Sunday, February 27, 2011

This old guitar

Maybe it’s gauche to admit it, but I’m still a huge Indigo Girls fan. They’re maybe the first band I fell in love with, even back in the Philippines, and I don’t think they’ve received the critical acclaim they deserved. Not because of homophobia and sexism in the media and the recording industry or anything like that. Not because of anything like that.

So this Indigo Girls song came to me today, driving up from Chattanooga to Chicago, my old stomping grounds.

I don't know if it was real or in a dream
lately waking up i'm not sure where i've been
there was a table set for six and five were there
i stood outside and kept my eyes upon that empty chair

and there was steam on the windows from the kitchen
laughter like a language i once spoke with ease
but i'm made mute by the virtue of decision
i choose most of your life goes on without me

oh the fear i've known
that i might reap the praise of strangers
and end up on my own
all i've sown was a song but maybe i was wrong

i said to you the one gift which i'd adore
unwrap a package of the next 10 years unfolding
but you told me if i had my way i'd be bored
right then i knew i loved you best born of your scolding

when we last talked we were lying on our backs
looking up at the sky through the ceiling
i used to lie like that alone out on the driveway
trying to read the greek upon the stars the alphabet of feeling

oh i knew back then
it was a calling that said if joy then pain
the sound of the voice these years later
is still the same

i am alone in a hotel room tonight
i squeeze the sky out but there's not a star appears
begin my studies with this paper and this pencil
and i'm working through the grammar of my fears

mercy, what i won't give to have the things that mean the most
not to mean the things i miss unforgiving
the choice still is the language or the kiss

Maybe the only reason I’m brave enough to post that is because it’s 12:43 eastern time and I spent all day driving trying to convince my father that I’m a Christian even though he believes I’m not. Trying to convince him that the work I’m doing is important. Trying to convince him, and through him all of my family, all of my friends, all of the people who have ever doubted, who have ever said no, all of those who think that walking away from a paycheck, from a sure thing even if it’s not the thing I believe in: I am doing the right thing.

It’s always reassuring, watching the Oscars, watching all of those dorky people get up on stage in their fancy outfits and think about all of the people who must have beat them down in their lives. “You’ll never make it as a set designer. Who in their right mind would pay you to do that? What kind of job is that anyway? Why don’t you go ahead and go to accounting school, like Cousin Jeb.” But they said no, and tonight’s moment is their vindication.

I’m writing tonight because maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I am doing absolutely the wrong thing, risking everything on a bad hand. But I’ll never know if I don’t try.


Red Sonia said...

Another one to make me weep. This is beautiful. The song, the story, the struggle to try to convince a parent of your legitimacy as a Christian. It seems funny to care, but we all do. i am sorry to say that I can't imagine believing you are not a Christian, though I was not there to hear your father's side. Honesty, my theory is that we were born to disappoint our parents. Even being a clone would make them sad. Maybe the effort is what the relationship is about and somewhere in their eighties they will get it and believe you.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Sonia... Someone once told me: some people will never earn the approval of their parents. It still hurts, though.