Jul. 24th, 2013

[identity profile] amethysting.livejournal.com

It Was a Very Good Year
Frank Sinatra
Nothing But the Best

Summer vacation was (is) time spent outside, tanning without realizing it, sitting under trees and looking up from my book to notice the contrast of vibrant green leaves against a robin's egg sky.

Vacation is a road trip or two.

I hated road trips when I was younger.  Trapped in the car for hours, the constant fear at the back of my mind that I just MIGHT have to go to the bathroom (WHAT THEN?!  My father didn't make pit stops), the irritation of being subjected to my dad's choice of music (when all I wanted to do was put on my headphones (I remember them distinctly--some cheap pair; the band was a thin piece of metal and the ear phones were small, round pieces of black foam) and listen to my tape player).

I remember, on one particular drive to North Bay (my dad would drop my mom, my brother and I there for a few weeks every summer.  As you know, I have really fond memories of the time I spent there--surrounded by forest; with a backyard pool; a tree house; with my cool older cousins, Lisa and Sara; and with my favourite aunt and uncle.  My dad didn't stay all that long--a few days, a week at most--and would make the drive back to Montreal (or on to Toronto) on his own.  At the time I thought it was because he had to work--which was true, in part.  I think it was a vacation for him--a kind of break from having a family) my dad was very eager to share the music he was interested in at the time.

During the drive I am thinking of, it was Frank Sinatra.

At the time, Frank's smooth baritone did nothing for me.  It was a pesky irritant--the opening of "It Was a Very Good Year" made me cringe.  It sounded old-fashioned and simultaneously sad and schmaltzy.  My twelve-year-self ridiculed the song mercilessly, mocking the lyrics, making up my own.

I quite like the song now; it is still sad, but a sad that I can understand.  I like the way the music shifts throughout--the little flourishes and changes that correspond to moving from one age to another.  I wish I hadn't given my dad such a hard time.  Now, factoring in my own experience, I know that he was sharing a part of himself via the music he chose to play on the stereo, in that car, on that trip.  But, in all fairness, I was twelve and I had what was probably Dance Mix '93 to listen to.
[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com

Lead in the Light
The Hundred in the Hands
Red Night

: Berlin was almost exactly a year ago so, as usual, my senses are heightened, searching for triggers to remind me of when I left Montreal's confines, when I ventured out. The weather (crisp, cool, sunny: perfect Berlin), the smells (wandering the Plateau today, smoke and fresh, green air; hints of the perfume I wore last August), voraciously reading a book set in (and quite possibly a conflicted love letter to) the city, and of course: slipping back into that 'state of being' I, we all?, unknowingly create when living especially vibrant circumstances -- this one particular to August in an indescribable city.

On one of the few afternoons I spent solo, I went on a David Bowie pilgrimage to what used to be West Berlin -- stood under his old apartment in Kreuzberg, took it in -- then wandered the area for awhile, eventually happening upon one of Berlin's gay areas. I paused at a cafe and had possibly the best pancake I'd ever eaten while listening to this album and reading -- reflecting. And when this song came on ---- my heart exploded. It's the one song that immediately transports me back to Berlin in a way exclusively tied up with the city itself: no missing you, or dancing with Meg -- this is BERLIN. Song form.

With a year of distance, some things get clearer. The first is that the longer I am removed from Berlin, the stronger I feel for it. Cities vibrate on their own special wavelengths, and Berlin's synced up pretty seamlessly with mine (not forgetting, of course, that I have never missed anyone the way I missed you while I was there). I love that city: I connect to it, and the two weeks I spent there keep charging me, NOW me, 2013-in-Montreal-me, full of a potent energy, a spark, a collision of emotions. THAT FEELING: that's why I leave. That's why I travel: not just to be there, but to come back and remember.

I think a lot of people would hasten, if hearing their ~traveling~ called a "vacation", to correct you. "No, see, a vacation is about relaxing, getting away from life -- I'm a traveler, so I spend time getting into life, you know? I go everywhere, I experience everything, I'm transplanted, nomadic, set down momentarily, but I really feel it, so it's different. Get it?"

Pretentia aside: what's a vacation, really? Being transplanted from your daily routine. Nomadic in thought, set down momentarily in a new state of mind. Experiencing something you wouldn't have the chance to normally, be it drinking coffee or maragaritas in the sun at 11AM on a Tuesday. A vacation is a separation from reality. It is not that different from traveling, really: it's not the word or the location or the circumstances or even the length of time that makes it something profound ---- it's the person experiencing it.

Vacation is recharging -- perhaps lazy, at first, like the opening shoegaze-y chords of this beautiful album-ender; definitely relieved, grateful for the shift. But the song revs up, explodes; it changes, you change, because on vacation you are allowed the space you need to become whole again -- to become yourself, completely; yourself removed from social expectations/constraints. You get to know yourself best when you're left to your own devices. And when you "let in the light" those weeks you have for yourself...I think the greatest hope, goal, is that you will keep that light with you, for another year, even if you are never in that same space -- be it a city or an emotional state -- again.

I will stay out / and dance with you / to the beat of daylight.


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