Song Of The Week: The Story Of Us by Taylor Swift

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It’s been a bit of a sad week for various reasons over here in Shandy Land, and we’re sorry that the Song of the Week feature has been delayed this week and never even made it out of the gate last week.

Over on the Shandy Music page, which was published this week, I’ve talked a little about how music is important to me and how I manage to deal with emotional situations by turning to songs, especially when trying to explain my feelings to other people. Without exception, I feel better once I find a song to latch on to where I can hang up my emotional hat.

This week’s Song Of The Week is The Story Of Us by Taylor Swift.

This was very nearly my ‘Song Of The Year’ a couple of years ago, but it was pipped to the post by something with a wider ranging relevance. Really, this should have been my song of the year a few times. Taylor Swift, I’m glad you’re here now, but where were you when I was going through my adolescent angst and it’s comeback in my mid-twenties? Tch, I dunno, late to the party but you’re here in my life now.

While I might seem like a rather with-it person, with a career and my head largely together and a lovely family, including the awesome Mr Shandy and our two beloved fuzz balls, there was a time when I had a habit of placing my emotional bets on all the wrong people. They weren’t wrong because they were bad – they were just wrong for me. I’ve alluded to this a few times and here I’m going to bite the bullet and talk about one of them.

I once had a best friend who I fell in love with.

It happens.

Hollywood knows it, soap land knows it, tv drama series thrive on it and half the chick lit in the world would never have been written without this phenomenon. The problem is that the way fiction deals with it is an absolute lie.

It tells you that once you fall in love with your best mate, you’re destined for a life of happiness. Sometimes you’re really not, because the best mate isn’t guaranteed to feel the same way. No matter how well you get on, how soundly you click, how much your tastes match, how much you have in common or how well you can read each other’s minds – love is a separate force and it comes from another place inside.

My best friend now is the person I love – my husband. During this period of my life, I am blessed. Several years ago, I wasn’t quite so lucky.

I honestly thought we had it all going for us under the surface and that given that right opportunity we’d be right for each other. Months of gentle pining followed this realisation because I didn’t really believe that the right time and place would ever happen. So I tried my best to be happy for him and look for a future somewhere else. Then there was what can only be described as a brief spurt of social cataclysm where I thought the earth might shift course and the stars might align enough for it all to go right for us.

It didn’t.

Because at the end of the day he didn’t feel the same way about me as I felt about him. And once you make a move in a direction like that, it’s very hard to drag yourself back from the brink and go back to what used to be.

The problem is, once you make a fuck up of that magnitude, you don’t just lose hope. You lose what was.

This week, my former-best-friend turned 30 and my heart was broken by seeing the perfect birthday card for him, and realising that even if I bought it, I would have nothing to say in it, nowhere to send it and no prospect of it doing any good for either him or me.

We have both changed massively as people since the days when we could finish each other’s sentences. I have no idea what he’s doing or what he’s thinking now, and sometimes when I stop to think about that, I still miss him. Not because I want him back in my life as he is now, but because I miss what was.

I miss the laughter, the shared jokes, the sense of having that one friend that you could tell anything to. I am lucky enough to have several lady friends in my life now who between them fill that criteria,  but I still miss knowing who my very first phone call would be in times of despair or elation.

Of course I have my husband. Of course I do. But half the joy of that sort of friendship is when I want to share ‘our’ news as well as mine.

That friend was the first person I called when I got engaged. Before my family, before my girl-friendz, because I wanted him to know how happy I was. I was devastated when the day came that I realised he wouldn’t be at my wedding, and I even had one last go at trying to build a bridge. It didn’t work. He told me via text he didn’t want to see me. I already knew that really, but confirmations hurt as much as revelations sometimes, and that was the end of all things.

I know it can’t come back. I know we’re not the same. I know that we have nothing left in common any more and if we did meet, well quite frankly we’d end up having a row because too much has happened and we don’t actually like each other that much any more. The end of our friendship was stormy and unpleasant because we had changed too much to find any more common ground.

But I miss who he was. And who he was to me. I miss the shared jokes that don’t make sense to anyone else. I miss the nicknames. He used to call me ‘Tink’ and I still have a necklace, a silver imprint of Tinkerbell with ‘Tink’ engraved on the back, which I can’t bring myself to wear. I hear songs that he introduced me to and I have to turn them off even though I once loved them. Because when I listen to them, I’m back there, and when they end, I realise that ‘back there’ doesn’t exist any more.

I spoke with one of my lovely girlz yesterday about how I feel like I’m the ‘custodian’ of all those shared things. All the roleplay games, the characters, the memories, the laughs, the music, the stories, the comics, the songs, the art work, the coffee, the food – the things that we shared which made us ‘Us’, part of something greater, better. Part of a circle of friends that couldn’t be broken, but which now lies in pieces on the floor of my past. I don’t even know if he remembers it. I doubt he thinks of it. If he does, there is very little chance that he places anywhere near as much importance on it as me.

He didn’t make me who I am today, but he made me who I was, and that was a very important step along the way to becoming the person I am today. That stepping stone might have sunk beneath the water now, but I know it was there. Because I wouldn’t be here without it.

This song sums up that sort of close relationship, that interweaving that you can’t imaging breaking down, and then the process that destroys it. Doubt, miscommunication, silence, distance and the dread of separation. I wish I’d had this song when I was losing my friend, because then I might have had a frame of reference for what I was going through to try and explain it to other people around me, and they might have understood a bit more.

I loved him.

Although he was never my lover.

I loved him beyond the scope of his physical presence. I loved his wit. I loved his artwork, his interests, his writing. I loved his characters. I loved his smile. I loved the turn of his phrase and the way he would have me and everyone else in earshot in stitches recounting stories. I miss the way he listened and the kindness that he showed to me and my other close friends in dark times. I miss the knack he had of gathering wonderful people around him – I still treasure his ex-girlfriend as a good friend, a star which came out of all that darkness. I would never have met her if he had not been an extraordinary man. I loved his sense of adventure and willingness to try new things. I loved the passion he had for the things that caught his interest and the depth with which he would dive into them. I loved his intelligence, his well read mind, his intellect and conversations.

I loved all of those things and when reminders of them stray across my path I am reminded of how much I miss about him still. And how futile it is to want or try to have any of it back.

The only way to go is forward. But there are days when that still sucks, no matter how routine or accepted or good sense it is. And this is one of those days.

Taylor Swift gets that.

She found that feeling, plucked it out, pinned it down and turned it into a song.

And so, belatedly, she is the star of ‘Song Of The Week’ for this week.

“This is looking like a contest
Of who can act like they care less
But I liked it better when you were on my side
The battle’s in your hands now,
Though I would lay my armour down
If you’d say you’d rather love than fight.

There’s so many things that I wish you knew
But the story of us might be ending soon.

Now I’m standing alone in a crowded room
And we’re not speaking
And I’m dying to know if it’s killing you
Like it’s killing me, yeah.
I don’t know what to say about the twist of fate
Where it all broke down.
But the story of us looks a lot like a tragedy now.”

Happy Birthday Luke.

I don’t know where you are, or how you’re doing these days and I couldn’t even find the words to put in a Birthday Card. But Happy Birthday, because I still wish you one from the bottom of my heart.

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