I've been doing a lot of sewing at work these days because if I fold, our department will run out of work. I don't get a radio signal where the sewing machine I use is located, so I've been listening to no n.p.r. and all music. In order to relieve myself of the stress of deciding what to listen to, I put my zune on the "shuffle all" setting. And because I've been such a music enthusiast my whole life, there is a memory linked to almost every song or album. Shuffling all of this music up can send me on a fairly unpredictable journey through my past.

Today my zune selected a Neil Young song that stirred my tenderest emotions toward Michael. It was the summer that I returned from Rochester, right after Luke and I decided to cancel our wedding. I was constantly anxious and unsettled. I felt little direction in life and the abrupt absence of Luke's companionship left me with an insatiable loneliness.
In his own quiet way, Michael sensed all of my discontent and made an effort to befriend me. He made small gestures at first. I remember him coming downstairs to talk with me as I moved my stuff into my old room. I was listening to Neil Young's "Unplugged." He wouldn't ask me if something was wrong directly. We never spoke in any direct way about our lives.
"Movin' your stuff in?"
"Do you just want these clothes in those drawers over there?"
"Michael, you don't have to . . ."
"Nah . . . I love putting clothes away. This Neil Young album is real good anyway."
And because it was the only music we agreed on, we listened to it together all summer. We watched "Sagwa" and "Dr. Who" and "Arthur" together. We played "Kirby's Avalanche" and "MarioKart" together.
He would draw little comics for me and bake chocolate chip cookies for us.
And no matter how much he disliked whoever I was dating, he would make an effort to get to know that person.

I didn't get it at the time, but maybe more than any male in my life, Michael has sought to protect me. And it's a little funny since I am 4 years older than him.

I continued to reflect on the time last November when I locked myself out of the apartment. I stepped outside to take out the garbage and the locking mechanism on the knob was turned the wrong way. Adam wouldn't pick up his phone. When he finally called back 2 hours later, he told me he was busy hanging out with his friend and that it would be inconvenient to come home and let me in. So I called Michael. By the time he arrived I was shivering and trying not to cry. He brought some of my mom's dinner left-overs and a game console so we could play "Kirby's Avalanche" together. He asked no questions and stayed with me until I was warm and calm.


A little while later a song from The Roots "Game Theory" came on. The lyrics go like this:
He said yeah
You better come out with your hands up
We got you surrounded
I'm in the back
Changin my outfit
He said blink
We gonna send the hounds in
I said wait
Cause here I come
Here I come
Here I come
You boys get ready
Cause here I come
Here I come
Here I come

This song is hard. Too hard for me. I remember telling Adam that I didn't really get it or what it was about. He said that it was simple; that it was all about power and feeling tough and powerful.
This song recalls vivid images for me: large, dirty footprints and smeared clumps of grass leftover from the hurried shuffles of police officers' shoes; along with scattered white pills on the kitchen floor.
As I walked back to the apartment from the Vuissa's where I called the police, this song popped into my mind. I remember thinking, "Laura, you hate this song," and replying to myself, "but you hate this situation so much too." And I rhymed it to myself over and over again, using my heart palpitations as a beat.
All of the neighbors were outside on their porches and I tried to pretend they didn't know who I was or how I was involved as I walked by their inquisitive faces. The flashing blue and red lights seemed like an unbearably embarrassing spectacle.
I peeked my head inside the front door and heard the policemen speaking to Adam. I knew he didn't see me and I ran back to the Vuissa's, still silently mouthing the words to the chorus over and over again.
In the back of my mind, I knew that Adam's suicide attempt was a last-ditch effort to seize control over his erratic life. I think he attempted to finally take power over his mind; to outrun the establishment of nurses, policemen, and doctors who would contradict him. He was intensely angry to wake up 2 days later and realize that he'd failed.

It makes sense to me now that this song entered my mind when it did.


whitney said...

beautifully written. god bless you, laura.

Marie said...

I'm so sad you went through all of that. I'm so glad you're done with it now!