Wednesday, November 08, 2006


"If there's no one beside you,
when your soul embarks,
Then I will follow you into the dark."

This song has been stuck in my head today. At our morning meeting at work, the question of the day was "What is your favorite song?" These questions are meant to help us get to know each other, an old work orientation cliche, but this time, with new prospects: More than ever, those I've held dearest are absent my life, spread far and wide throughout the state and country. In past, my transient group of friends, as opposed to the longer-lasting varierty, has revolved around my current job, generally taking a good six to seven months to kick in. Hearing, every day, one more tidbit of what I have in common with people helps me to draw my hypothetical social cirlces in my mind-- a drawing that I must keep in mind will be wiped clean in a couple of days when the trainers-- who I tend to get along the best with-- leave, and I'm forced to resume the more authorative stance of working above someone more than I currently work alongside them.

Whenever I ask, in my personal life, the "favorite song" question, I am disappointed to find that 98% of people's immediate response is "Oh, I have a lot of favorites, I can't pick one." This saddens me, as, being one of the few who has a definitive favorite song, I understand that there is something about having one song that is just you, and only one. The lift you feel when you hear it is maybe a little different than the more common "Oh, I love this song"; It's a moment that feels as though it's just for you, and when you are surrounded by others who let the moment pass by without stopping to feel it, then it helps remind you of yourself, your individuality. There are things that are only for you, and here, this is one of them.


Today Zac S.-- not to be confused with Zack S. (husband)-- named Death Cab for Cutie's "I Will Follow You into the Dark", one of my recent favorites, getting it stuck in my head in a solemn joy that lasted most of the morning, and came back again that night. I found myself transported into other times in which I heard it playing: Once, in an apartment, on an ironic night, hearing it once and then again. Two distinct times that sandwiched a defining moment, and perhaps a moment that defined me as something I'd prefer not to be. The first time I heard it that night, it left me feeling determined. The second, it left me feeling...immeasurably sad, a failure, someone who's actions were inevitably guided by a deep, archaic force that leaves willpower looking like a crushed can in a gutter.


More recently, I remember laying in bed with Zack, our heads on pillows, lying on our sides and looking at each other. For some reason, I had asked him to sing to me, and he did, some song he knew, something to make me smile. Somewhere in our ensuing conversation, I was reminded of the song, and the night, and I explained to him that I could no longer listen to it without crying. He asked why and I explained it, in more detail than you're entitled to here (or rather, details that he is entitled to have fairly exclusively, details that I leave out, not out of lack of esteem for you, but for attempted respect for him.). I could see, having explained the context, that he understood, but not completely, not knowing the song the way I did, and so I sang it to him, in my broken, shaky voice, with tears streaming down my face.

"Love of mine,
Someday you will die,
But I'll be close behind;
I'll follow you into the dark.
No blinding light,
Or tunnels to gates of white,

Just our hands clasped so tight,
Waiting for the hint of a spark.

If heaven and hell decide,
That they are satisfied.
Illuminate the No's,
On their vacancy signs.
If there's no one beside you,
When your soul embarks,
Then I will follow you into the dark."


It's a simple song, with a simple melody, and a simple theme: unconditional love. What I've learned about unconditional love is this: It exists, but don't get it mixed up with the kind of love that changes as your relationship with a person does, which is more common. In my experience, these things are layered: The top layer is a blanket of ambulatory love, which changes with the seasons, running thick and thin. When thick, it's fascinating and powerful; you could swear you'd do anything for a person, move mountains, walk through fire, all the standby clich├ęs. When thin, it's maybe more comfortable; if too thin, it may not feel like love at all, maybe more like anger or disdain. Circumstances come and go, times change, and so does this vagabond devotion-- this changing tide is, more often than not, what leaves people feeling cynical about love itself.

What people don't understand, perhaps, is that under all this pulsing instability, most often, is a foundation. Hard, unmoving, steadfast and true, that rare love that truly is unconditional. So low-laying, you may not even know it's there when you've run out of the stuff up top. But, if you're lucky enough to feel it, and have it felt for you, you'll find again and again that it's the stuff that lasts, and that it can be rebuilt upon as many times as your heart can stand it. Which is a suprisingly large number.


What I believe about mine and Zack's relationship-- the husband, not the coworker-- is that we're built on a slightly thicker foundation. Maybe thing I've done, maybe things he's done, maybe things we've both done have rocked it, but the tears we've shed in our regret haven't made their way to any cracks yet, so I'll go on, unafraid to cry as I look in his eyes and sing that I will follow him into the dark.


On with it.