Monday, November 5, 2007

Yo La Tengo and the Force of Feeling

I attended three Yo La Tengo concerts this weekend and my husband condescended to join me for two of them. I haven’t read his review of the shows on his blog because it may harsh my mellow. I’d never seen a rock show at the Ivar Theatre but it is small and genial and by the second night they got around to selling some beers. This was called the Free Wheelin’ tour and it was largely acoustic and showcased the large and eclectic body of songs they’ve written and covered. All three shows were unique and only about three songs were performed more than once. Ira Kaplan urged the audience to ask questions, most of which unfortunately were quite inane. The audience participation, such as it was, sparked the band to chat a little and find inspiration for the next musical number. It was sort of like having a jam session in your living room although if it were in my living room, the guests would have asked smarter questions than the paying crowd at the Ivar. I will confess to having been staggeringly and droolingly blissed out through the whole experience. I see now how people can actually surrender to that force of feeling and speak in tongues and stuff.

During the summer, my husband, after decades of genealogical research and longing to connect with his blood roots, was dealt one of the cruelest blows I can imagine. After years of searching he was able to establish contact, through another relative, with his birth mother. Her response was angry fury and she sent him a letter so excoriating and full of rage that neither of us has been able to read the whole thing. A single fuck with a married man, nearly half a century ago is still so excruciatingly shameful that when my husband lay at her feet the beauty of the life she’d made, she could not be comforted. I like to think that my beloved took comfort in my arms and embracing the grandchildren of the woman who seemed to have dedicated her life to ruing his very conception. But I am not him and suspect that the pain of her hatefulness may have been even greater than the comfort of my tender love and what we’ve made together could truly soothe.

On Saturday Himself received a letter from the Bay area. It began, “I hope you can forgive me.” It was from Anna, his birth mother and it expressed remorse for her reaction four months ago to his initial attempt to contact her. She is married to a retired journalist and they live in San Francisco. She is sorry. She wants to meet John. We will go to her, confident that her burning shame will dissipate and she will look into his eyes and surrender to the force of feeling.

1 comment:

Fionnchú said...

I hope so too! I have never let my connection by name get even on my blog, but now I too feel the "force of feeling" and look for a "rebirth of wonder," to borrow one of your by now (after nearly two decades of camaraderie and raillery) familiar and shopworn metaphors (shopworn is another one too!). Thanks for your role in initiating this whole adventure, while I was off in the wilds of Donegal, so far away that the nearest ATM was 28 km and we had only dial-up. Our children gasp at my roughing it on the frontier.