Thursday, April 19, 2007

33 Funerals and a Birthday

Tomorrow is Cade's birthday. It is also the 8-year anniversary of the shootings at Columbine high school. Earlier this week, at Virginia Tech, a young man--who made numerous references to the Columbine shooters in a recording he sent to the media--killed 32 others before turning the gun on himself in the middle of what everyone describes as a peaceful and blissfully serene campus.

I tried to write about this on Monday afternoon, but couldn't. It's just so awful and I haven't felt up to commenting upon, let alone analyzing what happened in Blacksburg. I know the head of the counseling center at Tech--he is the significant other of my former supervisor at Trinity, the former head of the counseling center at Loyola--and my thoughts have been largely consumed by imagining the scope of the pain and despair he and my friend are witnessing and enduring. While the whys of the tragedy don't plague me--ours is a violent society, always has been, always will, and until we get some better weapons legislation and put some more goddamned money in our mental healthcare system things like this will continue to happen--the whats most certainly do: what next, what else, what more will we have to collectively endure before we can get back to the business of living meaningful lives.

I was feeling pretty down today but on the way home was gifted with an unexpected song. Gladys Knight sang 'Midnight Train to Georgia' over three decades ago, I've never been on a train, and I don't think I know anyone who lives in the Peach State, but the song has always spoken to me on a visceral level. The tumbling chord progression, Knight's thunderous, soulful performance--everything, everything about the song makes me want to weep with appreciation. Today, the lyrics spoke to me:

He's leaving
on that midnight train to Georgia
Said he's going back to find a simpler place and time
I'll be with him on that midnight train to Georgia
I'd rather live in his world than live without him in mine.

I used to think of the sentiment expressed in the song's lyrics as slightly pathetic: I could not come close to imagining a scenario in which I would follow a man across the country in because I could not tolerate the idea of living without him. I mean, here's this dude who moves to L.A. to "make it big," can't hack it, and runs for the nearest train to slump back to his hometown with his tail between his legs and this woman, this glorious woman, would rather "live in his world," instead of the assuredly kick-ass world she has created for herself? Huh? It never made sense. But now, as I consider all the reasons why I am where I am, why I stay in this town despite the sorrows we encounter every single day, why I squelch my impulses to travel, to roam, to explore, I know it is in large part because of Cade's ties to this place. While I have come to feel at home here, it is truly his world that I live in, and I would most assuredly live with Cade in this world than in any other world I might create for myself. And it is this knowledge, this commitment, that gives solace in times when the world feels like utter chaos.

Happy birthday, baby. I'd take a midnight train with you to anywhere.

1 comment:

Emmy said...

Your analysis of Gladys' character making those unthinkable choices is a nice metaphor showing New Orleanians' commitment to the city as the dysfunctional relationship that it is.

We DO make those choices for love, don't we.

Love the post.