I used to live with my ex-boyfriend in London. One night, after a boozey evening in Manchester—during which I had performed a moving rendition of swan lake before jumping off a stage only to sprain my ankle—said ex-boyfriend picked me up, put each one of my feet atop each of his and grasped me tightly around the waist. We swayed from side to side to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” while a girl in a polka dot dress and laced brogues puked in the corner.
He leaned down and whispered in my ear, “this is the song I want to dance to at our wedding.” It was the last song of the night and his breath stank of rum and cigarettes but it was still the most romantic moment of my entire life.
Eight months later we broke up and I moved home to Melbourne. As if walking away from The One wasn’t painful enough, I had to give up another great love—Karen O. And I love Karen O. Not the way I loved my ex-boyfriend of course, more in an “omg-I’m-front-row-at-the-Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs-concert-and-the-guy-next-to-me-is-dripping-perspiration-into-my-mouth-and-I’m-screaming-so-hard-my-throat-is-bleeding-but-I-don’t-care-I-just-want-to-do-it-more-and-oh-no-here-come-the-hysterical-tears!” kind of way.
So not only did I lose the man I thought would some day fulfill all my biological urges and most cringe-worthy romantic fantasies, I had to give up a song I used to bawl through a hair brush in front of my bedroom mirror during the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep, wearing my makeshift Karen O cape (bed sheet) and headdress (pillowcase). What at one time had been so joyful to me was soured by that exact same joy. The sound of a song that once comforted me, (and allowed me to entertain myself when all alone in my insomniacs delirium) now only caused distress. I even had to remove the track from my music library to avoid inevitable shuffle induced ambushes.
Music has always been a very important part of my life, enduring the comings and goings of boyfriends, but I never realized how important it is to keep good music out of relationships until recently. Sure, I’ve had boyfriends and meaning-riddled songs and breakups since I was in high school, but somehow Bon Jovi power ballads and the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack were much easier to give up than the songs I love now.
It’s been almost 2 years and slowly I’ve allowed Maps to creep back into my life. I have to admit, it took an epiphanic experience at a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert where Karen O literally reached out and touched my hand for me to finally Let Go Of My Issues. If not for that experience, I probably would have washed my hand in the weeks directly succeeding that concert—or worse, I may have lost Maps forever.