Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Just Got a Letter To My Soul

Scintilla, Day two prompt: No one does it alone. Write a letter to your rescuer or mentor (be
it a person, book, film, record, anything). Share the way they lit up
your path.


I promise after today I won't do any more song posts. 

It was September of 1993. I had moved from Hamilton where I did my undergrad to Toronto to do my Master's at U of T. I had been living in a house with four other people; now I was sharing a tiny apartment with my sister, who I hadn't spent a whole lot of time with in the past four years. My boyfriend was still back in Hamilton.

I remember sitting on my bed in my bedroom on the 25th floor, looking out the window and feeling...peculiar. I wasn't worried about my courses, exactly, or missing anyone, precisely. It was more that I felt untethered, dislocated, like I didn't really fit in here yet but realized I couldn't go back to where I had come from. The future was completely unreadable, and I was terrified. 

It was kind of a rough year. It was the beginning of my really hardcore sleep issues. I got some undiagnosable skin infection that kept eating up my face and I walked around looking like a burn victim. There was a pool in the apartment building, and I love swimming, but I barely swam the entire year. Often I felt like the air was screaming around me and I couldn't quite hear it but I couldn't quite ignore it either. The following year when I finally got a doctor and described this she went "Hello - sounds like massive depression, have some pills". 

Seems totally clear in retrospect. But considering the Student Health Services doctor I saw only gave me 2 millilitres of cream for a massive infection that, when I wandered into the walk-in clinic down the street, made the doctor go "Holy shit - antibiotics and steroids RIGHT NOW", it was highly unlikely she was going to be inquiring into the niceties of my mental health.

When I was too agitated to read or write or deal with people, I would sit at my desk and play solitaire on my computer for hours. I had a CD player on a stand right beside my desk and I would listen while clicking repetitively.

The song was Virginia Woolf by the Indigo Girls. 


"When my whole life is on the tip of my tongue
Empty pages for the no longer young
The apathy of time laughs in my face
You say
Each life has its place".



It was like my entire soul could finally take a deep breath. 

I never enjoyed Virginia Woolf's novels until after I had read her diaries. The novels seemed impenetrable and slightly cold. The diaries were blazing bright and heartbreaking. Then going back to the novels felt like continuing a conversation. I feel like I'm so much like her, except she had staggering literary talent and I have better drugs. And children - I wonder if having children would have saved her, or just made it all worse. 

Anyway. There are a lot of people that helped me through that year. The walk-in-clinic doctor who looked about twelve. The dermatologist. My friend Janet. A really great Canadian Lit prof. The man I would later marry. But for one weightless moment when I actually believed again that everything might be okay, it was Virginia Woolf, and the Indigo Girls. 

Oh right. This isn't reallly a letter. Oh well. Also, I haven't been listening to music enough lately.

8 comments:

Stereo said...

Who cares if this wasn't a letter? It was honest and brave and I am so glad that you found solace in Ms. Woolf those years ago and I am happy to be reading you now.

Amanda said...

Music used to be so important to me when I was younger. It still is, but it SPOKE to me more then, you know? I'm glad that song helped you so much.

Betsy B. Honest said...

I love this post. This isn't the backstory I had for you in my head. I'm glad you're the person you are today, however you got here.

Patti said...

This was lovely and hard to read. I'm so glad you had the strength, help and drugs.

You amaze me.

Patti said...

To clarify: This was hard to read because the despair and dislocation made me want to curl into a ball, but it had a happy ending, so I could cope. You know me and sad endings. I hate crying.

Also, I was friends with you before these people. Not that they're not fine people. Just sayin'

Nan | Wrath Of Mom said...

I loved the Indigo Girls. And I love that even though I'm now aged there lyrics are still powerful and meaningful. Unlike Ani DeFranco's stuff which now seems trite, melodramatic and hollow.

This was a great post.

StephLove said...

I've had this very song in my head recently.

My youngest started kindergarden this year and it took me until the middle of the school year to realize I could play music, OF MY OWN CHOOSING all day if I want. Some days I want. It's been fun.

My partner struggled with depression and anxiety from the time she was 10 until her late 20s when she went on medication and we've been together since we were 20 so I have an inkling of what it's like, even without direct experience. I'm glad you're in a better place now (except that makes it sound like you've died which isn't what I meant at all.)

Sasha said...

Music never fails to transport me, and I never fail to forget that when I need it most. Thanks for the reminder.

Also, for the tip about Virginia Woolf. My reading list just got longer. STOP IT. :P