Looking back to my stone age, when I was still married and we were going through those final days, standing in the middle of the dining room and this song by Joni Mitchel came on the radio and it had me mesmerized, captured within the words.
Ever since I have tested myself against that song, it’s appeal, those manipulated memories give me a sort of measuring stick in which to gauge my progress out of the stagnation of those dreary days of regret. Of not being something I could never be, and all the domesticity that marriage pins its hopes on. I was lost, and yes, clouds got in the way.
His clouds, to be sure, but they became my clouds.
Since those last days of 1999, on my way out of those clouds back to the earth, this sense of self not seen quite this way since I was around six years old.
They block the view, create hazy mirages of my memories, and off we are into the lands of despair, fighting those mighty Knights of yesteryear. We become trapped in that cycle, and forget our way to home. I remember how difficult it was back then to see a way, anyway, but his way.
Experience is always the best teacher if one can recognize the learnings inherent in our mistakes.
“don’t give yourself away”
That was what she had said, I now recall, from those Lana Del Ray days of Love, and youth, and consequence. How could I have forgotten? I’d remembered it, but only half of it, not all it, just the message of, or what I thought was the message at the time. Past the clouds I now see. Don’t give yourself away, she had said, and then always keep some of yourself back, she added, and the only part I had remembered. Which over time seemed like she was telling me to be remote, removed, holding tight to my love.
How music does unclog our memories, as we drag bits and pieces of ourselves back from the abyss, forgetting their context, until such time as we are ready to see past clouds to the blue skies that lay beyond, and, maybe, none of us really know love at all.
That song always has reminded me of being young, and we must have heard it on the radio, playing through the window as someone splashed away outside. I believe it was different for her, maybe at that place where so many arrive after a few years of marriage, wondering what love really is, and how to keep it – or perhaps it is just illusion. Just clouds, determining the weather of our days and lonely nights.
I know intimately that path out of the trees, the clouds part, and there beyond the rays of the sun beat down upon us, giving our steps a new rhythm, a purpose, forward.
They get in the way, clouds, they force us to check our path and take careful notice of things we would otherwise miss, casting shadows and light upon the earth. If not their purpose, certainly the possible result of paying attention, and looking closer. Of silver linings and stormy days, and to not give yourself away.
She was talking about our sense of value, I see, now.
Ok, so backstory is that someone had clicked on that old post from 2013, back on one of those Merry Maudlin Monday’s and so I clicked too, and once again the lyrics of that song brought me a new revelation. I see that THAT is what she meant.
I was there, again, at the moment with her.
I closed my eyes, and I could see her turn around, we were in her bedroom and she was saying the lyrics back to me, as the strains of Joni came through the open window. She imparted her wisdom. This nugget that I would hold with me, the bit I remembered, until such time as I could see through those clouds, past their illusions towards my own worth, and to never undervalue it, was what she meant. It was so clear, and for that one brief spec of time I was right there, and I just hear that song, and that is why it stopped me cold on that November day in 1999, and two years later she would be gone.
She knew me, how easily I give myself away, how fluttery I could be, undervaluing my worth, if I thought of it at all. Hold back something of yourself, Paula, she had said, so as to have a bit to bargain with, I see now.