Monday, May 20, 2013

but gravity always wins

there are two giant storage bins in my father's basement, and every time i come to kingston - which is where i'm from, and where my family still lives - i have the compulsive urge to sort through them.

see, these two bins hold all the detritus and memories from my twenties -- they're where i stored everything extra that i decided i didn't need when i moved to vancouver in 2007, but i wanted to keep anyway. and because i'm entirely a creature of nostalgia, i almost always want to examine the stuff i've kept preserved in there.

let's take a look!

the remainder of my meagre vinyl collection.  i used to own a turntable and a very nice pair of speakers, but i bequeathed all of it - along with a number of records from the days when i'd go lose my mind in rotate this - to one of my friends before i moved to vancouver in '07.  however, for some reason, these are the records i hung on to, and it's a pretty motley collection, as you can see.  (the moist "push" vinyl is purple, though, which i enjoyed)

a whole vinyl of derrick l. carter's "kennedy" dub mixes.  i can't even remember where i got this.  (maybe kill hannah's first toronto show?)

"somebody told me" mixes.  i don't even know, man.

once upon a time (read: mid-to-late adolescence), i thought i might be able to be a guitar player.  this is what i relied upon.  you can see why i didn't get very far with this dream.

t-shirts!  glorious t-shirts.  i never actually wore the one on the far left (i won it on ebay because autographs omfg) nor the "black black heart" tank top (i have never, ever been able to wear babydoll tops, mostly because of my non-existent boobs and monstrous shoulders), but the black "all your sex and your diamonds" sleeveless shirt was basically the only thing i wore that year of high school, despite my mother thinking i would be sent home to change because it had the word "sex" on it.  the moist t-shirt at the very top was something i tried to pull off and failed numerous times, mostly because it was so small on my teenage self that it was basically a belly top, and i was not very small as a teenager.

album after album crammed full of photographs.  a lot of them are neatly marked with the show date and location, and some of them are just stuffed into envelopes and blank pages, but man, this was one of the gut-punches.

yes, i kept empty water bottles that got hurled from the stage.  these are from two kill hannah shows -- the one on the right was my first time seeing them live (in detroit back in late summer 2004), and the one on the left was from their show here in toronto at the phoenix in fall 2009, i believe.  mostly included this for the absurdity that is me keeping water bottles as souvenirs of my wayward past.  water bottles.  i am a weirdo.

...but if it's absurd souvenirs you want, look no further than these three envelopes. they're completely full of everything from ticket stubs to wristbands to laminate passes. there's bus tickets and plane tickets and random receipts for random purchases across america. gig flyers and handbills and stickers and posters torn off of venue walls. there's a brochure from a greyhound station in philadelphia where i had to abandon tour with my then-boyfriend because i had basically gone missing in toronto for a week and my then-roommate was about to call the cops. there's a baggage claim stub from a flight i took from los angeles to toronto when i felt like my heart was collapsing somewhere over colorado and nebraska. there are used guitar picks, and broken drumsticks, and autographed setlists that have been crumpled and creased a dozen times over.

back in the day, i couldn't have told you why i wanted to save all this stuff; now, in retrospect, i can probably say it's because i wanted to prick the heart of my present-day self with shards of broken glass. but i guess that's the cynic's way of looking at it; really, i wanted to have something to jog my memory, to prove to myself that it wasn't all just some fever dream or something i watched on tv once. it was real. it was my life, and it was the only thing i wanted.

so here's the part i'd rather be vague about: i was looking for something specific, this time.

two things, actually -- one i knew would be there (it was a photograph) and one i wasn't sure existed but felt in my heart of hearts that it did (if it did, it would be in the form of a magazine clipping). i found the photograph easily enough - it was stuck in between the vinyl and the guitar tab books - and i actually took the time to look at it for once. i looked at the guilty smile on his face and the sadness in his eyes, and i exhaled slowly. no more ghosts there. i put the photograph away, back where i'd buried it when i was twenty-three and unsure of everything.

as for the second thing - the intangible - i rifled through the clippings i had safely tucked away in a large envelope, feeling like i was getting closer. and then, sure enough, there it was. i stared at it for a while, then took a long swallow of wine before sighing and burying my head in my hands. because my life runs cyclical, and finding that little coincidence there amongst the other relics of my past was inevitable. these are the things i know for sure.

...i'm a firm believer that you can't get something you really want without paying some sort of price. and once the deal is done, baby, it's done. but the trick of it is, i think, to not let it consume you, and to work to eventually rise above it. that was one of my major failings in my twenties: i didn't try to get out of it, and revelled in it instead, and let it consume me. because this was all i really wanted, right? when i was a teenager, i had a very clear idea of the life i wanted for myself in the future. and, because i was a dumb kid, i was willing to do whatever it took to get to what i believed was my ultimate destiny.

i got there. but i still struggle at moving above it, and past who i was, and what i keep in those bins is a testament to this, for sure. (i actually still can't open up those envelopes and look at a lot of that stuff.  it's hard in a way that i don't have words for.)

but i look at the sad boy in the photograph, and i look at a page torn out of a magazine from 2005, and i remember that while i may have cared for all of you, it's only been a few of you who've changed the course of my life.

and i'm okay with that.

[ music | tori amos, "famous blue raincoat" ]