There’s a scene in commercials or in movies or in television shows where a guy or girl is standing somewhere in the world and there’s just a blur of action around him or her. Cars and trains and people are whizzing by, a kaleidoscope of lights and faces. In the background light goes to dark and back to light again as time passes at this same blazing speed. Everything in the world is racing by as this one person stands in the middle of it all. Standing still. Not going anywhere.
That’s how I felt today. It started with a trip to Target. I discovered that it’s no longer the Target that I fell in love with. They have changed and evolved, but for the worse. Target is now just another Wal-Mart. Prices have gone up while quality and selection have gone down. I bought two long-sleeved t-shirts and a pair of pajamas. But while exiting, I realized that $36 for these things that I wasn’t even really excited about was not really a good deal. So I returned them before I even left the store. So no more Target. Then I went to Michael’s for some autumn-scented candles. They must have contracted with a different manufacturer because these candles did not smell good at all. Gone are the wonderful candles that filled my home with pleasant, warm aromas. In their place were cheap-perfumed candles that smelled like ass. Literally. So no more Michael’s either.
It capped off with a listen to Death Cab for Cutie’s most recent album. I remember reading an article in Spin magazine about this album that came out several years ago. It said that lyrically, Ben Gibbard strayed away from the previous album, indicative of his new life in LA, married to Zooey Deschanel. That previous record (Narrow Stairs) was too dark, he says now, and that he’s somewhat embarrassed of it. And when I read those words, my worst fears about Death Cab for Cutie came true. I wondered if Ben Gibbard would lose his melancholy sound, that sound that has always comforted me, since he got married. And he did. I guess now that he’s been married, he’s leaving that melancholy, and people like me, behind. I guess my only hope while I listened to his gleeful “Stay Young, Go Dancing” was that their divorce will return him to his melancholy genius.
And it was in these moments that I felt the world rushing by me in a blur. I was that guy or girl standing out in the world watching cars and people and time pass by me at blazing speeds. I realized that I always feel left behind. Of course it’s natural for him to write songs that reflect a new phase in his life. Of course the band can’t pull month-long work sessions in a studio anymore because they all have families. Of course people don’t think about making Friday night plans with me because they have husbands or wives or families to go home to. Because all these people are changing with time. They are growing and adding on and reinventing their lives. And that’s wonderful. But I’m still here. I’m not growing. I’m not adding anything on. I’m not reinventing my life. I still have exactly the same life I did 10 years ago. Exactly the same. Meanwhile, people I know have moved, gotten different jobs, gotten boyfriends/girlfriends, become engaged, gotten married, had kids. And all the while, I’ve been here, standing still in the same place watching all this pass me by. People move on and products move on, but I’m still here. And the sad part is that I need those things. I need Ben Gibbard to be melancholy. I need Target to be the store it used to be. I need the warm aroma of pumpkin spice. Because these are the things that give me comfort. They are all I have. And it feels so lonely to be left behind without even a thought, as if my existence and my appreciation for these things mean nothing.
Ben Gibbard may be embarrassed of Narrow Stairs, but I think it’s great. You can’t see your dream, you just can’t see your dream. ‘Cause her heart was dying fast and she didn’t know what to do. With a single pillow underneath your single head. So tonight I’m not inhaling the warm aromas of autumn while wearing my new pajamas and being excited about the most recent Death Cab for Cutie album. Instead I’m smelling the pleasant scent of a lemon meringue candle that’s almost gone while wearing old pajamas from two years ago and listening to Narrow Stairs, Death Cab’s older album. And that makes me happy.