I just drove back from my dad’s house after a long day of extended family and tasty side dishes. It’s finally starting to get cold, and I kept having to turn the windshield wipers on, even with the defroster going full blast. The roads were wide open, and Chris Pureka’s “Swann Song” was playing in my CD player. It’s upbeat and sad at the same time—smoky-voiced, nostalgic, sing-along-able. It embodies late autumn perfectly.
Chris Pureka is a new discovery, brought to my attention by a mass email from B, who likes heartbreaking girl folk singers, and who broke up with me a year ago this weekend.
A year ago this weekend I could not peel myself off the floor, and when I finally did, I ran five miles and hardly even felt it. I thought about that self tonight (maybe because earlier in the day I was listening to Pink’s sweet but less spectacular “Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self”) and I felt so sad for that self, and loved her so much.
She had no idea what was ahead of her—that a year from now she’d be so thankful for what fate enabled, so in love with a new girl who was an old soul but liked to stay out late, so full of love that she worried she’d become one of those people who walked around talking about how full of love the world was. For that one-year-ago self, the world was, possibly, still full of love, but suddenly she had nowhere to put it. She suspected things would be okay, though, and that thought was a little scary. What did love mean if you could heal from it? How unromantic—a world in which mothers could die and people could leave you and your heart would just slowly stitch itself back up and go about its business.
From what I know of the spiritual side of quantum physics (courtesy of What the Bleep Do We Know?, You Shall Know Our Velocity and The Time of Our Singing—creative types love this stuff), theoretically all possible futures exist simultaneously. In a parallel universe, B and I are still together, working things out or not, in Indiana or maybe Philadelphia, because maybe she got into Wharton in that universe.
Right after we broke up, it was really important for me to believe that things could have worked in a parallel universe. Not so much because of quantum physics, but more out of a stubborn need to be right, to not have wasted four and a half years.
I know that time wasn’t wasted, not even in this life. That past had to happen to get to this future, and that past was a good present in its time, in its way. Still, I am glad to be living this particular present in this particular universe.
“It was a good life,” Chris Pureka sings in “Swann Song,” “I’d do it all again, I’d do it all again.”
I put the song on repeat, and cried and cried, but then I was home and it was time to go in.