It’s January 15th today.
January 15th marks an anniversary of sorts. Sort of a second birthday.
It was a day that had to happen. And at the time, like an expectant mother, I knew it was coming. I just….didn’t expect it to happen when it did. Because it happened much too soon after I realized it was coming. Where I was thinking it’d be years, it was mere days.
The January 15th in question was a Thursday. I was seventeen….in fact, I had been seventeen for exactly ten days. (There, now you know my birth date.) We were living in the townhome along the lake in the Chicago suburb. And it was the final day of first semester final exams at school; contrary to popular belief, final exams had nothing to do with what happened.
At the time, it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough of anything. Despite the family’s hardships, we never lacked anything, and of course we’ve always had each other. Despite my pessimism, my dual afflictions (both professionally undiagnosed at that time), and the downward spiral I was in the thick of, I was optimistic, and could always see the upside to things. In fact, my credo at the start of that particular year was “Everything is going to be fine” – I had said so out loud while taking a walk on New Year’s Eve. So, having said so, I would have to make sure it all did turn out fine. I was maniacally gleeful about that, too.
Despite everything, I always dared to hope.
No, at the time, it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough.
It was that I had too much.
Too much had happened. Too much was happening. Too many thoughts and feelings. Too many promises and possibilities. Too many choices laid out before me. I could see myself making my own way, getting ahead, doing all right despite everything that had happened. For the first time in my life, I saw I stood a fair chance of obtaining everything I’d ever dreamed of. If I wanted it. And I did, oh, yes, I did. (Funnily enough, one of the many catalysts was my short story “New Year’s Eve”….but that’s another story for another time….)
I had too much to hope for.
And I just could not cope with that.
Knowing that, it’s not like you couldn’t figure out what had to happen. And what did happen. As if calling it a ‘second birthday’ wasn’t telling enough….
But, you know, the less said about the rest, the better.
I am not proud of what I did, but I am not ashamed of it. The vagueness is not shame. It’s just some people I know (mostly family, and they do read this) are still bothered by the fact that it happened….and that’s an understatement. And any other person wouldn’t understand why I did it.
Which brings us to the music. Well, that’s what you’re here for, anyway.
Today’s Tune for Tuesday is a song called “Courage,” subtitled “(For Hugh MacLennan.)” It was originally done by The Tragically Hip, on their 1992 album “Fully Completely.” The song was covered by Sarah Polley, with an assist from composer Mychael Danna, for the film “The Sweet Hereafter” and also appears on the film’s soundtrack. Both versions of the song are excellent. But for this post, you’re getting Sarah Polley’s version, because I heard her version first.
I didn’t hear this until several years after that January 15th. When I first heard it, I immediately thought on everything that had happened then. And I wished I’d had this song at that time. Because I sure as hell needed it.
Simply put, this song was that time for me.
Make of it what you will.