Posted by: patti | October 14, 2009

Put Paper to Pen

I will grant you that my emotions are right here, on the very surface of my skin, but that does not completely explain why one of the happiest, lightest songs The Decemberists have ever recorded just made me burst into tears.

Song for Myla Goldberg” is relentlessly jangly and bouncy, and it is pure, delightful wordplay from beginning to end.  It also feels like an intensely personal song: Colin Meloy wrote it about, well, yes, about Myla Goldberg, the novelist who wrote Bee Season.

There’s no one thing about this song that makes me cry — it’s cumulative, which is the worst kind of emotional trigger.

There’s that first image, that “steady head upon her brow,” that is so deeply intimate, so knowing of a writer at work.  That very thought catches in my throat.  The Librarian wrote simple, sweet poems about me, poems that revealed and celebrated how singularly he knew – knows – me.  When you live with and love a writer, even one who hides herself away to get lost in creation, you absorb the details.  That phase of our lives, with its easy, wordless intimacy, is over.  I may have walked away from the one person who will ever know me that way.  And I will never stop grieving.

Next in the song is the absorption, the appropriation, of Myla’s novel, of her characters in Bee Season.  “Shin-kicked” Jim “relates his story.”  And the details grow and grow, following the music, and then the song and Myla and the music, they all spell out Eliza and I can’t help but burst into tears because I love my own character Sally as much as Myla loves Eliza.  If you’ve read Bee Season, you know what I mean:  affection and tenderness for Eliza stains every page of that delightful novel.

Eliza, even though “you’re waiting to grow,” “inside you’re old.”  Oh, Eliza, my Sally is the same way, and I want you to meet, just so you both could ease the pain of thinking you’re all alone, but I know if you did meet, you’d both stare at your pigeon toes.

And now, there’s that last soaring segment of the song, “But now / I know New York, I need New York / I know I need unique New York.”  And that is a new reason to cry, because I am about to leave New York, I have left New York, and oh, I need New York.

The old me (and by old me, I mean, like, last-week me) would have spent the rest of today hitting replay, sobbing with self-pity over my former life and how much writing I am not doing.  The new me, the me who is not just waiting to grow, but painfully, slowly, awfully, growing, hit replay and sat down to write.

Now I should be all right, so long as The New Pornographers’ “Go Places” doesn’t come up on shuffle.


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