Sea Change (2002) :: Beck
It was an exes’ best friend who left this album behind, stuck in among my music collection, after one of the times he came to stay for an extended visit and then up and disappeared. I was in the midst of an emotional breakdown, one might say, though at the time I thought it was just another day in April. Sometimes distance and perspective minimizes the pain, but sometimes it heightens it. I had gotten so used to loss and loneliness that I no longer felt it, but I can see it so clearly now, the aching shell of a girl that I had become back then. Listening to this album brings it back into focus, reminding me of the day I pulled it off the shelf and listened to it on repeat, feeling returning slowly to my limbs, breath labored but still there, the proverbial “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” egging me on.
Sea Change was coined a darker, moodier release in comparison to the seven studio albums that came before it. It is an album chock full of heartbreak and desolation, solitude and loneliness, and yet to me it brings a sense of calm and collective to me. Perhaps it is the comfort in knowing you are not alone in your rougher moments, that we all have a collective emotional landscape that sometimes veers into the land of the breakdown. For me, the accidental introduction to Sea Change came at just the right time. It was like a giant musical band-aid to wrap myself within until I was stronger to rip it off my tender skin. Since that afternoon in an April now past it has become one of my Favorite Albums, and following you will see and hear why.
I could hear the road calling to me from just outside our bedroom window. We had made it half way across the country once, and I was sure it was the best solution to make a return trip now. I missed the ocean more than I ever thought I would, and I even missed the city I had run from, even though she had betrayed me so many times before.
My fingertips were pink and swollen, paper cut after paper cut leaving tiny gashes, a tell-tale losing game of tic-tac-toe. The room downstairs was locked, with you on the other side, never sober anymore. Sometimes I sat cross-legged on the other side trying to hear if you were still breathing, never quite sure if I had anything left to say.
Guess I’m Doing Fine
Still my go to song when I am doing anything but fine, this was my first favorite on Sea Change. I clung to it, trying to breathe it in, as I walked, and sometimes crawled, through the days. I had stopped crying all together which I took as some kind of positive sign, though in hindsight, it should have been a red flag warning.
Something about this track reminds me of the music of my childhood, the late night heartbreaking songs that would trickle out of my clock radio set right up next to my bed. I still had sleepless nights even though I was much older and so much farther from those nights of my youth so fraught with fear and loneliness. My past still haunted my nights, sometimes it still does.
Had I let my eyes open completely I would have had to admit that it was over. We had nothing more to fight for, yet we still had our fists raised, our swords drawn, and our interchangeable suits of armors put on backwards. I think we were both too afraid to admit defeat, or maybe we still did really believe.
End of the Day
I filled the bottom drawer of the dresser with torn sheets of paper, all of them filled with things I had written before we had come to this place. I could not seem to throw any of it out even if I could not read a single word. The girl on those pages she would never have approved of the girl I had become, so I compartmentalized her, boxed her up and shoved her in the drawer, dividing myself into more selves (again).
It’s All In Your Mind
I still wore the hospital wrist band for weeks after. There was something about removing it that would make the loss that much more real. You soothed your pain with bourbon, but for me it was that bracelet, and the slow transition of locking up the unforgettable somewhere in my mind.
Round the Bend
Some stolen afternoons we found our long lost common ground. We would lie on our bed in that basement room, all the high windows propped open, the Spring air stealing in along with the dancing tendrils of sunlight. We hardly spoke in those moments, but still, we said volumes to each other in those languid moments.
We heard the death rattle shaking off in the distance, its sound like a coming storm. As a child we were taught to count the seconds between the claps of thunder and the bright streak of light in the sky, but I had stopped counting weeks before. We were fading quickly out of focus, but in some ways, well we were already gone.
In the back of the closet was my old backpack from when I was still in school. It was stuffed and ready in case I needed to run. The Sunday aftermath from all the clanging and banging and screaming I awoke to hear it calling to me, by name, in the back of that closet.
I crawled further down the bed, pulling the duvet up and over my entire body, going completely fetal in an attempt to turn into something smaller. The world seemed too loud, too chaotic and far too big for me to survive in. Loss has a way of shrinking you into something fragile, breakable and little.
Side of the Road
When we left it was in the mid-Summer heat. I watched the house where it all passed away fade into nothing in the rear view mirror, feeling regrets, but no desire to return. With the window down I let the wind slap at my skin, mouthing the words forget and forgive into the passing scenery, leaving behind these prickled shards somewhere on the side of that highway road.