I had arrived home.
In those very early days of late nights and early mornings, strong coffee, and the insanity of four boys reunited in life, not much stuck with me but those simple things. My focus at the time was one foot in front of the other, and breathe…one foot in front of the other, and breathe…
I remember it was cold, so cold. I couldn’t warm up, and my body hurt from the intense cold. I remember the sky was sort of that late winter hazy color. The world wanted to warm up, the sky wanted to become the vibrant blue of summer, but it just wasn’t quite there yet. The mornings were cold, the nights were colder. It snowed beautiful fat flakes at least twice. I wore a gray sweatshirt jacket my mom had loaned me. I wore it everywhere, zipped up to the neck, often times hood pulled up. I couldn’t believe the cold of those first days.
One evening while driving I heard a song that I had never heard before. The words stopped my heart. They hurt to think about, I became breathless and sad. I hate remembering that pain that rips your breath from you and takes an ax to that already huge pit in your stomach. Tears pricked my eyes and I was surrounded by this wounded song that described the very pain, the very life I had just walked out on. Not ever had there been a song that so perfectly and intensely described a moment in time.
“Say something, I’m giving up on you.”
Before I knew it I was sobbing. Tears were pouring down my face. The words were too much, the song too painful. How could one song so fiercely accompany my own personal pain?
“I am feeling so small. It was over my head, I knew nothing at all.”
Before I arrived back to my sister’s house I had gathered up what I could of myself and attempted to put it all back into place.
Later that night, the song kept ringing in my head. I finally pulled out my laptop and opened the bright screen. It hurt my eyes to look at the glaring screen in the darkness and I had to adjust to the way it made my head feel. I could feel my fingers gliding over the keys quickly typing out, youtube. Then I typed in the lyrics. The song came up and I hit play. I was again engulfed in the sadness that had nearly drown me hours earlier. I let the song play once, then twice.
Suddenly a memory, vividly crisp and clear came into my head. It’s as if I was there at that moment, not lying under a heavy load of covers that were attempting to keep me warm. I was sitting in the oversize brown chair. It held me and both boys, but often the days were too hot to sit together like that and often it was occupied by him, sitting sideways with his long legs hanging over the arm rest, his head thrown into the crook behind him. I could hear the sound of the traffic six stories below, and the food vendor calling out loudly, “AGUACATE!” at the top of his lungs. The soundtrack to my new life. He stood in the dining room. I could see him from where I sat in the chair. He was listening to a song on his iPod. I was feeling angry and frustrated and hot. The boys had been acting crazy that day and I was overwhelmed and tired, a feeling I had grown accustomed to, but never learned to like. I was angry, angry at him for all the ways I saw him checking out. On that day, he stood, in another room, avoiding both me and the boys, listening to music, not paying attention to the world around him. Life had become that way. The more I pressed into him, the more he walked the other direction, and sometimes he didn’t walk, he ran. I was alone and scared. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do with all the fear, so it turned easily into an intense and hot anger.
I could feel the anger rising in my chest, the inevitable eye roll that was coming. I was this complete stranger, someone I didn’t recognize at all, and I hated who I was becoming, but even more, I was starting to hate him. I glanced up again, and watched him with his back to me, swaying to a song I couldn’t hear, tethered to the wall by his cord, plugged faithfully in. One must never let the battery die, it might force engagement on his part.
Suddenly, he turned, and in the voice was so familiar and yet so scarily different he said, “LOVE! You gotta hear this song. It’s so beautiful and kind of haunting, but really really amazing!” His enthusiasm bothered me. The fact that he still called me love, his pet-name for me for so many years, really bothered me. After the whirlwind he’d put me through these last few months, how dare he call me LOVE? I didn’t want to listen to his song. He unplugged and brought over the little white rectangle that had become his entire life. As he perched on the edge of the huge chair and disengaged the earbud from his ear, the strains of a song came tumbling out of the small speaker, “Say something, I’m giving up on you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. Anywhere, I would have followed you. Say something I’m giving up on you.”
I pushed him away, telling him it was a horrible song. Why would he play a song like that for me? He looked at me, with those eyes that had become unrecognizable in the last few weeks, and told me he thought it was beautiful, that was all. He wandered back over to his post in the dining room, plugged back in to the wall, turned his back, and tuned the world out with his earbuds.
I didn’t finish listening to the song that day.
As I lay in the dark that night, remembering that moment, I couldn’t believe how I had missed it all. The subtle hints that turned into bigger things, all the moments he was trying to say in his own cowardly way, “I’m giving up on you.” He tried many times after that first one to make me listen to his song. I never did, not until that day, weeks later, when we were separated by an ocean. Even that physical distance couldn’t come close to the emotional distance I felt from him.
My sister informed me a few days later, when I admitted to listening to it over and over and over again while crying a lake of tears, that it was super popular. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it. I guess there wasn’t a huge market for sad, sappy, English language love songs in our loud, hot, island corner of the world.
The first time I heard it, I broke. The first few times I listened to it, it was his song to me, but the more the words became etched on my heart, the more I realized it was my song to him. Every single word of this tragic song embodied my final months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds with him.
“And I, will swallow my pride. You’re the one that I loved, now I’m saying goodbye.”
Five months have passed. Five entire months of living this alien life I don’t recognize. I still listen to the song, not nearly as often though. I can go weeks before I think of it. It has become an anthem to me, it speaks to the pain that allowed me to walk out the door, but it also has healed me in ways I never expected a song could do.
This song has become a part of my story. Every time I hear it from now on and in years to come, I know it will bring me right back to this place in time, where I will remember the tiniest things that came together to make up this season in my life.