Friday, June 14, 2013

30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), Day 14: A Song You Associate With Breaking Up

I have a whole complex theory about breakups, the first and most important axiom of which is that breakups hardly ever "take" on the first time.  As a rule, if you've been in a real relationship with someone-- meaning, first, that you've invested a significant amount of time and emotion into the relationship and, second, that you've gotten to the point where your lives (friends, family, stuff, memories, home, schedules) are genuinely shared-- then I figure that it takes at least three tries for a breakup of that relationship to really stick.  The first try is the one where you immediately discover that you don't know how to do anything by yourself, so you go running back to the safe and familiar the first time you feel lonely.  But you find, alas, that what was broken is still broken, and although the rapprochement has given you a few nights/weeks of that familiar touch, it only makes the next parting more laborious and excruciating. The second try at a breakup is usually the ugliest one, because you both know you should've never rekindled the flame and so whatever other hurt you already felt is now augmented with shame and regret. This is when the claws come out, you say the hateful things you shouldn't ever say, your friends start being honest with you about your poor judgment, you slowly begin to think of what used to be "ours" as instead "mine" and "yours," and eventually you find that all the time you spend together only verifies and intensifies the feeling that this is not what I want.  It's between the second and third (i.e., "real") breakup that you resign yourselves to the inevitable, like watching a snowman melt.  It's going, it's going... and then, mercifully, it's gone.

I think that when a relationship finally dies, people have one of two reactions: either they focus their five stages of grief on their lost love, or they direct those emotions at themselves.  I count myself among the latter.  As a rule, in my life, I haven't remained "friends" with my exes.  Not out of any kind of abiding anger or because I don't think they're good people or even because I don't still love them, but only because the relationship we had was in a very special and very unusual category.  For me anyway, with very few (almost no) exceptions, those kind of relationships are just non-transferable to another category.

Enough with the amateur psychoanalyzing, though.

I picked today's song for two reasons.  First, it's a song from an album that one of exes gave me on our second try at our breakup, so it's actually a song I associate with an actual breakup.  But, second, this song captures the general sentiment that I feel after a breakup, which is something much more damning of myself and my inclinations than it is of anyone else.  Here it is, "I Fall in Love Too Easily" by Patricia Barber:



I didn't know this at the time I first heard this song, but "I Fall in Love Too Easily" is an old jazz standard, first introduced by Frank Sinatra in the 1945 film Anchors Aweigh. It's been recorded by many of the great jazz musicians over the years, but Barber's version will always be the one that hits home for me.  Her rendition is so quiet and so tender, and it captures just the right amount of vulnerability that the song requires. It is, after all, a song of self-reckoning, of owning-up, of looking at oneself in the mirror in the cold light of day and recognizing where one's fortress is weak.

My heart should be well-schooled / because I've been fooled in the past / but I fall in love too easily / I fall in love too fast

That just about sums up the whole emotional content that I associate with breaking up.  And, for the record, that goes for all kinds of breakups, not just romantic ones. 

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Nostaligc?  Check out my entry for Day 14 from the 2011 version of the 30 Day Song Challenge

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