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I wrote this about one of my favorite songs, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National. I’m from Ohio. I think that’s all the context we need? Here we go!
What calms me down are not exactly my favorite songs, but the songs that remind me of something that is so exquisitely not this. What I mean by that is I listen to songs that are tied to the outside. Walking around arm in arm with my loves, lying for hours in parks, getting drunk with buddies - clinging to each other all the while, you know, the things I can’t do now. One of those songs for me is The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio.”
I don’t pretend to be poetic enough to understand “carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees” but to me it evokes the feeling of being dropped. Landing randomly in wherever the forward motion brought you. I have always felt like my existence was simply the result of forward motion. I’m sure that sensation occurs for everyone at some point but it feels particular poignant to me, an immigrant’s child. My parent’s life together feels like a swarm of bees. Buzzing, a little too fast, rising at a pace that was almost dangerous, but was potent. They dropped down and so did I.
“I never thought about love when I thought about home” What I remember of home are the man-made lakes of my neighborhood. I am a man-made lake in their neighborhood. That dark blue color of something that was never supposed to be there is what springs to mind when the word ‘Ohio’ pops into my brain. Deep blue, with specks of the cloud’s reflection. Tiny bursts of bright light. I know Ohio in bursts. I remember screaming so much I had headaches for weeks. I remember lying in bed for days. I remember wanting to be loved so badly it almost broke me. But knowing it? Knowing love? I laid on my lawn, staring at those clouds, dreaming and dreaming and dreaming of it.
“I never married but Ohio don’t remember me.” I don’t understand the fixation I have with my home state. It decidedly did not love me back. Except…except in those very rare quiet moments. Moments associated with no person but with the nature of the state itself. The smell of my front lawn, cut grass and crisp magnolias. The pain of leaving The Basement at fifteen, bruises fresh on my body, worn as a tattoo, a way to remember this is how deeply I felt that night. You have the capacity to do that. Don’t forget that next time you have the urge. The smell of campus district, miller light cigarettes and beautiful clarity.
Sitting next to my goof warmed hearted father, feeling him love teaching me something. Watching touchdowns and feeling my heart spike as our twin cherubic faces rose at the same time. My gaggle of girlfriends watching music videos and dancing in rooms adorned with ripped magazine pages. I’ve known so many people for almost three decades. Ohio taught me that. I guess that’s why I let the state sit on me like a badge.
“Bloodbuzz.” I miss home so much. I want to deeply inhale dark green. I want the breeze to paint the freckles on my cheeks and to feel the deep pellets of a Midwest thunderstorm on my back. I want golden fur brush against my calves and the weight of a happy puppy on my chest. Bursts of bright light.
“The floors are falling out from everybody I know.” Are you ever reminded of something you’ve never lived? I am. It’s a dream I must repeatedly have because the details cling to me. I’m in a room with burgundy walls and perfectly dimmed golden light. So warm it’s almost fire itself. I am at a dinner party. I am with the friends I cherish most. We are listening to Bloodbuzz Ohio. Or at least I am. It’s my guess that everyone is listening to their favorite song in their head, narrating this perfect moment with their own personal score. Suddenly we all hold each other’s hands. It’s not desperate, but everyone’s grabs feel urgent. We all look at each other in the eyes, smiling the whole while. We lean our heads forward, smiles fading, until our heads all touch each other’s. We collapse inward, together. We dive down, headfirst, into something. It looks like the night sky, but it’s not quite? I’m never totally sure, because when I wake up I only seem to hold onto the warm light.
Most of all I want Ohio to love me back.