I used to be friends with a girl who was way more into music than I was. I think most people are like that; my tastes are pedestrian mostly and I can go weeks without listening to a song that isn't played on some store system. But she and I were friends and we were the enmeshed sort of friends, and it was exhilarating and troubling and it was the frame of my life at the time. I could not conceive of living otherwise. If you are a woman, you have probably had a friendship like this at one point or another. When someone meets a certain tipping-point level of friend criteria, it's so irresistible to sail in and get all Anne-and-Diana, isn't it?
The friendship and the enmeshment aren't the point of all this, but the music is. We were friends when David Bowie toured with Nine Inch Nails and she loved David Bowie; he was her forever man and let's be real, this is as much a sign of her good taste as her love for me, right? There was no way she would not go, and I liked Bowie well enough, liked Nine Inch Nails, and yes, I would go with her. I don't remember precisely when or how, but it was in the context of this event that she said something like It's always good to have a thing like this to look forward to, you know? Like "I have to live until the Bowie show, I can't let anything get in my way until that." Then you just find something else a few months away that you have to live for.
This was not a girl given to suicidal thoughts. Of the two of us I was the more dour and cynical. I don't remember how I reacted at the time, but it stayed with me, decades now. (Auld, auld, to be thinking of things on a timeline of "decades" and yet have them feel so close and large and warm.) The girl didn't--didn't stay with me, I mean. I broke our enmeshment myself for a dumb reason. Aren't they all dumb reasons? I was overflowing what I thought was the shape of my life, which no longer had space for the shape hers had become. So ridiculous, so short-sighted, so mean of me. Given the chance now I would break any shape and make room for her, I would be as generous as she always was for me. I remember us driving away from the amphitheater after that show into the dark, wondering what was coming next that would be good enough to live for.
This is a long way of saying that I bought concert tickets today. There are lots of reasons for me to keep going every day besides the obvious stubborn insistence of my body continuing all of its biochemical processes and reactions. I have not taught my mother-in-law the carrot soup recipe! I have book club meetings! I have that stack of paper I have to shred! But when I'm running for a bus and my boots skid on ice and I (hopefully) catch myself before I fall, I'll swear in my head and remember that I have a place to be in a few months. Maybe I'll be more careful. Maybe just better.