By Then

Your evening tea-and-ginger-nuts habit has adhered dispite all the anti-tea sentiment in America, and you’re almost out, so you take a quick walk over to the store in the close clinging night. Sleeveless, still, two weeks to Christmas. The palm trees really do wave overhead and the full moon really does shine as you walk along, earbuds in, flip-flops flopping.

Drink the tea, eat the bickies, get bitten by the baby kitty, talk to your mom. Brush your teeth and wash your face and say goodnight; get into bed ridiculously early so you can keep your date with some incomprehensible Netflixed British television. Email a friend in California. Wish you had a cool accent. Think about your errands and chores tomorrow. Try not to count the days until you might get another package in the mail, try not to worry. Look up at the ceiling fan and try not to worry some more.

For reasons best known to yourself check your blog stats and find that someone was reading your old breakup mix entry from, what, four years ago now, almost? Wonder who is Googling for sad songs and what that person’s mix will look like. Pulling up that playlist feels like blowing the dust off a forgotten stack of LPs in the back of an attic but listening to those songs puts you right where you are now, right back into your skin. Here you are, in another bed in another room, another life, listening to music in the dark, in the middle of the night.

Try to cry, a little, just to see. Laugh instead. Thirty-three, unemployed, wearing striped underwear and an oversized purple octopus shirt from Sonic Boom a friend gave you over the summer. What a figure of tragic romance! How deserving of melancholy and sad sad music! Look up at the ceiling fan, look around in the dark.

Tell her not to go, says Del Amitri, again and again. Sorry, Del, but you’re going. Oh, if you knew then, that first time this song debilitated you, what you know now. If you knew now what you’ll know the next time you can’t sleep, in the next bed in the next room in the next life. Surely something will have changed by then. Surely everything will have changed by then.


  1. You know that sort of good painful twisted up gut, laugh-cry feeling you can sometimes get from listening to old meaningful songs or watching certain (very few) scenes in movies?
    That’s how this made me feel.

  2. Don’t worry, Missus. You’ll be OK. Even if there are visa problems, you’ll work around them, you’ll find a way.

    You’ve been awarded major brownie points for maintaining a dignified stiff upper lip re recent events. This we respect. It is the demeanour of a mensch and a mahad.

    Go forth and conquer.