Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Late Night Listening XLI: Are You on Fire?

There's something about the season... the shortening of days, the changing of clocks, or perhaps the contentiousness of the nation's political Zeitgeist... that works to stir up my existential angst. But when you throw in an Indigo Girls concert, that kicks things up to crisis level.

This past Friday, these talented souls put on an amazing show in a college town southeast of here. I had purchased the tickets back in mid-July when my Beloved had heard they were scheduled to play there. It was my first time seeing both of them live. This past May, I had seen Amy perform solo at a snug local venue and was similarly blown away.

I remember being hooked on them after seeing the video "Closer to Fine" on Mtv back in the early fall of 1988. I hadn't even turned 20 yet, but the song's yearning to transcend the confusion of living spoke to me strongly. Their harmonies, unlike anything else in the mainstream, lured me in.

I was in my second year of college, struggling mightily with organic chemistry, worried horribly about a grandmother who had endured a horrible accident that would leave her an invalid for another 16 years, and still stuck in an estrangement from my father that had lasted for almost four years.

Unfortunately, it was also a time of limited budgets, so I didn't invest in a copy of that album. The song would wander in and out of my mind over the years, but for the most part, I didn't follow their prolific career.

When I moved to the Circle City in 2000, I started listening to an indie rock station here, which would play newer tracks from them. In 2005, I borrowed a copy of Retrospective and it gave me a chance to sample their work in the years between.

My Beloved, by contrast, is a huge fan and has followed them throughout the years, and has been to multiple concerts. I smiled as I would occasionally glance over to watch her singing along to her favorites.

The performance on Friday was interesting from the standpoint that their opening act, the Shadowboxers, doubled as a backup band, a group of young guys who have some killer harmonies in their own right.

The show had many moments that touched me, but the most powerful performance was their rendition of "Kid Fears". Amy and Emily started off alone, and toward the end, a member of the Shadowboxers comes on stage to sing the male vocals. The emotions the song tapped in side of me have left my mind playing that part of the concert over and over.

The overall state of my life is difficult to describe, and there are probably changes on the horizon, but I can't quite puzzle out what form it take. My employer, Company Line, is probably reaching a point where it is time to pull the plug. Despite revamps in the product and efforts to create a more effective sales program, the traction hasn't been there.

After having been there for almost five years and seeing a lot of people come and go, and having seen my closest coworker been dismissed ungracefully after she burnt out, I have struggled most days to get of out bed and get to the office.

I've done some job searching over the summer and fall. I have been presented with three more offers, and I've turned them all down because they were not natural steps of growth or not good cultural fits.

Amid all of the work uncertainty, my relationship with my Beloved keeps me going. The loneliness and isolation I've struggled with in the past has become a distant memory, and I've been spending way less time living inside my head when dealing with problems, which is why I haven't felt the need to post to my blog for a while.

We've been together almost 1 1/2 years, and the emotional bonds have grown stronger. And much to my surprise, both her kids and mine have been very comfortable with us, although we do get some ribbing over displays of affection. We're still a ways away from merging households, but it has become an ever increasing reality with the passage of time.

Although there are many planes in our connectedness, music is perhaps the strongest one, and we have had countless conversations over what we love most and what it means to us.

Perhaps some of the emotional heaviness I experienced at last Friday's show was an elevated awareness of the time that has passed over the past two-plus decades of my adult life and the sorrow that so many of those years were spent without knowing her, or even knowing of her existence.

Sometimes, I catch myself wondering if things would have been better if we would have crossed paths at a much earlier point in our lives. My Beloved puts it into perspective by saying we met at the right time in our lives, when we were ready for each other, shaped by the bumps and scrapes of living life.

Although that ascribe to the Universe a level of grand design that I don't quite buy into, she's probably right in the sense that we are who we are now because of the things we lived through, and that to think that we could have lived for the better by meeting earlier on would be foolish because at that stage of our lives, we were very different people.

When I hear this, I know she is right. To meet her at this stage of my life couldn't be a better time, for there is still plenty life to be lived, and everything leading up to this point has made me realize just how rare this kind of sustained connectedness can be.

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