Since You've been Gone.

Currently Listening: Dismemberment Plan - The City.

I decided I'm going to make this a theme week: Songs about leaving.

Today's is by a band that I've loved for a couple of years now. EKG mentioned them in passing somewhere and I fell in love with them after hearing The Ice of Boston in my dorm room in the spring of 2003.

The ghosts of graffiti they couldn't quite erase. . .

I guess that while I've never claimed Montgomery as my home, it is still the place where I developed most of my understanding of the 'city' concept. I grew up here, in a way.

I've always made fun of this place. I hate the malls and the drivers and meaningless ways that they pass the time and the fact that there is no real music scene and when music does come to town few people appreciate it. I hate the vapid, self-absorbed way kids my generation focus on themselves and the bitter, ignorant way that my parent's generation looks down on us all as exactly the same and lacking in taste and class.

And this is where I live, but
I've never felt less at home
So I'm not unsympathetic
I see why you left
There's no one to know
There's nothing to do
The city's been dead
Since you've been gone

In another sense I wasn't really raised here. After all, past the age of 4 I lived in a small town outside this city and had to combat the small town mentality that came with that location. In addition, during much of my formative years my family traveled heavily and so I became somewhat itinerant in attitude. A person with a flare for dramatic prose might have said that this unrooted pre-teen experience transformed me into a nomadic, wandering soul who no longer seeks to put down roots in the traditional manner. And they might be right.

Sometimes I stand on my roof at night
And watch, as something seems to happen somewhere else
I feel like the breeze will pick me up and carry me away
Out and over this iridescent grid
Up and away from the bar fights and neon lights
Out and away from everything that makes me what I am

But I cannot deny that I grew up here. That this is the place that despite my resistance and its own unfeeling, poorly educated culture, can lay claim to the title of "the city where he grew up."

This city is where I get my understanding of malls, subculture, dining, and art. It has provided me with my first perspectives (often skewed) on everything from ethnic cuisine to high-tech software development. It has foisted upon me a love of quiet spaces and green fields, but it has also driven from me a patience for the southern drawl and people with poor decision making skills.

It has been formative, even if neither the city, nor myself meant it to be.

There's nothing to do
The city's been dead
Since you've been gone

I guess in a sense I've been chasing something ancient since I was 13 years old. Every moment since could be viewed been an attempt to recapture something I let go because I "thought it was for the best." Perhaps it is a pattern only broken within the last year, and only through a bitter mix of cynicism and intentional distancing.

Maybe. I don't know.

Oh I never had just whatever it is you want, baby
And I really tried, I tried with all my might, it made me crazy
To try to figure out what it is I've done wrong every time
When everything I love, everything I hold dear
Heads out sometime
And all I ever say now is good-bye.

But the last year has been about breaking patterns and molds. The last year has been about escaping past errors and learning lessons. The last year has been about preparing to move.

My roots are drawing up. . . my mooring lines are cast off. My time is coming soon.

And all I ever say now is good-bye.

It will be your turn soon, Montgomery, to say good-bye to me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


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