While I was driving, this song came on. It was part of a mix my sister had made, labeled 2010 Tunage. (Coincidentally, my sister will have been abroad for two weeks in a couple of days.) If we’re going to be anal about it, Veckatimest was released in 2009, and blahblahblah. But that’s not important. What’s important is what we all know–or what we should know–about songs and music in general: which is that songs are evocative objects, and encapsulated within the space of a pop song are the moments to which they’ve provided a soundtrack or a score.
I was listening to a lot of Grizzly Bear’s earlier work when “Two Weeks” came out. I know I’m not alone in reading this album as meditations on leaving and the perils of codependency, like most of the band’s work. When Veckatimest leaked, I was at a shitty time in my life, working a shitty job which I had taken in fear that there would be no more shitty jobs left to take after I graduated. Three months into said shitty job, I quit, went on vacation for a month with what I had saved, and saw Grizzly Bear play live.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them play this song, because Mew were playing at another stage on the opposite end of the park. I like Mew. I can’t say I like them more than Grizzly Bear, but a boy I liked also liked Mew. I had a boyfriend, but this other boy was present every day, asking how my day went. And this was a time when the only consistent presence in my life was the friend whose couch I was surfing.
Being in transit tends to reduce the people you left behind, to flatten them, so maintaining any kind of contact becomes extremely relevant. It’s all you can bank on to add a dimension to someone who is otherwise just a primordial mass in cyberspace. With a backstory. I had met him at a gig about a month back, and despite living in the same time zone, we were an ocean apart. I had never believed in long distance relationships, and didn’t bother to ask at the time how he felt about it because I had a boyfriend.
There’s value to having someone ask how your day went that we tend to take for granted. I guess this song resonates so well with me because that was pretty much the last time I experienced that kind of consistency when it came to life updates. I didn’t even have to call it an update, it was just something that was so deeply embedded in my routine.
When you’re traveling though, it takes very little to call something or someone part of a routine. You’re not developing something over weeks here, but days. The mornings you stop needing to look for someone because they’re right there, a popup that’s basically waving to you from their corner of the globe–these things matter. These things tend to get magnified especially when they’re coming from unexpected corners of the globe.
This routine contained those moments where distance was rendered irrelevant by the sheer amount of miles upon miles you would have to transcend just to be within the same space, or at least occupy the same moment. I try not to think about how much room the whole concept of instant messaging gives us within which we can negotiate our relationships, because my heart might explode. We put a cap on this one, because I had a boyfriend. I had to remind myself over and over. But it did not change the fact that he showed up. What time was it in Singapore? What time was it in Chicago?
And then I missed seeing Ed Droste croon about making it easy and taking your time, because Mew were on another stage. And pop songs have a way of speaking to you and bridging these little gaps in your emotions or your heart or whatever; gaps your relationships–the ones you are allowed to acknowledge, as well as the ones you are supposed to deny–are unable to fill. I don’t regret anything, I just had to see them. I guess this is the logic behind a lot of our seemingly half-assed choices. Many of my choices came out pretty half-assed at first, but in the long run it all pays off, it just takes more time to see all of that.
Correspondence with the boy slowly and painfully trickled away for many reasons, distance only being one of them. On the other hand the boyfriend and I broke up after that summer. Similar incidents have taken place, new relationships have taken shape. I’ve come to accept that people will turn your head, but your (my?) heart is probably looking for someplace to firmly plant itself or grow roots.
I don’t usually talk about anything more infinite than what I’m going through at the moment. I like random conversations and the thrill that comes with never knowing what to expect or what’s over that hill. Maybe I trust strangers more than I should, but so far, so much good has come out of that. But at the same time, it gets exhausting having to base so much fulfillment on these fleeting experiences. While the knowledge that this is the farthest into the future anyone has ever been still comforts me, I can only take so much of being the one who leaves, or a continuation “Hopefully, in this lifetime,” It’s not called a holiday for nothing.