I wanted to write something about some of the songs my exes put on mixtapes for me, or introduced me to, as a way of describing them, and us, and why these songs still sting my heart a little every time I hear them. I hope this is an interesting peek into my relationship past, my musical tastes, and how I became the person I am today!
1. "Everything For Free" by K's Choice
"They think I'm crazy/But they don't know that I like it here/It's nice in here/I get everything for free"
She was beautiful, and young, and she was so filled with pain that sometimes she cut herself to let it spill out, over her skin, over my floor. We shared histories in and out of institutions, both of us haunted by what we had seen in those sterile halls. We wound our bodies together, two broken spirits trying to mend ourselves and comfort each other. This song was sad, and sweet, and resonated so much with my own feelings of desperation. I just wanted something to be easy.
2. "She's Got Issues" by The Offspring
"I don't know why you're messed up/I don't know why your whole life is a chore/Just do me a favor/And check your baggage at the door"
I remember being taken aback when I received this lover's mixtape, which had this song intermingled with romantic songs. He said, then, that he was teasing me, as I struggled with self harm and depression... but it stung a lot more deeply than I could admit to him or to myself. In some ways he helped me move past my issues, but in other ways he created one of the most toxic of all- a codependent need to please, especially sexually, as an apology for my mental health. I still struggle with that, worrying that my mental health is a chore, that I'm too much, too crazy, that the only thing I have to offer is sex. Crazy girls make the best lays, right?
3. "Subbacultcha" by The Pixies
"We did the clubs what ass/I was hoping to have her in the sack/I was looking handsome/She was looking like an erotic vulture"
I followed this one to California, listening to his mixtape over and over til I wore it out. He was a poet who wore skirts and eyeliner and wrote me little sonnets that made me swoon. I learned how to be a manic pixie from him, in many ways. My first experiment with being a dominant woman was with him, and we had some amazing kinky chemistry. But he was a drifter and I needed to put down roots, gain some stability. I have always been attracted, I think, to men who "can't be nailed down", men who want to sew their wild seed and have adventures. I envy them, love their intensity, their questing spirits. I just hate when, time and time again, they're happy to settle down... just, I wasn't good enough to settle for.
4. "The Dark of the Matinee" by Franz Ferdinand
"Find me and follow me through corridors, refectories and files/You must follow, leave this academic factory/You will find me in the matinee"
I don't really know if I loved him or just loved how he made me feel. He was the first man to balance pure lust and romantic gestures in a way that made them both feel genuine and impulsive. He was successful, and stable, and cool, able to fit into the halls of academia and into some tight vinyl pants equally easily. I remember when he brought me chocolate dipped strawberries on the morning of Valentine's Day, before making me an incredible meal that evening. He was the first person who made me feel really cared about, seen, like a girlfriend, the first to really volunteer romantic gestures. It was the best Valentine's Day I've ever had, even still.
5. "Manhole" by Ani Difranco
"But a lesson must be lived/In order to be learned/And the clarity to see and stop this now/That is what I've earned"
They were a couple, who introduced me to Ani Difranco while driving to the Winchester Mystery Mansion one afternoon. I hadn't listened to Ani because I felt it was a cliche to be a queer girl who did, but this couple helped me fall in love with her turns of phrase. I loved them both, though I suspect he was more into me than she was, and they brought me on all sorts of erotic adventures. When they broke up, though, I tried to stay dating him... and felt that he was taking out the breakup on me, so I broke it off. I didn't know then that I would lose him as a friend as well as a lover. I miss him.