Whatever music is to me. Whatever it is intended to mean. There’s this thing.
Sometimes a song comes on. I’m walking to the metro, let’s say. And it comes up. Sometimes it is a contrivance. Sometimes it is a randomization of things I like. But there it is. And all I want to do is dance.
Understand this: dancing comes in at least two forms. One is the club-style, dance party flow of limbs to a rhythm, a flailing of parts to a beat, or sometimes NOT to a beat, and it doesn’t matter at all as your moves become a part of the thick air about you, and then a part of the mass of flailing bodies in your proximity, and then an undulating section of the entirety of the room, everyone poorly moving and swaying, so heartfelt, to the beat of the song, like some giant supple organ pulsating in a random room.
I wish I had learned to dance the other dance. The expressive dance. The beat-matched, collapsing, smothering, emotive dance. Sometimes a song comes on, and I just want to fall to the beat.
But I can’t. Much like the things that happen in everyday life, I am ill-prepared and untrained to handle the overwhelming desire of the thing.
So I can’t dance the way I want to dance. No big deal.
It’s really about Synechdoche, New York.
Did I ever tell you about Maddy? I wrote a vignette once, about a zombie who lived behind the furnace in my basement. Despite her overwhelming desire to devour my flesh and, whatever her resolve, to turn me into the undead, we actually fell in love. Things were complicated by her ex-boyfriend, a werewolf with keys to the basement entrance to the house. But on the whole, we were happy in our existence … two beings, so raptly hungry for one another, for every bit of each other’s being. She was the best girlfriend I ever imagined.
Did I ever tell you about Maddy? She was an undead rogue. She fumbled through 60 levels, achieving success through sheer “showing uptitude” and the occasional blue drop. She had some funny mannerisms, and emoted high-fiving before high-fiving was actually added as an emote. She connected, and on some level she got it, and by the time she retired for the first time, she was on top of her game – once called “one of the best rogues on the server.” She was the best avatar I ever controlled.
Did I ever tell you about Maddy? Sometimes, with the headset on, we’d talk while we conquered the Firelord of the Molten Core. Lex was there. And Nyella. And Riki. And Maddy. Despite the gender difference, I never had an issue responding to the name – that was my toon, that was my persona, that was me. Later on, I might be on an alt – Maddrithal or Maddrock or Maddisen … but I was always Maddy. She was the best handle I ever procured.
Did I ever tell you about Maddy? We went to a far-away shelter to meet a cairn terrier. I grew up with cairns, and I wanted one so badly … as if any dog would ever capture the magic of Mac. So we met a little rascal, and we loved him. We put in our papers. The shelter worker was all business. “You’ll be fifth on the list for him,” she told us. “Fifth? Do we really stand any chance of adopting him?!” “Well, to be honest, between families not having the right conditions to adopt him, and other situations, you might stand a good chance!” “What other kind of situations?” we asked. “Well, many people get put on the waiting list and get discouraged, so they go to the city shelter and find a dog they can adopt that very day, so they don’t want the wait-listed dog anymore!” “That’s horrible! These things take time and you need to be sure the home is right for the dog!” is what we said.
And then we headed straight to the city shelter.
We split up. I came upon a small Boston Terrier who had just been neutered. He sat in his enclosure, bleeding, laying still with his head up, whimpering. A pool of red was forming below him. I went for help. When the attendant came by, she was not concerned. She said this was normal. I wanted to cry. So helpless.
Shmi waved to me to come down the corridor to another enclosure.
I saw her for the first time at the back end of the enclosure. She was clearly timid. Her eyes! …
She approached the fence, rubbed up against it. I reached in and pet the fur and skin pressed up against the cage. Her tail was a pom pom. She cheered immediately.
When they brought her outside the shelter to meet us, she did not hesitate. She approached immediately, anxious for more physical contact, for more approval. For love. And she received it.
As we signed the papers, as she paced anxiously on her thin tether while I signed and paid, the shelter-worker told us how sad she would be to see this dog go. What a wonderful dog this was. And what would we call her?! She suggested something very foresty, like Hunter! Or Scout!
I turned to Shmi. “Do you think we could call her Maddy?”
She was the best dog I ever knew.
Everything is an approximation of something else. None of it is original or inspired.
And yet every single bit of it is unique, and perfect, and separate, and itself.
Did I ever tell you how much I miss Maddy?
I wish I knew how to dance.