This week, I had sixty bajillion things on my proverbial docket. Many moons ago, I would have handled the last five days of musical events with grace and undeniable nonchalance, two feelings that just don’t permeate my reactive senses the way they used to, I’m afraid.
My unsuspecting self from six days ago has fallen off the map. It is now Saturday and I am mortally exhausted, reduced to a pajama-wearing, couch-dwelling, unbathed recluse because that’s how any true introvert recovers from a week of concentrated socialization. That, and off-brand Ben Gay (“muscle rub”), which I had to slather on last night when an over-abundance of muscly little knots in my shoulders and neck prevented me from falling asleep until 1:30am, an unheard-of hour in the life of this maven (P.S: if you’re looking for the best way to get your pillow and sheets to smell like Pepto Bismol, Ben Gay will do it. That stuff is trippy).
I’ve been feeling kind of down and out this week because two of my greatest friends have moved away, taking with them their newborn and all future margarita double-dates, abandoning all hope that my Husband the Hermit will ever again leave the house and connect in real ways with people he cares about and respects. In other words, this couple is a good friend of mine and my spouse’s. We were a part of each other’s weddings, we’ve vacationed together, attended college, and been involved in each others’ lives for going on nine years.
So I tried to distract my mopey musical soul by attempting to compose the second piece in my musical theater song set. I got the melody notated in musescore, an undertaking that is far less dramatic than it used to be, due in part to my refusal to be technologically inept. The rest of the song has stalled because my heart’s just not in it.
Instead, I found myself thinking about all the lonely music, poetry, and art that addresses the universal notion of good-bye. When I was young and silly, I would pen cheesy parting poems to my friends. In my preteen / teen years, I graduated to equally ridiculous means, usually homemade photograph collages with words and phrases clipped from magazines and glued ever-so-strategically onto poster board. That was back when the process of printing and sharing photos took a gargantuan amount of effort, making all those archaic gestures like thank-you cards and handwritten letters mean so much more today. As I grew older, I moved onto other, more musical methods, which seems sort of natural and organic.
So somewhere between the songwriting stage and its “photojournalistic” predecessor era, I experienced one of my more memorable, life-altering goodbyes. I had to move the town in which I grew up with my family. My great childhood girlfriend was the hardest to leave, and so it only made sense to me that I would express my bittersweet emotions in artifact form. I located a copy of one of my favorite childhood books, Annie Bananie by Leah Komaiko, which was given to me by another friend from a previous family move, which occurred during the height of my barbie-doll years. Today, the process of locating difficult-to-find reading material is made loads easier with Amazon, which just wasn’t prolific enough for my parents to trust with their credit card at that point in time (c.2000-2001-ish). I got my hands on a fresh copy and wrote little specific notes on each page for her, wrapped it up, and gave it to her as a parting gift.
There’s something in this book that hits home. It makes all those childhood moments more sincere, tangible, and less…closeted. I can’t get through the story without feeling a little bittersweet and nostalgic because good-byes are hard and we all cope differently.
So last week, I wrapped up another copy of this book with a penned inscription on the cover:
Good friends are never far away.
…and gave it to my friends before they moved thousands of miles away.
And now, I am self-medicating with my own music therapy lesson plan: an MP3 of “For Good” from Wicked on repeat in the background while thumbing through my own worn copy of this gem of a story (enjoy the previews of both below).
And laugh all you want at my trite-ish coping mechanisms. Deep down, we’re all the same and you know it.