Inside Column: True love has a beat

Natalie Schack
Schack Attack

by Natalie Schack, News Staff

In past columns, I’ve found fuel in the tragedies of the world. These are the creases in aging skin, caked with dirt you can’t get out, stained with the blood from some long-ago skinned knee. A fossil, found on a walk to forever. These I turn into fodder for my existential gluttony, taking each incident – alien and familiar, autonomous and involved, smoother than bone and rougher than shark skin, and turning them over. Pale olive hands with long fingers exploring the crevices, mounds, openings, imperfections, perfections, edges and insides, brilliance and eloquence, of each.
Today, however, I come to talk of love; or “true” love as the sea witch Ursula would say. The type of love that swirls through you like trade winds, as simultaneously unnoticed and necessary as Margaret’s breath of air. The type of love with fantastic stories of star-crossed dissolution and, later, the fiery rebirth of a phoenix! The type that comes in fairy tales, with hearts torn asunder, hearts put back together, destiny, serendipity, change, meaning, God, life!
Last year, in a fresh-out-of-coop-at-home mindset, I had one of the moments. A burning desire to surround myself with beautiful things from elsewhere, a college-age desire to be pushed forward by the things you’ve loved or done or seen or felt, the desire to be one of the proverbial yellow roman candles doing their whole exploding thing – like spiders across the stars, was it? So I scrapped what I could together and schlepped myself across the country – mid-quarter – to visit my friends in Utah and feel all the hullabaloo, creativity, newness, light, camera, and action of the Sundance Film Festival.
And as I sat there in that theatre, at some late-night hour, in the mountains of Park City, Utah, with the smell of snow pressing in from all sides of the building (nature, taking back its birthright, its space), I was, to be frank, knee-deep in It. “It” being visiting people from high school that I can talk to for hours about things we disagree passionately and tragically, about, but whom I love for being unlike anyone else. It being the feeling of scraping the sky with my head, atop this iced cupcake peak of the North American continent. This being the experience you get every time you watch a film, hear the story that someone so desperately needed to tell, see the delicate and chaotic choreography of movement and stillness, time and space, light and shape.
The movie we saw is by no measurement my favorite movie of all time. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now, I remember some parts of it and forget others, but I also remember that after that it was a night drive through the passes and drifts and whiteness and blackness to Salt Lake City, and sleep. And it was the end of the trip.
I dwell on things, I always have. I take this thing or that moment, note, smile, or phrase, and cradle them against me like some sick God-author doctoring the novel of life with his own imposed literary devices; seeing synecdoche, metaphors, foils, motifs, in the arbitrariness of existence. So of course, I took everything that this was, and reduced it to a song.
The movie playing was “The Vicious Kind.” And in the scene where Brittany Snow’s character, in a explosion of everything she’s been keeping and holding, comes out to the porch in the middle of the night, to a truck that just pulled up, at a house so unfamiliar to her, the soundtrack erupts with a visceral assist of climax and build. Boom, boom, boom. It echoed in my head. Boom, boom, boom.
And when I couldn’t find the soundtrack anywhere, when the film didn’t get picked up for months, when Netflix refused to carry it, as the year drew on … I latched onto getting this song, reliving that moment with the desperation of someone who has always confused reality with fiction. Months, months, months went on. I forgot how the song went, but I stored away the need to hear it again safely, in a waterproof, time-proof, memory-proof box deep in my hippocampus. Or wherever it is that stuff like that goes.
Last week, Netflix put “The Vicious Kind” online.
Over a year later, I grasped it thirstily, and fast-forwarded to the porch scene, with the pickup truck, the night, the girl, the desperation, absolutely sure the charm of the song had faded like old watercolors; failed to live up to the vibrancy of my imagination.
I was wrong. The song, “Welcome Home” by Radical Face, been on repeat since then.
True love. It comes back again and again. It transcends, it glitters and gleams, it loses to win again. You can, as Margaret said, rub it all over your body, or cook with it too. Or you can listen to it in a song, see it in a movie, build your days around a thousand meaningless true loves that make life so, so worth living.

– Natalie Schack can be reached at inside@huntington–

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