While cleaning recently, I came across an old cd case from my college years. Half the sleeves were filled with R.E.M. albums. It made me stop and realize something.
I never listen to R.E.M. anymore.
But I used to, obsessively. Michael Stipe was the one person in the world who seemed to understand the yearning that squirmed inside of me. And if that thought makes me smile in self-condescension now, it really shouldn't. His voice was my lifeline.
Art is sometimes a lifeline.
After college, I moved to Athens, Georgia for a year. Ostensibly for other reasons, but I wasn't fooling myself: I was there for the band, and the mystique conjured around their hometown. I was there because of the kudzu-choked cover on R.E.M.'s first LP, Murmur. I was there because I was searching blindly to know who I was, and what I wanted, and I followed the only thing that felt true to me.
I wasn't any less lost in Athens, Georgia than I was in Athens, Ohio. In fact, I moved back home after 9 months. It was my first real-world experiment in trying to make a fantasy a reality, and I failed, miserably.
But I don't regret the trying.
I still love that music. It still blows me wide open. But I can't hear it now without also feeling trapped by who I was then. I remember an unhappiness so complete I didn't even know to call it unhappiness. I didn't know. All I knew was fear.
I'm not that girl anymore.
Eventually, the band broke up.
But this blog owes its name to them. And that time in my life when the kudzu began to clear.