The Velvet Underground - Stephanie Says
RIP Lou Reed. It’s been thirteen years since I first heard this song, but it remains my favorite.
random european man paid for my pastry, unprompted, at the hungarian pastry shop.
can T-Pain write a song about this? (shawty snappin’) all I’m saying is, the key to approval is much closer to covering a girl’s tiramisu than buying a shot of god knows what.
— Alice Munro, “How I Met My Husband”
Vienna Teng - Recessional (Live @ the High Line Ballroom)
Nine years after first coming across Vienna Teng, I saw her live last Friday in New York. At the beginning of the set, she played ‘Recessional,’ describing it as an ‘older’ song. And I thought: older? Oh… from 2006… I see. Time can be slippery.
I never listened to this song as much as I did when I took a two-week break from high school to decide on a college to attend, falling asleep at a string of East Coast airports that gave an accurate preview of the dismal April weather for the next seven years (and counting) of my life.
What I associate most with ‘Recessional,’ though, is making decisions. When I say that high school boiled down to such decisions… I’m not sure that’s entirely true. My high school experience was, to put it lightly, all fucked up due to moving, Hurricane Katrina, moving again, saying goodbye to friends that changed me for the better, moving back, and leaving behind so many things that I felt numb. Everything was involuntary, everything was based on situations beyond my reach. I allowed myself to be carried by inertia to the next thing: another city, another life, another story.
In picking a college, all I felt was the pull, a switch that flipped the other direction, a gravity that made it impossible to make any other choice. I had been tugged across two continents, three countries, and endless cities. Still. Now, I had something of my own to shape into what I wanted it to be.
The story has a happy ending. Brown taught me that I didn’t have to compromise opposing sides of myself. I could do ‘it all’ in a way I could define, without biased teachers, without classmates who lived to assert their illusory superiority, without an annoyance that one never notices when it takes its absence.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever drink the law school kool-aid. Perhaps it’s a side effect of growing older, but every disappointment feels more acute, everything I think I gave up weighs more heavily against the uncertainty of a life I closed off. There’s always opportunities to turn back, but the fact that I’m not even that tempted sometimes worries me. Yet, hearing this song live, I felt as though I were a 17-year-old girl traversing through airport delays again, carving a tunnel sans worries about where I’d find an opening. I guess I miss her more than I remember.