Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Love For Us Mere Mortals

I had such plans to for writing today. Yeah, yeah, I know, the day isn't over. But, it does seem gone to me. I have been finding a variety of ways to procrastinate today and so I changed the light bulbs in my home office. While I was doing that, one of Lucinda William's songs, "Right in Time," queued up on iTunes and started playing. It is a haunting piece of music and reminds you of the rush of passion and intensity you feel at the beginning of a relationship or throughout one of those stormy, passion-filled fucked up relationships that seem to dominate our twenties. I was far more attached to these type of songs when I was younger and still longing for earth-shattering love; that was when I still believed you would find someone who fills you with that intense longing forever.

When I was early in my graduate career, I was dating a troubled, dark and very handsome man named Jimmy. He was as complicated as they get. Needless to say the sex was fantastic. On the other hand, we fought all of the time and about anything and everything. I wasn't above demanding he stop the car so I could get out, and slam the door, shake my mane, and strut up up the block to sit, forlorn, with my journal and Heidegger's Being in Time in some cafe (we were living in Oakland for the summer taking German together at Berkeley). I was an emotional wreck that summer. Everything felt so intense and urgent.

Then, one night, I walked into the living room of the house Jimmy and I were renting a room from. My landlady was stoned, listening to Billie Holiday, and started asking me why I was so high strung. I started telling her about all of my problems with Jimmy. She listened patiently and smiled sweetly (I know, she was stoned). Anyway, she finally turned toward me to tell me a story about this artist she was dating way back in the 60's (I told you we were in Oakland, right?) She sort of drifted off into her thoughts for a moment, and then said: "Arists . . .God, it's always the best sex, but zero potential for a real relationship."

I didn't want to hear that. I had to believe that whatever was wrong between Jimmy and me, we could fix it. Our intense passion for each other had to be enough. But, I knew she was right. I knew it right then. But, I didn't leave Jimmy for another 6 months. I finally did because I broke my arm sliding across our floor to catch the phone. The floor was still wet from his incessant mopping. I was in a great deal of physcial pain and he just yelled at me that he had to get to work and he was taking the car, so I better stop crying. It was time to go.

So, I hear this Lucinda Williams song and I am only slightly moved by her passion and longing. The song is incredibly beautiful. And, I think everyone has felt this kind of delicious rawness. But, then we move on and start to build a real relationship with someone. And, the soundtrack for that is something much more like the charming piano man playing in Nordstrom's Lobby. Bright, balanced, a little glitz now and again, but nothing too dark.

I started thinking about what it takes to continually write the songs that Lucinda Williams writes. It takes a willingness to stay longer or return to those painful and intense romances that end with emotional, if not physical, bruises. I am not an artist. I am just unwilling to take myself there emotionally again and again. I would rather remember those feelings nostalgically and then go back to crawling up next to Za, giggling under the sheets as we start talking in our ridiculous made-up language, and arguing over whether or not we'll watch the Prisoner or The L word.

That is love for us mere mortals.