A Person, Not A Picture Of One
by Noise Pollution
I’ve written and posted a few songs about the way my ex would see me; how she generally saw me as whatever the hell it was that she wished that I was and not who I actually was. For a time, that was enjoyable. I mean, the first couple of months… maybe weeks, actually, I got to feel like a goddamn rock star. That’s what she thought I was back then. Eventually she would go on to be disillusioned about that, but the fact that there was an illusion to dissolve in the first place was pretty frustrating. Had she not decided that I was this cool fucking hipster punk-rock whatever-the-hell, she wouldn’t have ever been disappointed to find out that I wasn’t, and maybe she would have sucked away my joy and happiness and humanity for a little longer than she did.
But that’s not the only way she stole my identity from me. I never really realized why back then, but hindsight is 20/20 and I can see a lot of the reasons why I was so goddamned depressed when I was with her now, years later.
And yeah. It has been years, and yeah, I’m still talking about it. She was my “big” ex. Everybody has one, I think. The one that never really gets out of your psyche; the one who ruins all of your subsequent relationships just by being there as a memory. I am so goddamn afraid to get close to people nowadays. I barely even let myself feel affection for people anymore because of how that relationship ended. But I’m digressing again.
This particular ex never let me have my fucking music. I’m not actually talking about the music that I write; aside from just being a part of my life experience, she had very little impact on that aspect of me. I was even comfortable writing negative songs about her and posting them, partially because I valued my art more than her and partially because she was so goddamn dense that she never realized what they were about. What I’m talking about is the music I liked. I couldn’t like a band, or even love one, without her becoming obsessed with it. If I liked some new song, she had to like it ten times as much as I did and dig deep and find out when the band was touring and buy a shirt and holy fucking shit I said I LIKED ONE FUCKING SONG BY THEM AND YOU’RE ALREADY DOING THIS SHIT GODDAMMIT STOP.
She couldn’t just like the stuff I liked, she had to possess it. When I discovered and fell in love with The Front Bottoms for the first time, she had to own them. They were her favorite band. No one else liked them as much as she did, as far as she was concerned.
And she didn’t even fucking get it. I love their self-titled album because it describes the burned-out post-highschool doldrums I was stuck in at the time. She was going to college; she had shit to do. My friends and I, we were just wasting time. We were wasting it on purpose, because it was the only thing that felt right, but we weren’t trying to move forward. We were just trying to move away from the rest of the world. We were doing drugs and drinking and picking up smoking habits because there was nothing else to fucking do, and finding something truly productive to fill our time with felt like such a mockery of what we stood for in high school that we couldn’t bear to do it. And The Front Bottoms’ self-titled album describes that perfectly in both sound and lyric. And she wasn’t a fucking part of that. When I asked her what it was about them that she liked, I never got an answer like that. It was always about the catchiness of a chorus, or Brian’s voice, or she’s say something vague about them being “deep.” She fell in love with them because she had a chance to like an indie band , and that was “cool.” I fell in love with them because the vibration of their sound was perfectly in sync with every molecule in my body.
But, you know, she had fourteen of their shirts after knowing about them for a week.
And look, I’m painting her like a total psychopath because I’m leaving out the good stuff. There was good stuff. She bought me a good amount of memorabilia from bands I liked, and tickets to their shows. She drove me places because I hate driving. We had, you know, sex and stuff and it was bad sex but it’s not like I was any good at it so I can’t really blame her for it and sex is still pretty awesome no matter what especially when you’re nineteen. And we didn’t fight until the end came. Maybe once or twice. But fighting was not a part of our relationship, for three whole years.
But I’m only mentioning that stuff to be fair to her, and to paint a slightly fuller picture of her. She wasn’t a picture book villain or anything, she was just kind of a narcissist and did everything she could to convince you that she wasn’t.
But god, the way she took these bands away was legitimately hurtful. I ache about it even now. Music is such a huge part of my identity; to claim it as her own was really… I don’t know the word for it. The word I want to say is “controlling”, because it felt very much like a part of me was under her thumb.
But it does make it so much more satisfying when I hear something now that I know she isn’t listening to. Especially when it’s as good as what I’m about to mention.
Ben Folds has a new(ish) album out called “So There”, and it’s fucking fantastic. And if the song Not a Fan is from his heart, then Ben Folds fucking hates my ex-girlfriend. And it’s so goddamn satisfying to listen to a song I love, know that it’s a legitimately great song by a fantastic artist, and know that she isn’t sitting somewhere obsessing over it.
The album is fucking beautiful, and if you haven’t listened to it yet, DO THAT. This song is my favorite. It kind of describes exactly what I was just bitching about, and does so eloquently and over one of the prettiest piano parts I’ve heard in a while. And the very last line Folds says just ties it all together. Listen to the whole thing.