Wednesday, August 31

Songs for going away for a little while

The journey to California is a dull tale involving the following: an overweight suitcase; three films (Carol, Where The Wild Things Are, Star Wars); a two-hour wait in line at Oakland airport security; a smooth, cool taxi ride; and a quiet arrival to a pillow-less bed.

But before that, there are messages and goodbyes, and a face crinkled up with tears at the train station. My parents shrink to tiny figures as the platform disappears out of view. I think of that over-quoted but irritatingly spot-on Kerouac line: 'What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.'

A few days later I am standing in a thrift store on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue listening to Amy Winehouse sing, 'He walks away / The sun goes down / He takes the day / But I'm grown / And in your way / In this blue shade / My tears dry on their own'. It's the same sentiment, right? The initial pain of leaving, and how it forces you to look ahead, muster some independence, get on with the next crazy venture. In conversations during these early days we all admit how it was hard to say goodbye, but then the moment passed and it was like, 'right, what's next?'

I will always hate goodbyes though. They might be a necessary manifestation of everything that's good in a relationship, but that doesn't make them any easier. Aged five I cried and cried over a film in which a child is forced to abandon her favourite old toys when the family move home. The toys sit alone on the kerb waiting for the rubbish lorry. I couldn't bear it. I hate that scene in Frances Ha too, when she waves goodbye to her parents in a Californian airport, waves as an escalator lifts her away from them towards a New York-bound plane.

A goodbye is a kind of loss. You lose whatever it is you are saying goodbye to; not the people, necessarily, but the part of your life they represent, a certain time and place. It's a loss of yourself, I guess. You'll never get that old version of you back. While discussing Heart of Darkness in British Literature class today, we touch briefly on the Buddhist concept of dukkha: the pain and suffering of loss, the inevitability of it, how it can never be satisfied. But maybe the pain of loss should never be satisfied, because then we'd never explore beyond it. We'd just remain trapped by it.

Anyway. All of this is just a long-winded explanation of the mix I made before I left. Songs for going away for a little while. These songs will take you from the goodbye tears, the initial feeling of loss and emptiness and a lack of love for the new venture (or maybe the feeling of being left behind), to finding your way through the lonesome day, and the energy of newness that brings: the enjoyment of and gratitude for the experience.

Or as Max puts it in Where The Wild Things Are: 'let the wild rumpus start!'

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Songs for going away for a little while

1. She's Gone  //  Hall & Oates
2. Long Black Veil  //  Richard Hawley
3. I Need My Girl  //  The National
4. Lonely Town  //  Brandon Flowers
5. Lady With The Braid  //  Dory Previn
6. Sloop John B  //  The Beach Boys
7. Lonesome Day (live, Glasgow 2016)  //  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
8. Forever Wild  //  Willie Nile
9. Young Americans  //  David Bowie
10. Wagon Wheel  //  Lou Reed
11. Balance  //  Future Islands
12. Thank You  //  Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
13. If Not For You  //  George Harrison 
14. This Hard Land  //  Bruce Springsteen

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