This week, there is a prompt about a song that really affects us, and while I don’t have the obsession over music that some people have, I do have one song that… I don’t know. I have a visceral reaction to it. The first 20 seconds of Pearl Jam’s “Nothingman,” affects me like I didn’t know a song could. Even as I listen right now, as I sit here and write this… My heart clutches and it’s hard to breathe. I close my eyes and shudder a bit. I feel like a balloon with the air suddenly sucked out.
No matter where I am or what I’m doing, when I hear this song, I’m immediately back in a darkened house in the dark wee hours of the morning. I was a different person that night and at that point in my life. Though I didn’t know it then, it was the lowest I would ever be – the night before the accident. The accident that nearly killed me. The accident I would give anything to have not had.
I was up all night, intoxicated on a drug I shall not name with several other people, including B, the girl I had driven there with. At one point, for several hours, we were sprawled about the living room in a midnight-blackened hour, and B put a song on the stereo. I was laying on the floor, going through cigarette after cigarette, and I could hear the song start, the melody on the guitar in the intro that carried through the rest of the song. I couldn’t really hear any words except for those stressed at certain points like “prison cell” or “Once believed…” I began to put a story in my head together about someone in a cage, someone trapped, and I started to believe it was me, that I (as the vocals stressed) “could have been something.”
For several hours we listened to that, on a humid August night in the bootheel of Missouri. I think somewhere inside me I thought, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.”
The next day, B and I drove home and had a car accident. B was okay; I was in a coma for two months. When I woke up, I didn’t know who or where I was, and I didn’t know what happened to me. As people explained, I remembered a bit, but when B and played the song again for me, I really got some memories back.
No matter how many years pass, no matter how far I get from that point, this song reminds me of another life I had, and I’m okay not living anymore.