I have been a Nirvana fan since I was a young teenager. The primal screams and pain that emanated from his throat spoke to me as a boy deep in the throws of the stereotypical “teenage angst”. Yes I had the ripped jeans, yes I had the Chuck Taylors, yes I had the long blond hair that tucked behind both ears, but no I was not unclean like my idol at the time portrayed. When In Utero came out I, and all of the other Kurt wannabes where I grew up, rushed to the nearest records store to pick up a copy. Each track was built tension and aggression, each song had its way of driving then soothing, only to drive the angst back up to end the song. Then IT came on, my favorite song by far. The journey into my head started with my old shitty walk-man, traveling up the wires, into my headphones, and instantly I was lost. “Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Seattle” was that track. Oh man, the guitar starts slow, then slides up, then back down, then I imagine Kurt stomping that overdrive pedal and slamming on his strings creating that Nirvana sound blowing the ear drums out of my head (no Kurt Jokes here). The words spoke to me through out but when he shouted, “I miss the comfort in being sad”, gave me shivers. A man who had created not only a rock-god legacy, was the idol to so many, just wanted to feel sad again. Now, being fully into the teenage angst movement that every generation of teenagers goes through even though we all think we were the first, I was at the time feeling sad. So yeah, Kurt and I were basically the same person with that line alone.
As the years went on my love of Nirvana never faded, I was the old guy still wearing the band t-shirts of his youth proudly as kids walked up, to my disappointment, and asked, “Who is Nirvana?” The meaning of some of the lyrics changed however, I didn’t miss being sad like I was. I had a wife that I was deeply in love with, I had two incredible boys that I couldn’t imagine my life without, we had a house, good jobs, and we were happy, why lessen that with the fear or even thought that sadness is necessary or right around the corner. I still listened to them, I still sang along to every song, perfectly nailing each lyric (typed sarcasm), but without the angst, it was different, it was just nostalgic. As I became older and life would throw something ugly my way I had other outlets (my kids, wife, and responsibility) that I could use to get through my troubles. I had support from people wanting me to be more than what I was able to be at that moment, I was forced to step up and shake it off quicker because of this and I was now someone who needed to support others when they were going through like experiences as I, so it was reciprocal. There was no time for feeling comfortable in a sadness or really in any emotion as you had to deal with highs and lows quickly because the next set of circumstances was right around the corner. We had our fair share as I have discussed in previous posts, but we always made them through together.
When she left I was sad which I think is the appropriate response to losing someone you love. What made it worse was that I had built up a 20 year inventory of music that I would listen to during the trials and tribulations that all made me think of her. I had nothing to listen to and no available music was even more devastating. The only thing I could do was either 1) discover new music (which I did) or 2) go back to music I hadn’t really “listened” to in a while (which I did as well). Out came the old records, in came new records, and I sat, for hours, listening for the emotional connection that I needed at this time, that fit my anxiety and the angst riddled, scared, depressed teenager that I had reverted to after she walked out of my life. There is only one sound that, to me, encompasses all of that and that is the Seattle sound. Some call it Grunge, others alternative rock, during this time I called it home.
The meaning of these albums came rushing back to me like the memory of someone who had amnesia. I remembered where I was, what I was doing, for every song. While my jeans bore no holes and my sneakers had the now necessary arch support someone my age prefers to have, oh, and I haven’t been able to maintain the same hair length as I used to (or any at all to be honest), I related once again. They screamed like I so badly wanted to. I buried the screams I wanted to let out in an effort to not worry anyone and hearing their screams was a way for me to live through them, if not but for the moment. When I put In Utero on for the first time I just sat and listened quietly as Kurt, Dave and Krist played song after song. Then IT came on again.
“It’s so relieving to know that you’re leaving as soon as you get paid,
It’s so relaxing to hear you’re asking wherever you get your way,
It’s so soothing to know that you’ll sue me, this is starting to sound the same”
These lyrics meant more to me now than they ever had in the past. They spoke to all that was happening but then to follow that with the line that grabbed me years ago “I miss the comfort in being sad”, shivers….again. At the time it was all so new, so fresh, the wound was just torn and there was no sense or ability to try to heal yet. It was all about being wounded, feeling lost, and living that day to day. These lyrics seemed to jump right into the pain and with all of their fiery aggression explode inside there deepening the scar that would develop.
As time moved further and further away from twelve/ five/ two zero one five, I found that those lyrics settled in, except I didn’t “miss the comfort in being sad”, I was comforted by the sadness. This sadness, as odd as this may sound, was not like a depressive state (although that is there), it was more a way of life, like something that was always just around. I could be having a great day while still feeling that inner sadness that lingering. I had become used to it. It isn’t like a toothache, or a stitch in your side that you could live with but was uncomfortable but more like having a smudge on your glasses. It doesn’t seem to hurt you but you can always see it. This “smudge” has been in my life now for so long that losing it would feel like yet another loss.
I feel this sadness protects me, sometimes in a good way and some times in a bad way. How does sadness protect? It is a tough question to answer without sounding like I have just built a wall around me and won’t let new things in because that isn’t the case at all. I have many new experiences, most of them I am alone for but some of them have been with new people, or people I haven’t seen in a while. It has protected me in being more cautious with whom I allow into my life. I know right now that I am not ready to create a new social circle, I know that I am still feeling vulnerable, selfish, and my desires to be around people aren’t where they once were. This smudge seems to protect others because of this. I am not the type of person to want to hurt others but right now if I spent time with someone but then don’t speak to them for weeks I could do just that. It is more about the fact that I am working through something and less a testimonial about the time we spent together.
I was once lived every day like it was a dream, one that I never wanted to wake up from. I was married to the woman that I had fallen in love with when I was just a child, I saw my kids daily, when all of that went away the pain was so excruciating that I almost didn’t make it through. I have become stronger BUT I have also become aware of my limits, which has grown my emotional intelligence. I know how to handle loss now better than I had before but I also know that I could not handle something like that right now and maybe not ever of that magnitude. It humbles me to the point that I now self regulate never allowing myself to become too up or too down about anything. This is also where part of the negative arises as well; I do not get excited about things much anymore. I look forward to them in the way one would look forward to buying a sweater, and I like sweaters but they are more of a nice thing to have but nothing that would provide the feeling like a kid at Christmas. That is how I used to get about many things but who knows maybe this is me becoming an adult. Maybe this experience has made me grow up more than I had ever wanted to and that I am not feeling sadness. Maybe I am just feeling responsible for my emotions in a way I had never felt before? Could I have wasted all of your time by even writing this? Who knows? Maybe I am just scared of ever feeling happy again like I once was out of self-preservation because they will just break me again right?
For now, I am comfortable in the sadness, it has become familiar, stable, and dare I say romantic.