I was reminded the other day while listening to Jacksonville City Nights (for the umpteenth time) of an old man that would predictably visit his wife’s grave every Sunday afternoon at the cemetary on Park Drive where I spent a good portion of my high school life. Barb and I would always lament this man’s sad demeanor, the length at which he would gaze upon her headstone silently, his dedication to the dead. I never spoke to him, only watched him from Kent’s porch. He must have really loved that woman. . .
His undying dedication got me thinking about the idea of the muse. I truly think muses are underrated in today’s society, especially in America. I mean, we have American Idols, celebrities, and public figures, but all we usually do is demonize them and pick them apart to somehow compensate for whatever it is that we are lacking in our own lives. I’m talking about a real muse. Someone or something that just grabs you so tight by the balls and drags you into every achingingly beautiful and heartfelt part of yourself that it feels like sometimes you could physically puke. I pity people who don’t know what I’m talking about.
I have had a deep connection since junior year English class with the Romantic Era of literature. I identified with the textbook definition of a Romantic poet, because it felt to me like I should have lived in that time. I should have commisserated with those writers. Those people. It was one of the first times (besides listening to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) that I felt like I wasn’t alone in my thoughts, and that even if I was, I was ok. Joe and I watched Bright Star the other night and seeing Keats’ dedication to Fanny Brown, his muse, on screen was just gorgeous. It wasn’t so much the romance that I identified with, but the longing. I have always been a dreamer, creating scenarios in my head, too afraid to actually let those thoughts come to fruition. I have always…yearned (to quote Seinfeld).
When thinking about the concept of a muse, I feel liberated again. It’s ok to be moved to tears by someone else. My muse is Ryan Adams. I don’t care how that sounds, but his music (particularly that done with the Cardinals) has ignited something creative and passionate inside me that has been dormant for a long time. It disappoints me, however, because he has basically retired. I don’t know if I will ever get to see the Cardinals live and that just crushes me because I know it would be otherworldly for me right now. I listened to the music the most while I was pregnant with Eliot and I haven’t stopped obsessing about it since. It symbolizes such a large transition in my life and I can honestly say that I can see it carrying me much farther into the future. This music is adulthood for me. It makes me feel so heavy and full of life, even though sometimes it stomps all over me.
If there is anything that my husband Joe has fostered in me, it’s my intense and creative side. He encourages my obsession. He thrives on passion and I am so thankful that I can openly celebrate the things that used to be so intensely personal with someone else that understands. I honestly think that I am his muse, though I have never asked him and I don’t know what he would say. Though I would never wish it upon either of us, I am pretty sure that he would visit my grave every Sunday.