“It takes an ocean not to break.”

Note:  the following blog is a response to a challenge by my friend Denise to write a blog explaining my interpretation of the lyric “It takes an ocean not to break” from the song “Terrible Love” by the band The National.  So I have written the blog.  She said she was going to as well but I haven’t read hers yet, so as to not taint my own.  Just let me say, this entry may make it sound like I’m depressed, but I promise I’m not.  I am happy as a clam in pigshit!  (I swear)  I have pasted a YouTube clip of the song before the text in case you might want to listen to it while reading it.  I’d suggest you do.  I may be biased, but when I listen to this song while reading this entry, I cry like a damned fool.

I’ve gotten so fat, he thought.  I can’t keep pretending it’s just cause I quit smoking.  It’s been nine months.  He stood in front of a framed movie poster, nude, rubbing his jutting belly affectionately.  The truth was, he liked it.  It was simply more of him that had never been there before.  Extra him.

He moved through the apartment, listless, fidgety, afraid to be bored.  He kept stopping in front of various framed posters, admiring his jawline, his sexy stare.  I quite like my hairline, he thought, for the dozenth time that day.

Suddenly he sat Indian-style on the carpet and began frantically paging through the photo album until he came upon a picture of her.  Ah…her.  Yes, always back to her.  It no longer hurt like it used to, but it still hurt.  But this hurt was more like a dull memory of an acute pain, and it was somehow mildly pleasing.  Like peeling up just the edge of a large scab; as long as you don’t peel it all the way back, you’re fine.

He’d always made a habit out of looking at her pictures, but nowadays it was much less frequent.  She’s still breathtaking, he thought.  Then aloud to himself:  “At least now she’s quiet company.”  He chuckled.  There was a time not so many years ago when he had hated her.

She had broken him, for a time.  Really broken him.  But then again, he thought, I’ve been broken in so many ways, so many times.  Who could pinpoint the source of a fracture?  Or the exact time we mended?  I’ve been broken by women, money, gin, friends.  He chuckled.  Seems the only thing that’s there every time is me.  How’s the saying go?  “Point the finger right at me” or something like that.

He put a shirt on and walked toward the kitchen, pondering what it meant to be broken, what it meant to be fixed.  Seemed maybe the whole of life was a series of being almost broken and finding a way toward fixed; of bending but not breaking.  Suddenly he pictured himself as a bendy straw—built to be almost-broken.

He opened his fridge to get some Diet Dr. Pepper.  As the interior light flicked on it illuminated the collage frame he had hung on his kitchen wall.  Four differently sized frames connected together in a neat shape, so one could display four different pictures of loved ones or dogs or cars or whatever you wanted on your wall.  He’d bought it at Wal-Mart for 2 bucks.

There was the picture of his dad, probably taken a decade earlier.  The man was wearing sweat pants and a sweat shirt and was making the world’s groggiest face.  It made him smile, this picture of his dad, looking at him from five hours and ten years away.  This dad who would always love him, no matter what.

And beside it, his mother—that loving, knowing, forgiving grin spread across her face in the parking lot of some Kohl’s department store in New Jersey somewhere.  Who’d have ever guessed she’d be there, too, staring into his fridge?  And below her, his sister, and beside her his friend Paul, shooting a pool cue and smiling into the camera, as if to say, I’m always going to be here, buddy.

And he turned around and suddenly imagined photographs of all his friends and family spread out across all his kitchen walls.  Every inch covered by pictures of people who would and had always stood by him.  Even the light switches were covered.  Despite his fears of seeming cheesy or—God forbid—sentimental, tears welled up in his eyes as he realized how much love swirled around his life.  He did not wipe the tears away, and through the moisture of his eyes it appeared everyone he knew was bobbing around on some four-cornered sea in his kitchen, smiling at him, blowing him kisses, clinging to desperate life rafts.  He breathed in deep, said “It takes an ocean not to break.”

15 Responses to ““It takes an ocean not to break.””

  1. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    Fuckin’ A, my reading speed was perfectly timed with the cues of the song and your blog. That was quite an experience I don’t think I can replicate!

    I know it’s more than just a Pink Floyd coincidental syncing though that really grabbed me. The four pictures into the back story of the pictures and then expanding into infinite more pictures everywhere…it was just breathtaking. It’s going to be hard not to view pictures like this for the next few…well probably years! Great job.

    Also, I was no aware that this is the blog day challenge! No way in hell I’m gonna attempt it now after reading yours though!

    • sethdellinger Says:

      I thought about telling you specifically about the challenge, but Denise and I talked about it in a thread in FB you had commented in so I thought you’d see it. No worries though, I can’t wait to get over to your blog and see what rum and internet has for me from tonight! Sorry I haven’t gotten there yet, I wanted to get this out of my head, it was ruminating all night at work!

      And thanks for your kind words! It really is coincidence how well the song matches up with the text. It works well for me too!

  2. This is just amazing. Perfectly worked up to the swimming eyes. Wow, such emotion.

    I would love to read Denise’s rendition.

  3. Well done, Sir. While the blog I wrote yesterday was not specifically about our theme, in retrospect, I suppose it could qualify. I love your visuals here. I had a hard time with the quote and I know I shouldn’t have read this until I finished my own, but I had to, of course. After reading this, I took a shower and I think I finally got it. I’ll write more tonight, I think.

    I’m so glad you introduced me to this song. I looked up the lyrics. Now the song plays through my mind and I like it.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Hey, just write what you want! if you’re not feeling this particular theme just write something else. The odea was to just get you blogging again anyway! I’m glad you like this song, I am obsessed with it!

      • And I did. I get this now. It hit me in the shower.

        I think I can put a dive spin on it. :) Imagine that.

        I do like what I wrote. Thanks for the nudge.

        You interested in a weekly blog-off?

      • You know what? Thank you a whole bunch for caring enough to get me to write again. That means alot. You and Kyle are simply the best.

      • sethdellinger Says:

        haha oh I don’t know aboput a weekly blog off….maybe monthly? I don’t know if I could fit in a weekly one!

        Always happy to help :) And look at the amazing result that you ended up writing! Amazing!

  4. You nailed that lyric. Great post!

  5. cory w. Says:

    This didn’t make you seem depressed at all, in my opinion. Sure, the sadness is there, but it feels more bitter sweet to me than anything else. The description of the photographs made me feel very happy and comforted in fact. This seems very hopefull to me.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Thanks kiwi, I was hoping it came across that way! I didn’t really think it seemed sad either but some people seem to be worried about me up here all alone and so now I am worried about them worrying about me! :) And that is soooo much better than not having anyone to worry about you!

  6. That. was. fantastic.

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