Someone I Could Become by Adam StrongThere were​ ​stairs​ ​outside​ ​my​ ​old​ ​apartment, the upper ​part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​house​ ​where​, ​downstairs​, ​two ravers​ ​lived.​ ​These​ ​two​ ​would​ ​play​ ​music,​ ​house,​ ​drum​ ​and​ ​bass. Sub-genre​ ​doesn’t matter when it’s ​playing​ ​at​ ​3​ ​or​ ​4​ ​in​ ​the​ ​morning.​ ​I​ ​kept​ ​a​ ​broom​ ​next​ ​to​ ​my​ ​bed.​ ​I’d get​ ​up​ ​and​ ​pound​ ​on​ ​the​ ​floor​ ​with​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​did​ ​it​ ​at​ ​4,​ ​5,​ ​even​ ​6​ ​in​ ​the​ ​morning.​ ​All​ ​night​ ​drugs ​— ecstasy, whatever.​ ​And​ ​when​ ​they​ ​did​ ​hear​ ​me,​ ​they​ ​would​ ​turn​ ​it​ ​down. They​ ​were​ ​nice. The dude​ ​down​ ​there,​ ​he’d​ ​answer​ ​back​ ​to​ ​my​ ​pounding.​ ​“Sorry​ ​bro.”​ ​He’d​ ​say​ ​up​ ​through​ ​the floorboards.

I​ ​was​ ​living​ ​alone then,​ 26​ ​or​ ​27,​ ​young​ ​and​ “​going​ ​places.”​ ​I’d​ ​just​ ​gotten​ ​a​ ​tiny​ ​raise​ ​in​ ​the form​ ​of​ ​a​ ​promotion​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Education​ ​Television​ ​Station​ where ​I​ ​worked​.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​on​ ​my​ ​way​ ​to​ ​becoming a​ ​director. But​ ​even​ ​though​ ​I​ ​was​ ​on​ ​the​ ​rise at work,​ ​​​I​ ​was​ ​alone,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​was​ ​getting​ ​tired​ ​of​ ​it, of being​ ​alone.

​Of course, I wasn’t really alone. I had friends, and I​’d often have​ them ​over ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​few​ ​beers​ ​and​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​the hundreds​ ​of​ ​CDs I owned.​ ​We’d​ ​smoke outside​ ​on​ ​the​ ​steps.​ ​I​ ​could​ ​do​ ​that​ ​for​ ​hours — ​talk​ ​to​ ​friends​ ​over​ ​a​ ​beer​ ​or​ ​three,​ ​the​ ​windows open,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​day,​ ​the​ ​night​ ​air​ ​coming​ ​on​ ​to​ ​cool​ ​down​ ​Columbia,​ ​South​ ​Carolina.

Sometimes​ girls came back to my place,​ ​but​ ​they’d​ ​never​ ​spend​ ​the​ ​night.​ ​We’d​ ​exchange​ ​phone​ ​numbers​, probably fake, ​and​ ​never​ ​see​ ​each other​ ​again. Maybe there’d be a​ ​kiss,​ ​a​ ​kiss​ ​from​ ​nowhere.​ ​Some​ ​girl​ ​I’d​ ​be​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​who​ ​I thought​ ​I​ ​had​ ​no​ ​chance​ ​with.​ ​The​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​night​ ​at​ ​the​ ​bar,​ ​some​ ​night,​ ​some​ ​weekday​ ​night.​ ​A​ ​promise​ ​of​ ​new love.​ But not.

On​ ​nights​ ​like​ ​that​ ​I​ ​only​ ​had​ ​one​ ​song​ ​that​ ​described​ ​how​ ​being​ ​single ​felt,​ ​and how​ ​there​ ​was always​ ​the​ ​possibility​ ​of​ ​meeting​ ​that​ ​someone,​ ​sometimes​ ​getting​ ​so​ ​close, but then not quite hitting it off.​

“Color​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Kids,” ​by​ ​Cat​ ​Power (Chan Marshall).​ ​Just​ ​piano​ ​and​ ​her​ ​voice.​ ​I​ ​loved​ ​how​ ​her​ ​heart​ ​broke​ ​on​ ​that​ ​song,​ ​I​ ​loved​ ​how​ ​half​ ​of​ ​the lyrics​ ​didn’t​ ​make​ ​any​ ​sense,​ how ​they​ ​were​ ​just placeholders,​ ​things​ ​she​ ​experienced​ ​but​ ​couldn’t​ ​flesh​ ​out in​ ​the​ ​rewrite. Or​ ​so​ ​I​ ​imagined.

The song is on Cat​ ​Power’s​ ​third​ ​album,​ ​Moon​ ​Pix.​ ​The​ CD ​cover​, ​a​ ​portrait​ ​of​ ​her,​ would sit ​on​ my​ ​stereo.​ To me, that photo of her seemed to ​show​ ​who​ ​she​ ​was, her strange stripped​ ​down​ ​sophistication.​

“​Color​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Kids” ​was​ ​this: dreaming​ ​of​ ​a​ ​day​ ​I​ ​could​ ​almost​ ​see​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​me. A wife. A kid. Independence.

I​ ​was​ ​beginning​ ​to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​leaving​ ​town.​ ​Wanting​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to​ ​a​ ​big​ger town​ with​ ​bigger​ ​jobs.​ What​ ​if​ ​the​ ​jump​ ​to​ ​director​ ​didn’t​ ​pan​ ​out​ ​for​ ​me?​ ​All​ ​those​ ​years​ ​of​ ​new​ ​year’s​ ​eve nights​ ​with​ ​no​ ​one​ ​at​ ​my​ ​side​ ​thinking​ ​to​ ​myself,​ ​next​ ​year​ ​I’d​ ​be​ ​with​ ​someone.​ ​Next​ ​year​ ​I’d​ ​finally have​ ​enough​ ​of​ ​this​ ​town.​ ​This​ ​place​ ​I​’d been ​hanging on to.​ ​The​ ​people​ ​there were​ ​too​ ​much​ ​of​ ​a​ ​family to me. We had the after​-work​ ​canoeing​ ​and​ ​beer-ing together,​ ​Sunday​ ​nights​ ​with​ ​The​ ​Simpsons​ and X-Files​,​ ​​​live​ ​music​ ​three​ ​nights​ ​a​ ​week.​ That was all great, but now they were settling​ ​down​ ​and​ ​getting​ ​married. And I wasn’t.

I saw the show announced ​on​ ​the Matador​ ​Records​ ​website.​ ​Red​ ​and​ ​black​ ​and​ ​white.​ ​The only​ ​image​ ​was​ ​​ ​the​ ​Cat​ ​Power​ ​Moon​ ​Pix​ ​photo.​ ​Tour​ ​dates. When​ ​I​ ​scrolled​ ​down, looking​ ​for​ ​the​ ​two​ ​letters,​ ​the​ ​S​ ​and​ ​the​ ​C​ ​—and​ ​there​ ​it​ ​was. ​No​ ​one​ big ever ​came​ ​to​ ​Columbia,​ ​SC.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​went​ ​out​ ​to​ ​see​ ​live​ ​music​ ​it​ would usually be a​ ​friend’s band,​ ​not​ ​someone​ ​like​ ​her.

But​ ​there it was: Cat​ ​Power​ ​at​ ​New​ ​Brookland​ ​Tavern.

Cat Power, Moon Pi

To​ ​see​ ​her​ ​on​ ​stage,​ ​singing​ “​Color​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Kids,”​ ​to​ ​see​ ​her​ ​live,​ ​the​ woman ​I’d​ ​been​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with ever​ ​since​ ​Moon​ ​Pix​ ​came​ ​out.

That​ ​night​ ​I​ ​was​ ​there​ ​with​ ​my​ ​friends,​ ​my​ ​too​-​close​-​to​-​family​-​to​-​leave​-​town​ ​family.​ The show​ ​was​ ​great.​ ​Cat​ ​Power,​ ​Chan​ ​Marshall,​ I knew she was ​an​ ​unpredictable​ ​performer. I’d heard rumors that some ​nights​ ​she’d​ ​seem lost, ​cooing​ ​into​ ​the​ ​microphone,​ ​rolling​ ​on​ ​the​ ​floor,​ ​locked​ ​into​ ​the same​ ​word.

But​ ​not​ that night.​ That night ​she​ ​was​ ​level​ ​headed,​ ​and it​ ​was​ ​one​ ​hell​ ​of​ ​a​ ​performance.​ ​And​ ​even though​ ​she​ ​didn’t​ ​play​ ​”Color​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Kids,”​ ​I​ ​was​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​glad​ ​about​ ​it,​ to hear a song that was the perfect alone song for me around a few hundred other people would’ve been too much.

​​After​ ​the​ ​show,​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​her​ ​sitting​ ​down​ ​in​ ​the​ ​back,​ ​smoking​ ​a​ ​cigarette. The way she sat, the way she smoked, it seemed like she’d be open to me sitting down and having a smoke. I wasn’t sure of it, but somehow I was sure enough to walk over and talk to her.

We​ ​drank​ ​beer,​ ​we​ ​talked​ ​about​ ​life.​ ​And​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​moment,​ ​about​ ​an​ ​hour​ ​into​ ​our conversation,​ ​when​ ​people​ ​on​ ​the​ ​patio​ ​had​ ​come​ ​out​ ​and​ ​filled​ ​the​ ​place​ ​and​ ​her​ ​cheek​ ​was​ ​close to​ ​mine,​ ​she​ ​was​ ​talking​ ​right​ ​into​ ​my​ ​ear.​ ​Cat​ ​Power​ and​ ​I​ ​talking​ ​and​ ​nobody​ ​else. Our​ ​bodies​ ​touching​ ​just​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​got​ ​that​ ​feeling,​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​her.​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​probably nothing​ ​else​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​happen,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​it,​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​possibility​ ​that​ ​something​ ​could​ ​happen with​ ​someone​ ​special.​ ​That​ ​whatever​ ​was​ ​in​ ​me​ ​could​ ​grow ​into​ ​something​ ​bigger,​ ​someone​ ​more, in​ ​a​ ​place​ ​with​ ​less​ ​limits.​ ​

That​ ​night​ ​when​ ​I​ ​came​ ​home.​ ​With​ ​the​ ​CD​ ​signed​ ​by​ ​her.​ ​“Dear​ ​Adam,”​ ​it​ ​said,​ ​“Carry​ ​on with​ ​that​ ​soup​ ​herb​ ​hospital.”

And you could say my name
Like you knew my name

My​ ​friends​ ​thought​ ​we​ ​were​ ​gonna​ ​fall​ ​in​ ​love​ ​just​ ​like​ ​that.​ ​I​ ​mean​ ​I​ ​was​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​her​ ​and only​ ​her​ ​for​ ​two​ ​hours.​ ​We​ ​were​ ​so​ ​easy​ ​with​ ​each​ ​other,​ ​it​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​we​ ​could​ ​always​ ​stay​ ​that​ ​way, the​ ​two​ ​of​ ​us​ ​almost​ ​touching​ ​but​ ​not​ ​touching,​ ​talking​ ​into​ ​each​ ​other’s​ ​ear.​ ​Our​ ​voices​ ​filling​ ​up our​ ​heads.

When​ ​I​ ​got​ ​home​ ​that​ ​night​ ​I​ ​put​ ​on​ ​”Color​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Kids​​,” ​and​ ​this​ ​time​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​see​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a depressing​ ​thing,​ ​to​ ​be​ ​single,​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​that​ ​night​ ​as​ ​the​ ​promise​ ​that​ ​it​ ​actually​ ​was.​ ​Through​ ​the​ ​song​ ​I saw​ ​a​ ​future​ ​where​ ​I​ ​was​ ​loved,​ ​where​ ​I​ ​was​ ​married, even. Where​ ​I​ ​had​ ​kids.​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​the​ ​life​ ​I​ ​have​ ​now.

Yellow​ ​Hair,​ ​you​ ​are​ ​such​ ​a​ ​funny​ ​bear,”​ — ​such​ ​a​ ​simple​ ​line, that come​ ​here​ ​you,​ ​let​ ​me​ ​rub​ ​your​ ​hair​ ​and​ ​look​ ​at​ ​all​ ​of​ ​your​ ​imperfect​. ​I​ ​accept​ ​you. You​ ​are​ ​the​ ​person​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​the​ ​rest of​ ​my​ ​life​ ​with.

That​ ​night​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cat​ Power​ ​show.​ ​Sitting​ ​out​ ​on​ ​that​ ​stair​well​ ​with ​yet​ ​another rave​ ​party​ ​happening​ ​in​ ​that​ ​downstairs​ ​apartment. I​ ​had​ to ​turn​ ​up​ ​the​ ​stereo​ ​to drown it out. The​ ​part​ ​of the​ ​song​ ​where​ she ​starts​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​it,​ ​her​ ​voice​ ​unable to ​contain​ ​all​ ​the​ ​emotion. ​​I​ ​felt​ ​it​ ​in​ ​her​ ​that​ ​night,​ her​ ​voice​ ​in​ ​my​ ​ear​ ​telling​ ​me​ ​how​ ​the​ ​place​ ​where she​ ​recorded​ ​that​ ​album was​ ​haunted.​ ​And​ ​how she’d​ ​be​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​of​ ​the​ ​night​ ​and​ ​see​ ​an​ ​old​ ​woman​ ​in​ ​a​ ​rocking​ ​chair when​ ​she​ ​woke​ ​up,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​finger​ ​to​ ​her​ ​mouth,​ ​telling​ ​her​ ​to​ ​hush.

I could stay here
Become someone different
I could stay here
Become someone better

I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​bed​ ​that​ ​night​ ​knowing​ ​​I​ ​would​ ​leave​ ​South Carolina in the new​ ​year. ​I’d ​leave​ ​my​ ​too​ ​hard​ ​to leave​ ​family.​ ​​​I’d​ ​drive west​ ​​to​ ​Portland,​ ​OR. I’d start over, no matter how hard it would be. I’d find a life, a partner, a career. I’d get married, have kids. I’d seek out a time where, when I put on “Color and the Kids,” I’d remember that person I was before, but I’d be the man I am now.

Cat Power, live at Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Sept. 4th, 2006
Photo by basic_sounds used under CC.