WORDS BY ELIZABETH BARKER & LAURA JANE FAULDS, ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY
A girl I know from home wrote Songs you will never ever get sick of even though you’ve heard them thousands of times and will probably hear them thousands more on her Facebook wall as a way of asking all her friends “Which are yours?” It was late and I was drunk and I started writing down the names of a bunch of different songs into the pale Internet-blue box but when I got to and dreams by the cranberries to be honest Mark asked me to be quiet. He was not being an oppressor by asking me that. It was late, he had to wake up early, and I’m a very loud typer.
Dreams by the Cranberries isn’t cool, I know that, but it doesn’t sound uncool to me— I’m just saying it’s uncool because I know that it is. It just is. I don’t hear it and think “This is really cool,” mostly I hear it as sounding delicate and spidery and ephemeral the same way a piece of white tulle would be ephemeral. It sounds like the life journey of a piece of white tulle, or lavender-grey, or cream, or rose gold tulle that started existing as part of a ballet costume at the end of the 19th Century in either Austria or Germany but has by 2014 faded away entirely. Not decomposed but what’s the other word? I want to say evaporated, since I am thinking of something so light. But the word I am looking for is disintegrate.
I’ve loved it since I was nine. It was on the Boys On The Side soundtrack, and I would rewind the cassette tape so we could listen to it over and over again. I was in my mother’s car. There were pool noodles in the back of the car.
I Tweeted about Dreams once. It was the winter I lived at my Dad’s apartment and worked overnight shifts at the Gap and my knuckles were always chapped and my lips were always bleeding. I worked out at a little gym across the street that still sends me pleading emails asking me to come work out at it again. I know I could and probably should unsubscribe from the gym’s email list but my time is really precious to me and I feel like it’s more the gym’s responsibility to notice that I’m a lost cause and deal with it than mine. One probably depressing afternoon I worked out to Dreams over and over again and then came home and Tweeted about how when I work out to Dreams by the Cranberries I feel like I’m wearing a t-shirt that says I’M WORKING OUT TO DREAMS BY THE CRANBERRIES across the front, because I was younger and cared more about whether things were or cool or not, it embarrassed me to be listening to such an uncool song, but that was the tail end of me caring about whether a song or something was or wasn’t cool, that’s how old you are when that impulse evaporates and decomposes, twenty-five I would say— and a girl I knew replied to that Tweet, I don’t remember what she said, but she’s dead now. She died a few weeks ago.
Home is so weird now that I don’t live there. It snowed there, and then they had a warm day, and I don’t know if any of my friends are happy or sad, and everyone is dying. No young person died the entire time I lived there, and then I moved away, and everyone started dying. My dentist died.
I really liked my dentist. Once my dad and I went to the liquor store and my dentist was outside the liquor store smoking and it turned out the liquor store was closed so my dad and I walked to a different liquor store and then we ran into him again, and we joked about it, how we all wanted to get drunk bad enough to go to a second liquor store rather than just give up and not drink. Another time, he said to my dad, “I get you, you’re like my dad, you’re a laid-back dude.” He was my dad’s dentist too.
I listened to Dreams by the Cranberries the next day, not the day after my dad and I ran into my dead dentist at the liquor store (though maybe that day too), but the day after my boyfriend asked me to stop typing loudly at three in the morning. I was walking to the Drapers Arms to go meet Vanya; the Draper in Drapers Arms refers to the old-timey profession of a retailer or wholesaler of cloth but I like to imagine that it is Don. Don Draper’s Arms. I took a detour to holler at 157 Hemingford Road along the way— that’s where the main character of my novel lives. There was a little pale aqua Volkswagen Beetle parked out front that I’d never seen parked out front of it before, which was a nice touch. The little pale aqua Volkswagen Beetle is parked out front of 157 Hemingford Road on Google Street View, too, in case you need to see it to believe it, or just want to.
I was wearing a chartreuse turtleneck. The lady from the Cranberries breathe-sang about her life changing every day in every possible way and I wanted to cry but didn’t, since I wasn’t actually sad. I was significantly less sad than usual. I felt very conscious of, and very grateful for, gravity. For my feet being planted firmly on the ground. I felt very earthy and solid; I was a Taurus for a second. A few days later I was thinking about my parents on the bus, about how weirdly well your parents know you— you forget it about them. My parentes knew me when I was a baby and then they watched me turn into a child and then a teenager and then a grown-up, nobody else really did that, observed the narrative of my life from the vantage point of already being an adult--
I have some friends who I’ve known for a long time and they’ve also seen the whole thing unfold, but they were just little kids and little teens the whole time too. They wouldn’t have been able to put it into a proper context, wouldn’t have been able to decipher the relationship between the way I was growing and the way I was aging. I guess I feel like Dreams can see me the same way. It knew me when I was nine and pool noodles were an object I interacted with, when I was fourteen and pretended to like anime because… I don’t know. I don’t know why I ever did that, when I was twenty-five and worked out at a shitty gym, when I was twenty-nine and looked at a house on Hemingford Road I didn’t live in but still could remember living in it because I am a fiction writer and my weird brain works like that. And that was a beautiful feeling, nothing at all like a piece of flimsy fabric decaying. I felt like I was my own little planet. The world around me was the flimsy thing.
Kurt Vile, "Puppet to the Man" (Liz)
A few Fridays ago I got to go to a special screening of a movie called Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer Aniston was there and she did a Q&A afterward; she was very fluttery and Rachel Green-y and stunning in her smart pink dress, which you can see in this mediocre photo of mine. After the screening there was a Kurt Vile show at a church in Koreatown and I really wasn't in the mood: I wanted to bask in Jennifer Aniston's pink-and-golden movie-star glow a little while longer and then go home, but in the end I sucked it up and drove over to the goddamn show. The thing about seeing Kurt Vile, I remembered, is that as long as you can find a place to sit or a wall to lean against, you can just zone out and be off in your own world, but in a way that's enhanced by Kurt Vile's cool draggy voice and spacey vibes. It's restorative, like communal naptime, only with pretty guitars and no post-nap hangover.
Anyway, Alisa and I drove to the show separately and I got there first, so I went to the upstairs bar and paid ten bucks for a glass of bad white wine. The opening band wasn't my thing so instead of watching them I went to a nice little room outside of the women's bathroom and charged my phone. There was a vanity there and I touched up my eyeliner and lipstick and drank my wine and responded to some texts and Instagram interactions, and by the time Kurt Vile came on I was all refreshed and ready to go. I felt entirely accommodated by my surroundings, and I decided that's going to be thing for 2015 and beyond: total accommodation at all times, no matter how unfavorable and potentially irritating the circumstances. All you need is some imagination and willingness to look like a weirdo, and fortunately I've got both those things in spades.