Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here We Go

This summer I went to two weddings.

The first one occurred in June. My father married Susan Kent, a wonderful woman he had been involved with for the preceding five years. They both, I think, had kind of given up on finding someone so late in life. My father arrived in Nova Scotia with a suitcase and a guitar, having purged himself of all physical reminders of his earlier life, travelling light and, I believe, without a real destination in mind. Susan, alternately, kept everything she had ever owned in boxes that she never opened, and that surrounded her in her impossibly cluttered apartment. Having seen this apartment myself, it amazes me that there was room for my father within it, but he happily found his space. They balanced each other out, matching one another's quirks and personalities in a magical way. They are so obviously into one another, but rather than alienating the people around them by being too insular, their affection for one another manages to infect everyone in their vicinity. They glow, in the healthiest, most inviting way. I think that much of it comes from being so surprised to have found one another.

Most of my favourite love songs aren't really about being in love, and I don't want to extrapolate on that much further lest I ruin potential future entries. I'll just say that most of my favourites are about looking back on a relationship with a certain nostalgic fondness and self-awareness that is very much grounded in and by the speaker's present state of mind. Songs about being in love usually seem kind of sucky, all caught up in sentiment and flowers, with a very few notable exceptions like Fountains of Wayne's innocently joyful "Hey Julie," for example.

I like "Here We Go" so much because it's both hopeful and realistic, and also because it puts so much onus on the speaker himself, rather than being concerned with a love interest who is little more than a one-dimensional ideal, or/and, as in many love-lost songs, the cause of the speaker's downfall and misery. This is a getting-ready-for-love song, and I don't think there are too many of 'em.

"You've gotta hope that there's someone for you, as strange as you are / Who can cope with the things that you do without trying too hard." That's it, isn't it?

My friends Ian and Kate got married last week-end, and my favourite part of everything was watching Kate pronounce her vows with such earnestness and devotion, on the verge of tears the entire time. These are two remarkable people on their own, and people who are optimistic but realistic enough to, I think, know that they don't need one another, and would be okay anyway, and almost pleasantly surprised to have found one another. Amazed, even. Because, of course, love is amazing.

Dad and Susan got married at Susan's sister's house because there was no electricity in their own home, where they had planned to have their very small and modest ceremony, and many of their neighbours were in fact in danger of losing their lives and property to the forest fires that were raging through Porter's Lake. I couldn't believe it when Dad called to tell me that the ceremony was going to happen as planned, just at another venue.

Love is not all I'll-be-there-until-the-end-of-time. It is way more specific than that. It is forest fires and towering boxes that could fall on your head if just one thing is shifted the wrong way. It is amazing that any thinking person ever walks down that aisle. Good for them!
Here We Go - Jon Brion
You've gotta hope that there's someone for you
As strange as you are
Who can cope with the things that you do
Without trying too hard
Because you can bend the truth
Until it's suiting you
These things that you're wrapping all around you
You never know what they will amount to
And your life is just going on without you
It's the end of the things you know
Here we go
You've gotta know that there's more to this world
Than what you have seen
Because we all have a limited view
Of what we can be
As we move along with our blinders on
Each one of us feels a little stranded
And you can't explain or understand it
Each one of us on a different planet
And amidst all the to and fro
Someone can say hello
Here we go
The feeling that someone really gets you
It's something that no one should object to
It could happen today so I suggest you
Skip your habit of laying low
It's the end of the things you know
Here we go

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