for Cliff Watson
Sometime yesterday, I read this interesting take on the things that connect us to the human experience. It was a blog post by someone who had seen The National at Red Rocks earlier this summer. You know what? Hang on. That has to be easily googled or found in my history. Okay, so here’s the post: http://bit.ly/GG5ZUY
It seems the woman’s name is Heather Browne. She has pretty great taste and gets to live a life that’s close to her favorite music, which includes The National. In her post on that Red Rocks concert, she talks about how The National provided a soundtrack for her life at a particularly vulnerable time, how she was connected to the band in a visceral and inexplicable way from the first time she heard them.
She went on to say that a friend of hers had once explained this “straightforward chemical connection” like this: “I think we have sockets in our backs, really complicated, like, 35-pin sockets, and sometimes something or somebody plugs right in and there’s no real explanation. Or rather, there is, but it would be memoir-length.”
I understood that metaphor. I understood it when it came to The National. I understood it when it came to writers and artists and athletes and people and other bands. There are some things and some art and some people that have been there your entire life from the moment you’re introduced. They plug into that complicated socket with ease and no resistance, where each pin and its vacant partner greet one another as if they were made for one another. Because they were.
I’ve never met Erica. I don’t even remember how we became familiar. I have to assume it was through Favrd. It doesn’t matter. Over the years, I’ve read her tweets and reflections. I’ve listened to her and Ben on their very funny (and no longer produced) podcast, “Arrive Having Eaten.” I’ve watched as she’s developed a relationship with a wonderful guy and landed a sweet job that she loves.
And I’ve read her poetry. All of it. Multiple times.
I don’t like poetry. At all. I was a fiction writing major in college. It took me a carton of cigarettes and a couple of gallons of Guinness to get one decent paragraph. I was fueled by tobacco and booze and drugs and angst and anxiety and all of the shitty things you do to people and yourself when those things are in your personal gas tank. They seemed to be as much a prerequisite for being a fiction writing major as reading Raymond Carver and Don Delillo and faking an understanding of Ulysses.
Then there were the poetry majors. They didn’t make eye contact. They never saw the sun. Their work was rarely more than a single page and required a kind of mental cryptography to have even a cursory understanding. I was simultaneously jealous and full of loathing when it came to everything about them. I didn’t “get” them or their craft.
I don’t remember the first poem of Erica’s that I read, but I do remember the feeling it gave me. It was like no poet or poem I’d ever met on the page. I loved it, but I had no words that described their resonance. “Warmth” and “knowledge” and “comfort” were the closest I could come until last night. Today, I’ll say that I have a 35-pin socket that Erica’s voice fills. And I’m a better person for it. Thank you, Ms. Minton.
Not even sure what to say.
I love the internet, for one. I love the connections I’ve made through social media and little more.
Sometimes I stop writing because I think too far ahead— no one would read my book, I would never be Poet Laureate— but all I’ve really every wanted was to make one person feel something like this. Just one. Besides mom.