04 December 2005

She's Leaving Home

I'm standing at the sink by the window, filling a pot for pasta. As the water swirls against its silver interior, I realize how shiny and new-looking it is—that's because it was my mom's. I immediately think how grateful I am to have it...and then I realize that Mom's pots were cleaner than mine because I left home, and she didn't cook so much after that. And then my brain perceives the song that's just started playing on our stereo: "Matte Kudasai," by King Crimson. Lyrics:

Stand by the windowpane,
Pain, like the rain that's falling.
She waits in the air, Matte Kudasai.
She sleeps in a chair, in her sad America.
When, when was the night so long,
Long, like the notes I'm sending.
She waits in the air, Matte Kudasai.
She sleeps in a chair, in her sad America.

This song is mournful, plaintive, meditative, just nails everything I was feeling at that moment. And even more so, in that King Crimson's Discipline album is a total relic of the year I left home for college. It was the music of that autumn, thumping out of every stereo in the co-ed fraternity I joined. And there again, the frat was my first real break from the tumultuous home life I'd known before. I found acceptance as just me, not New York City me. I actually forged a more comfortable identity because I had that place and those amazing friends to guide me. It was not a typical frat: we were largely brainiacs with a thick streak of partyer woven in. Many science geeks (who were really cool underneath that stereotype, and I bagged a few besides); a couple of disaffected jocks; at least half a dozen writers; a significant number of Mainers; people who could discourse for hours about the plight of Wile E. Coyote or what made James Joyce's Ulysses worth reading.

Astonishing how music yanks you right to a time, place, and set of feelings, whether you knew that journey was pending or not. In fact, Pete put the Crimson on before I started cooking, so I was unwitting. And BTW, if you're dismissive of the notion of prog-rock, if it seems stegasaurean and ponderous...well, it's a lot more rhythmic and emotionally accessible than it seems. I wouldn't have gotten through my teen years without it.

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