Death Cab For Cutie :: Transatlanticism (2003)

Today I closed my eyes tight and contemplated what album I wanted to feature next in my favorite albums, and this one was the first to come to mind. I recall the day I bought the album, how I tore open the plastic casing and threw it in to play in the car near immediately. I vividly remember my first reactions to the songs, how some of them cut so deeply so soon, and how others fluttered around in the ether, waiting until a later listen to leave their mark. There is not a single song on this album that is not full of a torrent of emotions for me.

So here I am, today, with this CD slipped into the player, ready to take that musical memory journey for yet another favorite album of mine. Following are my three sentence reactions to each song:

The New Year

That opening line delivers quite a punch of truth, speaking to that naive self that is ever wishing for fresh starts and changes that a new year promises to be, and the inevitable disappoint that is always sure to follow. I am definitely known to pin too many hopes and dreams on things like first days and new years, often setting myself up for a fall, and yet I end up doing it again the next time a new year, or other significant milestone comes around. I keep wanting to believe that things can change and that dreams are possible.

Lightness

There was this blue dress with white flowers that I used to wear. He told how much he loved it one early morning, grabbing hold of me, spinning me around and then pulling me close into his arms, kissing me passionately. I wore it when I stood on the tarmac saying goodbye, a small rip in the side seam where his hand had been, snagging it accidentally in the midst of a kiss, a tear I would never repair because of that memory of you.

Title & Registration

Breaking up in a parking garage, the fumes of backing up cars making my eyes sting and my mouth go dry. You were asking for another chance, again, pleading one moment, and screaming hurtful words the next. You never realized how much it killed me to be the one to say “I can’t do this any longer”.

Expo ’86

Second guessing and hesitation, these are not always natural of me, instead I tend to be rash, leaping off cliffs with my arms outstretched, heart dangling from my sleeve, ever-believing in the promise of love. In-flight is when the doubts begin, though, and all the over-thinking, my old scars whispering past disappointments to me, my heart sinking before I even start to fall back to earth. Despite it all, I still tend to believe in love.

The Sound of Settling

When I got on the plane I finally opened up my left hand to release the tightly folded note that you gave me as we said our goodbyes. It was full of promise and future wishings that I wanted to believe, but the flight was long, and my heart sunk deep from the weight of self-doubt and loathing. I settled instead on safety, tucking the note far away, in a box, because I could never bring myself to actually throw it away.

Tiny Vessels

This song breaks my heart into tiny pieces. I thought I had your heart and that you loved me like I loved you, but I was wrong, I meant so very little to you. I was just a passing thing, an extended vacation in sunny California carried on a little longer on your side of the water, a scintillating affair that you always meant to leave, breaking me along the way, whether you meant to, or not.

Transatlanticism

There is a certain pain that accompanies long-distance relationships that no one can truly understand unless they too have been in one. That kind of loneliness that hollows out your insides, echoes of missing and longing rattling about until you want to wail and cry at the top of your lungs, begging and pleading for the world to shrink, or for wings to appear on your back and carry you quickly to that other person’s arms. It nearly broke me loving someone that way, and I still carry the scars that that kind of distance leave behind.

Passenger Seat

Driving away from the Christmas tree lot, tears in my eyes as I watched the city go by outside of the window, this was supposed to be are next best chance at something better. We would leave a few days later, snow falling onto our over-packed car, our son in the backseat sleeping, the girls on a flight back to a place we had not wanted to call home any longer. I needed you to hold my hand and guide me through it, but you kept both hands on the wheel, and your eyes straight ahead, saying nothing to me.

Death of an Interior Decorator

Infidelity and hidden tears were just a symptom of what had already broken between us. I had no more words to explain why I was so unhappy, and you had waited far too long to ask me why I was so sad all the time. I was witnessing the end to our vows, sinking into shark infested waters wishing for you to pull me back in and help me to fall in love again, and not continue this drowning.

We Looked Like Giants

I was far too young to even know how to tell you no. You stung me with your words, with your hands, with your lies, and as I shattered into pieces you threw promises you had no intention of keeping at me. In the middle of the night you would wake me with kisses, alcohol and cigarettes on your breath, and the smell of motorcyle fumes choking me, but I held on and kissed you back, hoping this was really love.

A Lack of Color

One of my favorite songs ever, of Death Cab, and of all songs completely. It is the most beautiful and bittersweet of love songs, and speaks to real love, and real heartbreak, that I have had and felt and been deep within. I close my eyes and listen, taking in the dancing images of embraces and kisses and falling in love, and falling out of love,  that I see, that this song evokes, and promises.

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