day 44: tuning out

While writing a chapter intro for the book about the deadbolt on my door when I was a kid, I was overcome with sadness.  I’d been moved into my sister’s room because she’d fucked up so many times, there was no reason not to let me finally have the bigger bedroom, a benefit reserved for the older sibling.  Her stuff was mostly gone, save for the bed and a desk. The last crucifix of her presence were the screws ensuring the window wouldn’t open, preventing her from sneaking out just to have the police bring her home.  We broke her heart when she found out about the locks, since mine and my parents room now also had door handles with keys.

Writing about it today reminded me of the discussion my mother had with me while my father screwed the hardware into the doorframe.  Now I could feel safe at night, and I didn’t have to worry about her stealing my things during the day. In hindsight that piece of metal probably only increased my worry of both, a constant reminder that I actually needed them.  She told me for the hundredth time that no family is really normal, that there’s no such thing as “normal”.  Every family had their secrets to hide and their scars to cover, and we were no different.  I never believed her. Ever. To this day I still get irritated thinking about that phrase. “No family is really normal.” Fuck you, just tell me we were fucked up and it would’ve been easier to understand.  Why was it ever more important to fit in?

I remember feeling small in that discussion.  I was physically small, always thin for my height.  But I remember feeling smaller on a different scale. I was in her room, the bigger room that she always got because she was the oldest.  We were sitting on her bed, the biggest bed I’d ever get to call my own, so much bigger than mine.  It was just a full size mattress, but to my short single it was a landscape of quilts, sheets and pillows.  

In every home we lived I got what was supposed to be the office.  The weird room that was poorly planned out and obviously just big enough for a desk and bookshelf and decorative plastic plant that always collects dust over the decades and is never cleaned.  The years I spent sleeping in that short single with my feet hanging off were because a bigger bed would’ve never fit. I shouldn’t complain, I never had to share a room with my sister after leaving California when we stayed in the military mobile home units. Not everyone got their own room as early as I did.

Anyways, this intro I was writing was related to my constant use of music to tune out the fights, and how I’d use music along with the deadbolt to protect myself.  Recently in a ridiculous display of immaturity, I tuned out a fight with an ex by putting on my headphones and turning up my music, continuing to cook while she yelled at me.  Moving around her as if she wasn’t there.  At work I instituted a “no bothering” policy if someone had their headphones on, and I was religious about ensuring the rule was followed.  How I fall in love with artists in an unhealthy and grandiose manner, listening and critiquing and picking apart every lyric, working my way through their discography and finding all the ways they understand my pain.  How I always protected the music I listened to and insulted others who didn’t appreciate it, or even worse, who listened to “untalented” musicians.  How a generation of us grew with up grunge, emo and death metal as we latched onto singers who could emote suffering because our parents were still at work or too tired to ask how our day was…or that emotions were not something to be proud of, questions were looked down upon and complaining was dismissed since it was “never really that bad” for us, our parents always providing us what they never had (so it must all be okay, right?).

The times where things have been good in my life, busy but with little stress, or emotionally level, my interest in music fades away. The alcohol remained but that’s a given.  Friends would be surprised I didn’t have new albums to suggest or didn’t have headphones around my neck. All of this I’m piecing together tonight, hopefully not jumping to any conclusions, and especially hoping I’m not weaving a story into an issue that was never there.  But it seems like music was my addiction before alcohol, and stayed alongside it for the ride but as a silent (terrible metaphor) passenger, there to give directions if things got particularly rough. It’s nothing like it was in my twenties, and that was nothing like college, which was nowhere close to the attachment to it in early high school, and of course doesn’t top my absolute obsession with it in middle school.  And it makes me think back to all the kids like me who went as far as altering their appearance to be like the singers they listened to. The bands were what they had to go home to, what they had to look up to, what they had to confide in and get advice from. They didn’t have parents around either. 

Leave a Reply