, crackling like logs upon a campfire - the voice that sang them nearly broke my heart.

I realise now that I understand what those words mean. To me, at least. "You make it your own / But this is where your arm can't go." Everytime I try to rest my arm on her shoulder it will be shrugged off. I will never comfort her the way I did, once.

At the time, I thought I was making no difference. I knew that I couldn't possibly know how she felt. I'd never experienced the physical death of a loved one. I still haven't. But I did things that I knew how to do. Writing notes, sending supportive texts, sharing emotional songs. Often there was no reply. I didn't know what she was thinking; how she was coping. I didn't know if her brave face was all smoke and mirrors; if she was actually breaking inside. Afterwards though, she wrote a short card. A thank-you. It's under my bed, in a shoe-box stuffed haphazardly with memories. The magic from my life that's been captured, like lightning in a bottle.

"Your red sky at night won't follow me now / I won't wear your shoes" Friendships can develop out of mutual respect, trust, love. Friendships can develop out of shared experiences, walking in each other's shoes, empathising.

Friendships can develop out of similar likes/dislikes, loves/hates. But I only remember the things she used to like: bands, places, books. Any new interests she develops I won't be able to discuss with her. Anything new in her life I won't know about. When there's beautiful weather in her part of the world, it won't be something we share in common; it won't be something we discuss when there's nothing left to say. Never again will we sit together on steps and find shapes in the sky - in the clouds. I won't receive post-cards from her when she's in far-away places. No more magic will be conjured or captured.

Splinters of sentences rise up in the air like smoke that won't lift. Reminders of a scar that never heals. ("another hotel", "a romantic gesture", "another phone-call.") And can you hear that steady staccato-tap of a piano key that remains constant throughout? Like the second-hand's tick on a Grandfather-clock. It's the sound of time moving steadily on. The decay of memories.

What will happen when the memories run out? When I can no longer taste her in the air, or remember the way she walked when I hear battered Converse crunch along dusty gravel. When I can no longer look out upon a village, or a lake, or a meandering road along a cliff-side; when I can no longer look upon a thatched cottage, or a delicate painting, or the flowers - the roses, and the tulips, and the daisies - in a city-park and think, "This is beautiful. She would have loved this." What happens then? Is it as if she never existed? Except for some elegant hand-writing on an old-fashioned thank-you card? Will several words of hers, regarding a time I don't remember, be all that I have left? Will I just have a scar on each of my hands - a cigarette burn; knuckles dragged along a pebble-dashed wall - from long nights wrestling with impossible choices. Will I even remember those long nights?

"I won't clip your wings." Cowardly choices dressed up as good intentions. It is only in my dreams that I reach out to her, try to pull her close again. Even if things changed, circumstances and situations, I wouldn't even know the words to say to her. I could smile. I could hold a conversation for a few seconds. But after that I'd be lost. I'd chain-smoke; I'd drink myself silly. I'd stutter; I'd trip over my words. It's hard to understand how people once so close can be so distant.

"Will you come back?" She was up on his shoulders and they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off. I think I'm grateful for this.


This song is a perfectly constructed collage of thoughts and feelings. Invigorated, emotional, achingly beautiful. The sadness of life. The difficult decisions, the failed friendships, the silent betrayals. The need to keep moving on. The steady piano key... Even the slide-guitar that opens the song signals change. "You won't follow me now." [Buy / Info]

1 comment:

cody said...

this is a beautiful, tender, and provoking post. unfortunately i doubt it'll do you much good, just whatever solace you find within yourself. i wish i knew the answers to your questions, for both our sakes and for all the others, but i don't. still, when i read things like this, or hear songs like these, i like to think the answers are hidden here somewhere. anyway, thanks for this.