Thursday, July 8, 2010

One More Time, With Feeling (Hold On!)

I have this idea that Regina Spektor and me are kindred spirits. Really, we've got to be. So often, I listen to her music and just feel ... relief.  I love how she can be optimistic, melancholy, and sweet, all in one tune. It makes me feel like it's okay that I can go through a rollercoaster of emotion in one hour. And in one day? On a day like today, I'm like an entire amusement park of feelings and thoughts.

Today is my mother's birthday, which is pretty consistently an emotional day for me. Like I wrote about last year, it's not even just this one day, necessarily. It's what I call the Fourth of July syndrome. What I said last year really is right on the money:
Right around the 4th of July every year, it hits: I miss my mom more than ever. It sneaks up on me, too, even though by this point—my seventh year without her—you’d think I’d start mentally preparing myself. But every year it’s still a sudden feeling, knocking the wind out of me when I least expect it. It’s a combination of things, I suppose.
A combination of things, for sure. Just a different combination of things each year.

For instance: On Monday, I went with my Aunt Linda and my cousin Claire to watch "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" at the Keystone Arts Cinema here in Indy. It's part of the Keystone mall, and as we were pulling in to the parking garage, I realized the last time I had been to this mall was with my mom, probably when I was 17. It's not often I go somewhere in Indianapolis and can say that. I almost didn't want to go in.

But that would have been nuts. So I went in the mall. 

The movie ended up being sold out, so we walked through the mall to check out the Anthropologie store. (We went back today and saw the movie: Fantastic. Great adaptation.) As we walked through the mall, I felt discombobulated. I felt like I'd turn to my right and my mom would be beside me, weaving in and out around the slow-walking mall pedestrians, rolling her eyes at me. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. I wanted to punch someone in the face.

Once we were in the store, I lost Claire and Linda for a minute. I walked around a rack and spotted them: Mother and daughter, heads turned together like conspirators, just looking at a shirt or something. Damned if I didn't actually feel my heart fall into my gut at that sight. My mom should be here, with us! With me! I had to fight the urge to bury my face in a clothing rack and scream.

I took a deep breath and stepped away from the perfectly normal sight of my cousin and aunt talking. I could have screamed, I guess. I could have cried. But sometimes, all you can really do is take a deep breath, and go look at overpriced household and clothing items you can't afford.

In less than a minute, I was laughing about something with Claire.

That's the crazy part of the 4th of July/Missing Mom Syndrome. Yeah, it knocks the wind out of me, but then, just as quick, I'm elated. Kind of like how shopping with my mom used to make me feel—I'd be mortified by her racing around the mall like a madwoman, but then ten minutes later, I'd be laughing hysterically with her by a clothing rack. I guess it doesn't have to make sense.

Which leads me back to Regina, my kindred spirit. I put this song on tonight, and just thought, Yes. Exactly.

It's called "One More Time With Feeling," and this is how it goes:

"Your stitches are all out
But your scars are healing wrong
The helium balloon inside your room has come undone
And it's pushing up at the ceiling
And the flickering lights it cannot get beyond

Everyone takes turns
Now it's yours to play the part
And they're sitting all around you
Holding copies of your chart
And the misery inside their eyes is
Synchronized and reflecting into yours

Hold on!
One more time with feeling
Try it again, breathing's just a rhythm
Say it in your mind until you know that the words are right
This is why we fight

You thought by now you'd be
So much better than you are
You thought by now they'd see
That you have come so far

And the pride inside their eyes
Would synchronize into a love you've never known
So much more than you've been shown"
I think about how I want so badly to be doing something meaningful in my life, something that would make my mom proud. Something that does not involve waiting tables. Like Regina sings, "You thought by now you'd be/So much better than you are" and I did, I really did. I don't want to disappoint her.

I think my mom would respond with something like this:

"Hold on! One more time with feeling. Try it again."

After all, breathing is just a rhythm. So what can we do? If you can, go shopping with your mom. If you can't, whatever you do, just hold on. And do it with feeling.

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