Saturday, May 27, 2017

it's not love that keeps me here

March 9th 2017 | Berkeley, CA
There's a lot to be said and then there's nothing to say about it at all. It's not so obvious in this journal because I haven't really been writing about it in this space but I can piece together the fragments from other corners to discern the pattern of general unhappiness and dissatisfaction that grew for months. I've been listening to and thinking about "Afraid" for a while now—how me is it that one of those ~significant firsts happened beneath the fashion collage I made that says "IT'S NOT LOVE THAT KEEPS ME HERE" on pretty pink origami paper amidst the floral prettiness of what one conception of love is supposed to look like? I've grown so much since I created that collage but also in the last couple of weeks (we'll get to that at some point). The thing I've never quite publicly fixated on about "Afraid" are the lines: it's not love, it's just the fear / you've put down for all these years / but I'm leaving now. I'm not saying it's not love per se, but all those months of trying to make it work on just love [in tandem] with the fear of not having it was unsustainable. I'm at peace, more at peace than I would have imagined, putting the panic and the fear aside in the end.
What is it about me and seeking comfort in leaving anyhow? Why do I always come back to this: running away and seeking temporary respite in unfamiliar places, even when I know I've faced direct confrontation and come out okay? Why do I feel like I need to have a backup escape route and not be able to let things just settle around me? I like to think I've gotten better about this, and lately I think my rationale for running in the first place has fundamentally changed: before, it was all about going somewhere no one really knew me at; now it's about coming home to the ones who love me. I don't know why I can't think of the parallel sentiments song to "Old Money" but I think that these last two years have certainly taught me a lot about who I would run to and conversely, who I would let run to me. It's not love that keeps me here is perhaps just as true as if you send for me you know I'll run because love is about devotion, loyalty, steadfastness. I don't regret being there and having [person] as my pole—something in your magnetism—for the years we were together but at the same time there's something liberating about leaving that gravitational field and drifting out again. I've felt a little too free but not lost; I couldn't have expected this. I'm kind of just taking it each day as it comes.
I wrote here [in this journal] once over a year ago that I wouldn't be able to listen to "Video Games" after [person] because of how much this song and the memories I had of it meant to this particular relationship, but that turned out not to be true. I think I'm talking and thinking and writing about music because it's all we listened to this weekend in Arizona, but also because these were the words imprinted on my memories of these two years (and what came before, and what's come after): the chorus of "Video Games" and crooning it on Seventh Street when I was still so happy and in love; the hazy, haptic happiness of "My Best Days" in Chicago that somehow wasn't as magical in the pink glow of distant forest fires in my hometown later that summer; the low click of a ticking clock of "Don't Lie" still stuck somewhere in one of those days I can't quite remember spent on that couch in the apartment on Parker; the sparkling mundanity of walks home to "Teenage Wasteland"—
I could go on and on it seems but the thing about these songs and the particular memories I associate them with isn't static. It's what I choose to make of them at any given time and I know I can see myself being able to talk about the feeling of being in love (again) through "Video Games" or that sense of overwhelming comfort enveloping me when I wake up in darkness but somehow still have you through "My Best Days" because music, like good books or movies or art, can evolve in meaning and come to represent different things to you when you encounter them again at different points in your life.
On a final note about recent music—"Love" troubles me because it fundamentally contradicts the pragmatic undercurrent that love isn't enough through the most sincere Lana songs from earlier eras. There's something about it that just feels off, about going back to work or the coffee shop, about getting dressed up with no place to go in context of it all. Maybe it is and isn't enough, and this song came into my life during a week/month that set in motion so many questions I couldn't answer without some serious consideration. I haven't come to any good conclusions yet and maybe I don't need to. Sometimes I think I should sit back and let things just be.

I always panic when people ask me "what kind of music do you listen to" because most of the time, I listen to the same seventy Lana del Rey songs (and thirty other songs, because I have exactly a hundred downloaded to my phone) on shuffle while walking to campus or riding BART or editing photos. Otherwise, I don't normally listen to music because I can't multi-task; I get so caught up thinking about the music I'm listening to that I have a hard time focusing on whatever it is I'm supposed to be working on. For all you music lovers reading this right now who can't relate: I'm sorry. And to all my friends who have let me take over their car stereos to play the songs I've never been able to get out of my head: thank you.

 In August 2014, I wrote the line "IT'S NOT LOVE THAT KEEPS ME HERE" from "Afraid" in all caps after studying abroad in London and hung that collage up over my bed where it's been for the last three years. I'd never been in love at that point, but I became attached to the idea of choosing life over love when you reach that fork in the road. It isn't supposed to be an easy choice but maybe sometimes it's the right one at the time; we all have theories about how the world is supposed to work and go to great lengths to prove ourselves right, and this was the one I repeated to myself this semester when I ended my first real relationship in February. 

I'm leaving Berkeley next week and I don't know when I'll ever be back again. I feel like I've spent this entire semester hyperaware of the imminent goodbyes, but I want to say that I did everything I wanted to in the last couple months before I hop on my one-way flight away from here next Wednesday. I had my last commencement ceremony a week and a half ago and since then I've spent my postgrad life spending time with different friends almost every day, exploring new corners of the Bay Area and semi-spontaneously going on a three day trip to SoCal with the closest friends I made in college earlier this week. 

I'm grateful for the chance to have been able to properly enjoy people's company in my last couple of weeks here: it reminded me of just how loved I am, and I think I'm surprised at the outpouring I've received. For a girl who spent half her life dreaming of running away to the next big city I didn't think I would be so sad to leave somewhere I never felt I completely belonged to in the first place, but maybe what's changed in my last semester is that I realized how much love I have for this school and the people I feel I didn't fully appreciate over the last few years. It's been simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking to have discovered some sense of belonging to this place after all, and maybe, even if it's not love that keeps me here, it'll be love that brings me back again someday.

xoxo, vivian

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