The other day a friend and I were trying to interpret this phrase: “We’re just friends, for now.” I thought this meant that this friendship was expected to eventually blossom into a relationship – good for them. My friend, though, saw this statement as the final death knell of a relationship about to disintegrate from tentative friendship into awkward conversation, unreturned phone calls, and disregarded Evites. I never thought about it that way.
This week I also got a copy of Frou Frou’s cd, “Details.” It was odd, because I had been listening to this album a lot back in October, when one of my colleagues passed away very suddenly. So when I heard this disc again the other day in my office, it brought back a rush of feeling that I hadn’t experienced in six months or so – nothing I can aptly describe, not even a sense of smell or sound, but rather a frame of mind and an awareness of my own existence in grief. (They told me she had died after I came into the office late carrying my rental tuxedo for our big banquet that night, an event she had planned – they told me and I dropped the tux and I couldn’t get my fingers to pick it up again.)
One song in particular stands out – it’s called “Must Be Dreaming.” It’s a great song, very jaunty, but with an undercurrent of melancholy buried in it: the love the singer is experiencing can’t last, it must be a dream, it is wonderful but it will end soon. Yet when I heard it I experienced it differently: the sad strain took it over, and whatever happiness the song still had came from the possibility that the grief itself was only a dream, that the death that occurred was too sudden and bizarre to possibly be real. Somehow this song has become a kind of anthem for her death and what came after.
Seemingly clear ideas that suddenly become wide open for interpretation – ideas that seem very simple and straightforward until you peer straight them through into another side – grief and loss and a fearful ambiguity. Oh, the vagaries of language.