Sunday Songs: Waxahatchee – “Air”


Every so often, a song comes along that, for a day or a week, is the only sound my brain can acknowledge.1

This is one of those situations, but this isn’t one of those songs.


Last night. A hug goodbye, a half-mile walk home, straight up a hill and back down the other side. Just long enough for three listens.

With some songs, it’s the lyrics that resonate, and “Air” is half of one of those. “When I am gone, at least I won’t be thinking” sticks out, the kind of thing I would have written in my Livejournal a dozen years ago, or perhaps in this space next week2, but it’s the exception. Like its namesake, “Air” is ephemeral, a swirling collection. The tone of Crutchfield’s voice and guitar. The haunting backing vocals, like wind through my home’s window vents on a stormy night.

Last night’s themes, amidst the cacophony of hipsteresque mini-golf: My oversharing, her over-apologizing. There was no need for either of us to feel the way we did. I assuaged her guilt as best I could, repeatedly asserting that I understood what happened, that others had done worse, that I knew what happened was a possibility from the very start. It still is, again. Maybe.

I felt awkward from the start, but not in the usual way. New, uncertain boundaries led me to overcorrect, to talk of others in a way that deliberately broke unwritten rules for situations which, we had already explicitly determined, this was not. But the honesty and the apologies and the boundaries swirled together, and created some sort of storm of excessive truth.

In one of those moments, while in line to putt our way through a maze of lasers, I mentioned how I saw a therapist for a few months a few years ago. And, while I know plenty of people who’ve had success with therapy, in my case, it took a bad situation and made it even worse. The problem, I explained, was that I never felt like he had any thoughts which I hadn’t considered already.

What I didn’t say was that, in our small, scattered sample size, I’d had the opposite experience with her. Whip-smart to an incredible degree, self-doubting to a fault: Her? Me? Both of us? What I know with certainty is that we are both curious people in a world that lacks them. When I told her of last weekend’s trip to Chicago, of how my mom and sister stayed in the safe, touristy places while I found my own paths, she was as exasperated as I.

The problems here are myriad, beginning with time and space, and continuing on to less Gallifreyan, but no less significant, concerns. We’re imperfect people in imperfect places, intellectually compatible, with the possibility of anything more questionable at best. That’s the thing, though: Most questions have answers. And, while I have no idea what it might be, I think we’re smart enough to find one.

  1. Most memorably, I listened to Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” on repeat for about three straight days after Neon Bible came out.
  2. Or somewhere in this post.

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