Bend, little willow, wind’s gonna blow you hard and cold tonight…. No one’s out to break your heart, it only seems that way.
When I was 14, I was as impressionable as you’d expect.
I was in love with someone no one else my age cared about. I was in love with Paul McCartney.
He had an album out that year. I loved the Beatles and all, but I was excited to get his new stuff – ‘Flaming Pie.’
This album existed in a perfect moment. His wife of almost 30 years was in remission from her cancer, and he was a man who was an expert in his field. He knew how to make a rock song, and how to string them together into a record that kept you listening.
This is what I hear now, going back. At the time I was totally at his mercy, along for the ride. Every song held meaning I was eager to interpret.
Track five is a song called ‘Young Boy.’ He’s just a young boy, looking for a way to find love. As if that’s what they all do, as if it were a given.
And from Paul, I believed it. He had met Linda and taken to her and raised her daughter as his own, back when that kind of thing was tabloid fodder. And he promoted her art and involved her in his own career, despite the popular feeling apparently being that she had slept her way to the spotlight. (Ugh! As if she were just using him for the money she didn’t need…)
And as a kid, I needed to hear this. Sometimes I still do. Because I need to believe that boys really just want a time for meditation. A source of inspiration. Instead of confrontation. And love will come looking for you.
Because boys want it to. They are just like we are, maybe with different social pressures and experiences. But they are lonely, looking for someone to get them and accept them. They are people, too.
As a (reasonably) straight girl, I needed to believe this. As an adult, the alternative is unfathomable – Are we to accept that every great novel by Hemingway, every poem by Poe, every expression of tender emotion by Thoreau and Twain and Yeats…. to say nothing of Lennon and Neil Young and Prince and Cobain and and and…. I could go on almost forever…. That they were all just faking feeling to get in some girl’s pants??
Because I don’t.
I have had some truly nasty experiences at the hands of men. I have seen dicks I didn’t sign up for and been patronized and gaslighted and emotionally and verbally abused. And I don’t even want to tell you about the shit my own Dad has done (because that’s another post I should write one of these days.)
But I have always clung to my kindred spirits out there, the guys who had feelings and weren’t afraid to show them. Maybe they were considered kinda wussy by their peers, artsy guys often are, but I am grateful to Paul and all his brothers-at-arms for leaving evidence that the male of the species has the same longings and tender thoughts that I can’t help but have.
It’s taken me to some unfortunate corners, not all artsy guys are secretly beautiful, misunderstood souls. A lot of them are manipulative, navel-gazing fucks. Victims of the Patriarchy, perhaps, but does it matter when he is using you for his narcissistic supply? Does it matter when he is using your body like a goddam science experiment where he is Dr. Frankenstein and you’re his Creature?
Maybe not. But I still draw hope from Flaming Pie. This man was a billionaire, he made this album because he wanted to, not because he was trying to make a hit single.
Seriously, have you ever heard of it? I’d bet you haven’t.
Not long after that, Linda passed away. He was clearly caught unguarded and devastated. Looking at what they produced in the years they were together, it’s obvious they loved each other. Most rock stars would go on tour and leave their old lady at home with their four – Four! – kids, but not this guy.
And it’s stuck with me all these years, despite my contradictory experiences. Sure, some people suck. Of every sex and orientation and color. And some of us are tender and seek meaning in our relationships.
Last night I was exasperated and minorly devastated when my Nigel waited until bedtime to ask me what’s going on with me lately. I have mentioned several times that I’m having a hard time, what with losing my job due to bullshit from someone I had thought of as a friend, and my dad being completely insane and possibly getting my little sister back, and my mom in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant. Yeah, it’s been rough lately.
And I have been trying to hold all this in because he’s supporting us and going back to school for engineering, which is no joke. But I spilled it and upset myself, meanwhile he drifted off to sleep while I was talking. I was pissed and let him know as I left the room, tissues in hand.
Five minutes later I heard him snoring.
I am still working on the codependent thing, and I legit don’t know where the healthy line of expectation is. But I do expect to feel like he cares. Tired? Fine. Stressed? I sooooo get that. But I don’t need to “get it off my chest.” I need to feel heard. And last night, I didn’t.
After 30-plus years of being inconvenient, being told I was loved only to be dropped when it became a bother, over and over and over, that shit hurts. I was sick and despondent, sitting on the back steps because that was the only unoccupied space in the house, letting the crying jags come and go and feeling totally unloved.
Then today when it became apparent that I’m going to have to go home and care for her (assuming a suitable donor can be found) he took my hand and looked me hard in the eye and said, “Whatever you need, I’m here. I’ll take time off, my mom will watch the kids. I got you. This family is behind you,” I felt embarrassed to doubt him.
And tonight I’m having a drink and revisiting the man who showed me that even grown men who don’t need to have tender feelings, do. It’s sad that it fell to someone I’ll never meet to give me that, but I will always be grateful. My two young sons are grateful, even if they don’t know it.
He’s just a young boy, looking for a way to find love. And that’s a cause for celebration. Or at least pause.