Take This to Your Grave, Track Four: “Saturday”
Late Sunday morning, I watched the film Take This Waltz. I remembered people saying nice things about the film back when it was released, and after watching Stories We Tell on Saturday morning, I was intrigued by what Sarah Polley had to offer as a director. If you aren’t familiar, Take This Waltz is a film about a 28-year-old woman who meets someone new and begins to question the choices she’s made in life. There’s a scene where she and that someone take a trip to a theme park and partake in one of the rides. As the ride goes on, the two people are happy and having a grand time, surrounded by bright colors and cheery music, swirling around and around on the ride, then it stops. Something like fluorescent lights come on. The music is cut off. And the two people sit in their car, waiting to be let out, silently, uncomfortably. The camera holds on this moment for quite some time. We were just having a good time, and there’s still some runtime left on the film, but for now, we’re just waiting with the characters to be let out so we can go somewhere new.
It’s a scene informed by something the main character states in the first few minutes: she doesn’t like being in the middle of things. Take This Waltz is a movie about that moment, that wait between the one thing and the next, and how the main character copes with being in that moment. It’s not that her life sucks. Her husband’s a little closed off, she’s writing blurbs for pamphlets instead of actual Things, she’s eating entirely too much chicken, but none of those are reasons to blow it up and hit the reset button. Yet — spoilers for a six-year-old indie film about ennui — she does, and had I seen this film six years ago, I probably would have hated that decision. I would have hated this movie. It’s just a bunch of white people who have problems, who gives a shit. And while hypothetical 21-year-old Bob has a point, as a 27-year-old, I understand this film, and I feel like this film understands me.
It’s a film that speaks to me just like “Saturday” did when I was half as old as I am now. As Take This Waltz is a movie about being in your late 20s and realizing you’re actually going to have to turn 30, “Saturday” is a song for people who are living life not knowing they’re ever gonna turn 30. It’s a tribute to bad decisions, to not knowing what to do with yourself or where you can go but pointing yourself in a direction and shouting “TALLY HO!” It’s a song about being young delivered by those in the throes.
Where I come into this song, and I am well aware of the irony of saying “where I come in” when the fourth word of this post was a first-person pronoun, is as someone who is no longer young. I’m young, in the grand scheme of things, I’m over 10 years from 40 and can still jump over large puddles without feeling sore in the morning, but I’m well aware I have precious few years left to consider myself “young,” and with each passing day I believe more and more that I’ve misspent my youth. Listening to this song doesn’t help. Listening to this song is to listen to a tribute to fucking up and rushing headlong into bad ideas. I’ve done that exactly once, I quit a stable job on an impulse, but it didn’t feel like a risk, because it was an impulse informed by years of thinking I should quit my job, an impulse supported by a nest egg kept for years and the fact that this world is built to find homes for mediocre white men. The closest I’ve come to going nowhere fast is using my 100 WPM typing speed to write these posts. I’ve never gone for anything golden, I’ve been content to believe in the motions I’ve been going through.
One understands the folly of wanting to live like 2003-era Fall Out Boy when they are a relatively stable 27-year-old mortgage professional. This was one of the themes of Take This Waltz: you only get to fuck up so many times before people question what you want out of life. When I left Target, people could say, “Well, yeah, he left like a shit, but who wants to work at Target forever?” If I leave the mortgage factory, people should say, “What does he want? He’s 27. He shoulda figured something out.” But it might make sense. I am not a mortgage professional, I am not cut out to care about assignment chains and worry about title claims for the rest of my adult life, but how many times can I justifiably hit the reset button? Am I really going to risk getting stuck in World 1 just because I got a little stuck in World 3?
I understand that I just utilized a speedrunning metaphor to discuss my life, and that also I took this speedrunning metaphor from my phone and put it into the Medium text editor where it will wait for publication to an audience only tangentially aware of speedrunning because that is one of my most-preferred YouTube holes. Can I have a moment? I thought that writing this would make me take writing more seriously, that holding myself accountable to a schedule would improve my habits and make me better, and here I am, riding the manyth consecutive Thursday night lightning bolt to a finished post because I wanted to watch Marios. I got 30,000 words deep into the first draft for a thing before getting stuck on one scene and haven’t touched it for two weeks or so, and I got an album deep into this Fall Out Boy blog before sloughing it off. (The pop song reviews are goin’ a’ight, tho.) All I am as a result of this blog is the same undisciplined fuck I was three months ago, just one who is now SEETHING WITH RAGE at remembering his friends never sang in their rock bands.
I’m not happy with myself. This song doesn’t help. This is one of my favorite songs, a song I can hear crystal clear in my head from ~15 years of listening to it at inappropriately high volumes, and I’m only realizing how bitter its vision of youth makes me. Young people. Goddamn young people. (Every member of Fall Out Boy is older than me.) I spent almost the whole of my youth with this song as a guide, and as something like 30 approaches, I find myself realizing I failed to adhere to the plan. The ride isn’t over, but I’m at the point where I should be thinking about the next thing I wanna see in the park, because guess what: