This song speaks to me. Is that bad?
If you’ve never heard it, t’s about dragging one’s self through an awful situation with some glimmers of hope. It’s about Young Man Anger and resentment, and making promises to yourself about how different things will be… later, always later. When will the good times begin?
But the narrator (probably not 100% autobiographical on the part of songwriter John Darnielle, although perhaps there are some truthful bits—he’s a talented storyteller, but he’s also an adult man, so who can say? I haven’t been able to find any comment from him on how much of it is based on his own life) is also missing some of the good things in their life. Cathy, for instance, although the narrator treats her, like most young men, as an adornment and recipient of his need, rather than a person.
The narrator also has enough freedom to own a car. Somehow has gotten a hold of some booze—probably stolen from the off-screen but looming stepfather, he who does not approve and with whom the narrator comes home to fight.
I’ve been that angry young man, with some differences. My Cathy was named Amy, and we mostly didn’t have a car during the three years we were together. And it wasn’t a stepfather, it was my own dad. But I did steal booze from him, and Amy and I would steal weed from her mom, and we’d sneak off and dream and rant about how things were going to get better someday.
And, lean in close, because I have a secret to tell whoever is reading this (thank you for that, dear reader): for no good reason, I have that same angst and anxiety right now. I feel trapped. I shouldn’t, but my brain is clearly stuck in a fight-or-flight mode. I want to quit everything and just run away into the sunset. This, my rational brain knows, would be bad. I need some income. I need my health insurance—not least of all, I need health insurance to get my brain sorted out, quieted down, brought back into alignment with my overall goals.
It’s a battle inside my head, between flight (quit everything, hide, run far away where noone can hurt you) and fight (stay, dig in, throw metaphorical punches at the negative voices, build on the positives). I know who I want to win but there it is.
If you got this far, know that I am seeing a therapist, and have a doctor’s appointment for a physical (in case this black cloud has some biomechanical/biochemical cause), and at least this time I’m aware of the scope of the problem. I’m aware of it because, to no one’s surprise, I’ve faced these feelings before. Mostly running did not turn out well, despite some incredibly good luck. Most recently, I survived thanks in part to a large insurance settlement, offered to my complete surprise years after the accident that shook me to my core, oddly enough; what goes around comes around, don’t you know?
And this time?
I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.