nearly lost you

by s.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the release of the “Singles” soundtrack, which almost stupidly changed the lives of most of us when we were a certain age. It’s hard to imagine life without “grunge”, or the overblown Seattle record-label frenzy that led to the signings of so many pop and punk bands in the midst of it all. What started with Nirvana for me expanded easily to the Fastbacks, the Gits, the Posies. To extend those loose connections toward every road I’ve ever taken is not particularly difficult. (Per last post, it may in fact be necessary.)

I’ve been listening to a lot of Mark Lanegan; I’ve been thinking a lot about people. It’s been seven or eight years since I learned that the most important thing I can do in life is play favorites. I mean this in the sense that if something happens to you – if there is a crisis of any kind, be it health or faith – the people you play favorites with are gonna be the ones who step up. Alternately, they will let you down, and in that letting down you will know that it’s time to redirect your energies. By letting you down, they’re letting you go. This is not nearly as terrible as it feels.

Like any good fate worth its salt, “Nearly Lost You” has followed me since it came floating back into my consciousness in June. I’ve heard it at the Whole Foods in Tribeca and at a head shop in Cape Cod. I sang it in the street to Sean, who claimed he’d never heard it, only to find that in fact, he hadn’t. I’ve reminisced with Alexis about how crazy it is that we didn’t know each other when “Singles” came out, because we’ve shared so many other sonic milestones in the past. It becomes comforting when songs and artists follow us like this, particularly because they do so in the face of change.

About that change: It is, quite suddenly, fall. I don’t know where summer went, exactly, but I do know that most of the people I love had one of the worst ones on record. People aren’t supposed to die in summer; their lives aren’t supposed to be irrevocably disrupted; they’re not supposed to slowly watch themselves drown in piles of work and stress. They’re not meant to fall out of love in summer. Winter is the season wherein we traditionally hold each other up; there was no roadmap for real summer heartbreak. And so, we had to make our own. We built a support system out of drinks and snacks and sunshine. Every time I felt tired, I made the two-hour walk home from my office each night, and I felt more able to hold my end of the bargain up again. It all went by very fast, and now it’s fall.

Until I fell in love with heat and humidity and the beach, fall was always my favorite season. I don’t think of it, now, until it’s upon me, and then suddenly I’m batting my eyelashes at it with wild abandon. I want to bake everything, I want to go hiking, I want to mop up stew gravy with fresh baguettes, I want to hold hands, and I want to make as many things as humanly possible. I want all of the sunsets and to never take off my motorcycle boots, and where I thought summer was meant to be full of possibility, I see now that I’m wrong and fall is where it all starts to happen for everyone. I have been thinking very carefully about the summer and its ills and how there are a handful of people to whom I’d like to write overly effusive love letters. Every favorite I’ve ever played came out in full force and now it feels like time to return the favor. I have also spent a good portion of the summer quietly thinking about art, commerce, what makes “good” literature, and food. Now that we’re all back from the beach, here’s hoping that some of those things will come into sharper focus as the weather starts to get cold and we need to feed our brains as quickly as we do our faces.

Like pumpkins, hot toddies, and accidentally falling in love, an appropriate playlist is an absolute necessity of fall. All of the food and all of the favorites will need a soundtrack, and it will probably include the Screaming Trees, because even in the middle of a sea change we find that it occasionally makes sense to hold very tightly on to our scattered beginnings.