The Short List of Things I Love
I was sitting in my kitchen thinking about all the things that I love. Not people, but specifically places, items, and feelings. Things I’ve consumed or heard; maybe once, maybe a million times. Things that have drawn me in so closely, I have no other words to prescribe to them other than love.
I wanted to start with my earliest of memories, and tumble forward with a treasure chest of fragmented moments that consumed me with adoration, with a sense of either yearning for more or complete content and satisfaction. I didn’t have a marker for those moments. I react to so many things that I love, or praise highly very differently. So when I grabbed my pad of writing paper, to start a physical record, I settled on things that made me cry. Because I think that’s my love in it’s simplest form, when the height of my adoration for any particular thing exceeds my emotional capacity to maintain composure.
The list starts with one of my earliest memories at the ballet. Due to a mildly traumatic childhood I don’t remember a lot of details; I try to forget them as best I can, as soon as I can, so as to not revisit the things that make me upset. But I do remember crying at the ballet. It was Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center. I was bizarrely comfortable at that age with orchestral music and classical dance in their own rights. Countless sonatas were the soundtracks of my childhood summers, because that’s just what my mom liked to play and physical performance had always been apart of my life.
But in that dark room, when I saw the two marry each other in front of my own eyes, I was in a state of euphoria. Beautiful black bodies caressing the stage, painting each stroke of a bow and strike of a key, animating music that had only lived on a page until that moment. And then tears fell from my eyes. At that age, I don’t think I had ever seen something as captivating as what I saw on that stage until that day. Something that both demanded my attention yet simultaneously had me begging, ‘please don’t ever let this end’. I think I could still watch them dance every waking moment of every living day for the rest of my life.
With the power of beautiful music in mind I thought of more instances of music that made me cry. There’s a lot of them. But only a handful that I truly believe changed the way I see the world, and hopefully the way the world sees me. My list makes for quite an eclectic playlist of songs that include: The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645 ( arranged for the Mandolin, Cello, and Double Bass) composed by Bach, 4 Your Eyez Only by J. Cole, Aunque de Noche by Rosalía, A NINGÙN HOBRE by Rosalía, Purple Rain by Prince, Breathe by Pink Floyd, and quizás a few others.
But for some reason there is one piece of music that ranks as an unmatched title holder of all that I am and have ever felt. All my hopes and dreams for myself and for the world. My legacy in life and in death. A myriad of my wants and wishes wrapped into one melodied parable. I’m not being dramatic; all that I want and have ever wanted is generously wrapped into one song in an effort so beautiful I want to rip my heart and soul out so as to relieve myself from such wanting of everything the song represents, every single time I hear it. I won’t name what it is, it lives as mine, but I think everyone has a song that makes them feel like that. Or at least everyone should. But therein lies a few clues.
There are other storytellers whose stories I’ve fallen in love with. Both on screen and in print. Though, there is something intrinsically magical about stories that come together, and fall apart on a page. I take pages everywhere I go, and inherently fall apart and come together with them.
The first book that I fell in love with, actually in love with and cried over, was To Kill a Mockingbird when I was maybe eleven. I cried over absolutely everything in that book. I cried over the theological and societal allusions, I cried over Lee’s genius use of metaphors, I cried over the arch of the bildungsroman, I cried over the parallels I drew to society, I cried over Tom Robinson’s, “No suh, scared I’d hafta face up to what I didn’t do.” I cried when I realized that I, too, was a Mockingbird. I cried and cried and cried because it was my first real book. The first book that told me something honest and truthful about the world around me. And I absolutely loved it. I’m certain I think about that book every single day of my life.
I ran down eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped, you hear me? And in the middle of that office building, do you hear this? I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw — the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am!
I think I love the books that make me uncomfortable with the way that I see myself the most, because at least it begs me to ask greater questions of myself. Urges me to continue more thoughtfully, with more sincerity, than I had before.
In less words, I have fallen in love with a few poems. Most unfortunately with volumes of a particular writer I am ashamed to admit that I like. But alas, a series of poems here and there. Langston Hughes’ Theme for English B in the same way I am in love with To Kill a Mockingbird. Daddy by Sylvia Plath. An Almost Made Up Poem. I like the idea of hearing short bits of what genius minds have to say, without knowing too much. So that I can, with ease, super impose my every struggle into their words and narratives, and follow the trace of their genius in every line and every stanza, so that perhaps by the end I can arrive at some sort of resolution that lies in the logic of another mind other than my own. Other times I just like to hear what love feels like from someone else’s mouth, and I fall in love with that.
There are moments that are miscellaneous. Feelings of love that don’t align with a book, or song, or performance, or movie (though most fall within those categories). Blips of time and space that I adored. Moments I revisit every day, moments I don’t revisit enough, moments that don’t exist in recorded history; just roaming around in my mind.
I fell in love with playing the piano at my first piano lesson, and I love it so much that I still play as much as I can even though I don’t share it with anyone. I used to play recitals, then I down-sized to community spaces, and now — just my room. Maybe one picture exists of me near a piano, but countless memories of songs I’ve learned, people I’ve played for, and thing’s I’ve composed will continue to live with me, just for me.
I fell in love with a pit-stop I took in Maryland on my way to another destination and it still lives and breathes as the most beautiful place I’ve ever laid my eyes on. A rocky valley illuminated by the golden touch of the setting sun, trees dancing in the wind, and painted colors of pinks purples and blues touching the sky. I didn’t photograph it, but when I close my eyes I can still picture it clear as day. I don’t know where it is, or what it’s called, but I can still transport myself back to that place in that moment, where I stood over what felt like hundreds of feet before rock below, and took in the most breathtaking view of my life. And of course, cried a little.
Then there are moments I took for granted, moments that feel like they will last forever. Sunny summer evenings reading in my backyard with the birds humming over the rush of the river at my feat. And the sun beating down just enough for it to be enjoyable. Afternoons that felt like centuries of heaven, that only actually existed for a few hours. Crying because I couldn’t think up anything more perfect than that and it was just too much. Moments that don’t live on my phone or on a camera, moments that I assumed would never end but are slowly running out.
This is the short list of things that make me feel a lot. A random collection of an endless mass of articles that I would like to make at least an effort to track.