He must have thought I was crazy and he must not have loved it. I was dancing by myself in his kitchen while he remained seated on the couch in the living room. Maybe he was watching me but I wasn’t seeing him. I was seeing my hair – splayed gold strands of movement. I was seeing my threadbare white socks move against the tiled floor. I was seeing the places and the people I longed to see again. I was losing myself inside the song– but really, I was finding myself in a way I never could when I was just sitting and talking and trying to smile. And I was transported. And that was the important part.
He said I should think about seeing someone – someone I could talk to about these things. He said it as if it wasn’t normal to feel what I was feeling. But I think I would have to be a less conscious version of myself to not go a little crazy in anticipation of committing to living in the same city and working the same job at the same time for the same five days a week for a year or more of my life. I think that anyone who doesn’t go a little crazy before they give themselves and their freedom up to the requisites of practicality must truly be more than a little crazy.
My favorite songs were leaving songs. Both the sad ones and the ones that sounded happy to be free. I listened to them even when I was staying and I dreamed of leaving again, eventually. And when I was gone, sometimes I listened to them and dreamed of leaving where I had gone, only to return to where I had been. But still my love was the leaving. I liked the sound of movement. I liked the way the sound feels.
I went to Blois, a French chateau town in the Loire Valley, by myself for a weekend in March. I lost myself in movement and song. But really I was finding myself. But really I was transported. I walked through the chateau, experiencing the place that had played home to some of my favorite moments and characters from history. And I walked through the town, experiencing the place that was still playing home to my ideas of romance and beauty and hope and adventure and France. And I walked with songs playing in my headphones and I was in the moment and the songs were with me and it was enough. And I knew that they would hold the feeling for me long after I had boarded the train and left Blois – left, but not moved on.
I could feel hot, fresh sweat soaking the back of my friend’s shirt as I held him against me, held him up as he swayed and dipped drunkenly into me. Maybe he was a little bit crazy and maybe I liked it. We were dancing on the kitchen floor -- him and me and my brother and a couple others that I had missed all the while I had been in France. It was summer and it was my first and only night back in Chicago since I had returned from France. His hands were in my my hair, on the skin that the back of my dress left bare, on my hips that the dress was only trying to hide. He was mumbling to me about how good artists need to have their hearts broken once, twice, several times. He was telling me that it was a good idea to travel while I was young because then when I was old I could go back to those same places and remember who I had been. And I was happy enough with the way we were moving and the songs that were playing, happy enough where I was.
My brothers looked at me like I was crazy and they looked like they understood it. I was dancing in the dining room, wearing the same dress I had been wearing all week, shaking my hair in an insistent frenzy of fun. I was shouting at them to play the song again – the way I had done every night of the week. And they were obliging because they knew it wasn’t the song I wanted, it was the place it took me back to. It was the people I had loved and left behind. It was the possibilities I had once perceived. As long as that song was playing I could be transported. It could all be possible once more. It might have been a gin night or a wine night or it might have been both. And an outsider might have thought I was spiraling out of control but I was just spiraling, just moving in place – afraid of my life’s momentum and afraid of losing it.
I liked flirting with disaster because it could never let me down. I was most comfortable around other car crash prodigies – the desperately reckless types who made art and music and anything out of being broken and being called crazy and being alone and being aware of it all the damn time. They were the ones who would dance with me in a bar or in my bedroom or on the kitchen floor. They were the ones who understood what it was to need the music and the movement. When I was with them I wasn’t transported. I was just there. And that was the important part.