Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's in an anthem?

On the episode of Glee that focused on anthems, among other things, we witnessed the character of Loren Zizes singing, “I Know What Boys Like”, which she called her anthem, because it spoke so well to and about her.  If that’s the definition of an anthem (and it really isn’t on any level) then before two years ago today, my anthem would have been Uncle Kracker’s “In A Little While.”  To me, the song speaks to every level and age plateau in life, at least for those with a hole in their lives.
“Here’s to the good life, or so they say”… an expectation of the best being yet to come.  “All those parties and games that all those people play”—what to expect and what we should hold as an end unto itself.  “They tell me this is the place to be”… and these are the best years of your life.  “All these beautiful people, and nothing to see”: the realization that it’s all a façade and nothing of substance.  I felt like this was my life, first high school, then college, then when I moved to Lansing as a young adult; I’d finally gotten to where and when I was told that I needed to be to really enjoy life.  Of course, I knew from my Christian upbringing that this wasn’t necessarily going to be true, but I still hoped that the sentiment would still be truer than it had been before, and be less of a lie, that reaching a certain age meant a leveling out of how much life sucks.

But the bridge, or second half of every verse, is the part that really made the song mean so much to me.  “Sometimes I feel like something is gone here, something is wrong here”, something’s missing and it sure ain’t right that way.  Then where he sort of exclaims, “I DON’T BELONG HERE.”  Not just the line, but also the way he sings it.  You just want to scream, “THIS IS NOT WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE!”  Similar to the way Freddie Mercury screams/sings “LET ME OUT” in “Under Pressure.”    I can’t tell you how many times I just felt like I didn’t belong where I was.  Every dayjob I’d had since leaving college, every group of roommates (except Edwin), at the radio station during the day when almost none of the salespeople had any clue who I was—even at church of all places, where I felt out of place at the various ministries I was in or tried to be a part of, or during the early morning service because I was the only one under thirty not with their parents or in college, or at the later morning service where I wasn’t moved by the contemporary praise songs to lift my hands to Heaven (that’s more my problem though… I was raised in a conservative worship tradition, and raising hands still feels weird to me).  I did feel comfortable at the evening services, which were smaller, but even then that was only when I could make it.  Going back home to my parents place to visit, I felt like I belonged at home, but there was always the issue of how I didn’t feel comfortable in the rest of the town just because it’s changed so much over the years, and even being at my parents’ place carried the reminder that I’d soon have to drive back to Lansing, so there was no point in getting too comfortable.  Which bridges nicely into the line, “Sometimes I feel like a stranger in town”… duh, not just my hometown, but Lansing too.  I was supposed to have been just passing through.  “And I’ve lost what I found, it’ll all turn around.”  Maybe just about having to make sacrifices to set the things in motion that you want in motion and in the desired vector.

“In a little while, I’ll be thinking about you.  In a little while I’ll still be here without you.”  For me, the desire for love and to be loved.  “You never gave me a reason to doubt you.”  Can’t have a reason if you don’t have they who’d give you the reason. 

“On the other side of the coin, there’s a face, there’s a memory somewhere that I can’t erase.”  Past love?  Past memories?  We’ve all got them, and they still come back to us.  “And there’s a place that I’ll find someday, but sometimes I feel like it’s slipping away.”  The destination that you feel called to, but that’s coupled with the doubts that you’ll actually arrive there.  And the last verse.  “Some things are lost, some left behind, some things are better left for someone else to find.”  Let the past be the past, and have someone else learn the lessons for themselves, too.  “Maybe in time I can finally see, I just wonder, wonder do you think about me?”  Maybe I’ll get over it, but are you struggling with the memory of me as I do with yours? 

As I said, this was my theme song.  I identified so very strongly with that song… up until two years ago, when I finally found the nerve to approach a girl I was interested in.  And eventually I got her interested in me, too.  It’s proven to have been the best thing I ever did.  This girl has turned my world upside-down.  I mentioned a bit of it last year in a blog on this date, but it’s still true, maybe even truer, to think about how she’s just changed my world.  I’m now living on the other side of the country, making plans to move to another country to be with her.  This year has definitely been a harder year for the both of us.  But I believe I can speak for her as well when I say that this past year’s struggles were much harder and nearly tore us apart a couple times, that we’ve both had to step up more and work harder to make this work, but that we’re also both happy that we did and happier to have each other in our lives, and that we very much look forward to a life together, a future, an eternity.  And any time I start to doubt it, all I need to do is call and hear her voice, even if it’s the recording on her voice mail, and everything returns as to how I know we belong together.  And I don’t know if she’s ever felt any kind of creeping doubt (at least not since I moved to Washington), but hopefully there’s something about me that she just needs to see or hear again to spark her memory about how much I love her and how much she loves me. 

So, sorry Uncle Kracker, your song is no longer my anthem.  I still love the song, but it’s no longer as meaningful as before.  This woman has made me feel like I belong somewhere, that nothing's wrong here, what's best lost and left behind has been, and that I am indeed getting close to the good life.  I don’t know what my anthem is now, probably don’t have one (at least not one that I’ll readily admit to), but it’s not a song about depression and resignation, and it probably won't be "Smile" either.

And to you, Erica, my love, Happy Two-Year Anniversary.  I’ll always be thankful to God and to you for your presence in my life.  I love you.

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