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Monday, January 25, 2010

The Strings Songs, Part I

A term brashly borrow from John Green's Paper Towns, the strings are what attach our emotions and our aspirations, the things that connect the heart with the body and the soul and the mind. And I think for most people, the thing that tugs on the strings most often is music. You must know some songs like that. I have some songs like that. This is part one.

The first time I ever heard this song, Kate's boyfriend was playing guitar for a group of people outside his mirror for the first time, and this explosive personality was suddenly so shy, and I realized just how vulnerable music-making is. The risk inherent in personal expression through art. I've also always connected this song with the moment I realized Kate was going away to college. It's funny, that the actual song has so little to do with Kate, but that it reminds me of her without fail, and it's one of my favorite songs of all time, so, I think of her often. Beyond that, it's just an excellent song, a lyrical story with a catching melody. Proof something good came out of the 90's.

One of the Youtube commenters on this video has it right for once, "It never fails to uplift this weary heart." I have these bouts of intense confusion where I feel incapacitated and unable to sort anything to rights, and whenever that happens, I turn on this song. It reminds me that God is God and of Him I am sure. All understanding and revelation comes from Him, all cures to confusion, and I'm not expected to sort it out on my own. My duty is merely to trust. There is nothing lovelier than the "ah-hah" moment where, "The sky is clear as my mind is now, I was a long, long way off." I love this song for telling me it's okay to be happy, even when I don't understand.

I used to get so irritated over the tiniest little things, hung up on insignificant details, so angry over things that didn't matter . . . and, I know I promised not to say "I used to" because to an extent this is still one of my vices, but I associate this song with the freedom from that feeling. Also, this song reminds me of such a funny stage in my development, a limbo period in my life when I first entered youth group and started GCT and wasn't even involved in NCFCA yet, when I was a total nerd on a ZOEgirl forum, which, by the way, a certain NCFCAer was a part of, too! And now I think of the crowded, deafening darkness of the Paradise Rock club in Boston, sighing at the awkwardness of encores, willing Switchfoot to play "Daisy" and being convinced that there's no way they would, just as the opening chords started humming through the speakers!

This is less laden with pictorial memories, and more intense self-indulgent feelings. Sitting on the hammock in Hannah's backyard singing at the top of our lungs, "I am a bird, wearing a brown polyester shiiiiiirt!" Collectively pondering over the process of getting older. Nursing my Peter Pan complex. And while I think I've come to terms with that fact that this stage in my life will inevitably end, and that growing up will be bittersweet, this song evokes a powerful and weird feeling from when I was so melancholy about getting older. It's a song that reminds me of the summertime, of that satisfying pit in my stomach of nostalgia and anticipation, and the thrill of mix CDs.

For all the times I fail and for all the times I don't understand, there is tremendous praise and comfort in the fact that this, too, shall be made right. For so long I've been asking, "Why me?" To quote the Louisiana Hannah, "I don't say I'm blessed just to sound good." There is so much that is unfair, and I feel so guilty that I am so, so blessed. But all that is a lie and all that is confusion and all that is wrong, this too shall be made right. Emily a.k.a. "Mom" was the first person to show me how to live with anticipation for the end of this world, seeing everything in the scope of eternity, when the righting of all wrongs will bring glory to the King. This is such a simple little song, but it takes such a bitter subject and shows just how much joy is laden in the most horrible realities.

In an instant I can taste cherry flavored zinc lozenges and smell the wind on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and feel the marble floor of Regent University's library and hear Michael commenting, "This is such a bar pick up song!" I think of sitting outside of a Starbucks next to the river walk in Colorado, I think of walking through the wet autumn air in Irvington, and standing barefoot on the grass in Reading, I think of pacing in circles to my iPod in those wretched orange and black halls in Fitchburg, I think of ridiculous Nationals after-parties, I think of early morning and late night car rides with their sunrises and anticipation and traffic jams and contentedness. It's my quintessential NCFCA memories song, a song that marries a plethora of experiences with a confusing jumble of internalized happiness.

I'm not sure how to conclude this self-indulgent list, part one. I find so much joy in feeling, and especially in remembering.

4 comments:

Micah E. said...

I think this "self indulgent list" is wonderful, really wonderful. I want to make a list.

You've read Paper Towns! Is it worth reading?

Art said...

Hayley, I want to write and feel and remember like you. (I was going to add "when I grow up" but that seems meaningless: either I already have or I never will)

justin said...

NO NO NONO NO NO NO NO
no you dont get to make fun of 90s music

NO
90s were amazing musicly, youre just focusing on the wrong stuff

Hayley said...

Cool it, bro. I loved the 90s! It's the stuff I grew up on!