“We need to take a break”, I read. The text came this morning. There it was in black and white. Bam. The end of the line. I got dumped. A relationship spurned out of a hot love affair that pushed us together and pulled us across the terror and tragedy of a pandemic. I’ll tell you, dysfunctional relationship or not, there’s just no graceful way to feel: rejection sucks.
I think I’ll write a song.
I’ve had a feeling it was coming for a week now, so I got a head start on the crying, and the writing too. The pain had been percolating, especially as I took to the highways to NYC and upstate driving through my daily life, meetings, errands, responsibilities. The tears came in waves at any time, as they do, weighty drops free falling off cheeks, bowling balls of unchecked emotion.
Finally, last night, I jotted down some “I-feel-it-coming” lyrics, soiling the page with my regurgitating heart as I sat cross legged in bed against a few pillows, the resulting brain dump on my iPad, just short of cringe-worthy. Don’t worry, by the umpteenth iteration, when literary purge begins to take shape as song, I’ll have siphoned off just enough of the emotional bleed. The voice of wrangled self pity will lead to art.
This isn’t the first song I’ve written for him. He’s already got two notches on his ‘songs from Elise’ belt, and this one will make number three. Not that he cared all that much. Come to think of it, all that indifference was a red flag, a red flag when I wrote a song to show how much I cared but it offended him. A red flag when misunderstanding always seemed to drown out understanding. A red flag when things went wrong between us far more often than they went right.
A year ago, I embarked on designing an artist book that tells the story of our emotionally laden relationship, a project I kept hushed, especially from him. It is a novel idea for a book, one where song floats out of story. Shiny LP’s are drilled and bound with black and silver hinges into an unusual structure that reads like a codex. The book is meant to evoke the meditative state of those coming of age afternoons I spent as a teenager lounging with friends on my blue carpet, positioning the needle of my turntable into the concentric grooves of our favorite albums.
Here in 2021, I found a new way to meld vision and sound. A QR code printed on the book keeps my original song, this first one, written about him, waiting in the ethers for the reader to activate. Upon holding up a phone to the code, the floodgates of melody really do ignite auditory senses while you, the reader, can also read the piece, page-by-page, recreating an immersive narrative of the heart.
“The medium is the message,” wrote Marshall McLuhan. Replete with spinning sketches, translucent illustrations and intricate folds meant to hide and reveal, my book is a playful puzzle, an interactive game of show and tell. It’s fun and beautiful and deeply connective, an entirely new format of my art for which I am proud.
This is one of my favorite ideas, yet in infancy, it became stuck in 2nd gear. I closeted the mockups and barred my soul from completing it. It was like I was afraid of setting it to the sky. It was as if I was always looking in my rear view mirror checking if he, my muse and my monster, my man of the hour was there, watching. I policed my art, censoring it so as to not drive him away, knowing his penchant for misunderstanding, this LP Diary book would have sealed the deal.
But, to hell with that. This month I will finish this particular LP Diary, creating a finale masterpiece to mark another season in my life. The project will require risk-taking and sacrifice. The sacrifice of courage, the sacrifice of honesty, the sacrifice of belief in myself. Come to think of it, this is true love.