Lorde Melodrama

[Republic/Lava; 2017]

Styles: wild and fluorescent
Others: Maggie Nelson, Cat Power, Anne Carson, David Bowie

I heard Melodrama the way Lorde created it. On the subway, in shitty earbuds, by myself. This was unintentional. I swear. No one knew I was in the city. I love keeping a secret. And listening alone while moving among everyone was cosmic. Like having the biggest crush. Like showing up late to the party wearing glitter and black. Like sobbing without grace. I was already singing along and nearly could not resist spinning around and around in the middle of the sidewalk once I got off the Q. I could feel my heart vibrating everywhere inside my body. Like I was shattering. Becoming wild and fluorescent.

How is it possible to walk at a normal speed while coming undone? How is it possible to even breathe while falling in love? How is it possible to just fucking play it cool?

I drove home with a fresh tattoo of a woman wearing nothing but a half slip with a heart, looking at her face in a handheld mirror. I spoke to hardly anyone but the artist. This is not unusual.

As a Virgo with Capricorn rising, I bury my most intense feelings way down at the center of the earth, which makes me volcanic. For a long time, I have wanted guidance from a Scorpio. Lorde happens to be a Scorpio.

When I read Lorde describe Melodrama as “a record about being alone, the good parts and the bad parts,” I thought: I have never wanted anything more in my entire life. What I mean is I feel like I can float while dancing alone at a show. What I mean is I locked myself in the bathroom at the birthday party, threw myself against the wall, glanced in the mirror, closed my eyes, and slid to the floor while wondering if everyone hates me, aching to pull my hair out and yell, Why am I like this? What I mean is I have stayed awake until four in the morning writing an email that says too much, basically, a version of “Writer In The Dark,” “I care for myself the way I used to care about you,” but also, mostly, “I love you til you call the cops on me.”

I just want to be tender.

Lorde said that while writing “Sober II (Melodrama),” the colors of the record became present. Violets and blues. Like the original comet emoji. Like a swimming pool. Like phone screen light dissolved upon cheeks. Devotional and magical. The aura. I have a blue halo in my picture. The woman at Magic Jewelry calls me sensitive. Absorbing the world like a sponge.

As I listen, I return to Bluets, obviously. Maggie Nelson writes, “We don’t get to choose what or whom we love, I want to say. We just don’t get to choose.” She writes, “I have been trying, for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do.” She writes, “What I know: when I met you, a blue rush began. I no longer hold you responsible.”

In “The Louvre,” Lorde calls romance a thing. “Our thing progresses.” Nothing more, because definition means commitment which means vulnerability. Which is frightening. And what matters is what is sweet. The marathon date. The road trip. The party.

The thing becomes the universe.

Can’t this energy last forever? Just fun desire. Hot pink light with the radio playing loud as hell. Isn’t it kind of wonderful? Isn’t it thrilling? I delete an exclamation point at the end of an inconsequential sentence. Might be too much. I overthink punctuation. Same as Lorde. I freak out. Nothing is serious, which means I never want to seem excited about meeting for a beer, even if I can hear my heart inside my mouth, because what if I come off as crazy and kill the mood and ruin the whole thing? I decide that, since the last message I received ended with a period, I will reply with a period.

But I also want to be hung in the Louvre. Or at least tagged on Instagram. I want to crystallize the thing so I can hold it in my hands. I want to know that I have been wanted. “I remember everything, how we’d drift buying groceries, how you’d dance for me,” Lorde sings on “Hard Feelings/Loveless.” I want to remember everything before it disintegrates. You against painted bricks with the sun in your eyes, holding an impossible bouquet. Me in the gallery. You getting dressed. Me soaking wet.

“But it’s just a supercut of us.”

I mistake intensity for intimacy.

Call it an evening.

Put off the aftermath.

“In my head, I do everything right.”

The truth is that I am a hot mess. I explode. Crushed. I storm out. Wasted on the sidewalk until you carry me home. I hate what I did. I regret what I said.

Maggie Nelson writes, “Above all, I want to stop missing you.” She writes, “Was I too blue for you. Was I too blue.” She writes, “There is a color inside of the fucking, but it is not blue.”

My creative writing students read Bluets, and one of them reflected out loud: Is it an emblem of failure? Or an emblem of healing? Isn’t it necessary to hit rock bottom so that you can return to the world? All the blue is a reminder of how to live. So that you can love again.


Anything can be blue. Makeup. Perfume. Half your wardrobe. Melodrama requires collection. It contains texture and weight. It has to do with space. Public like the city. Private like your car. How space gets filled and balanced and emptied. Things get scattered. My earrings left upon the windowsill become a symbol. The way our bodies fit in summer.

Then, suddenly, “I wish I could get my things and just let go.”

I wonder what to do with books and a painting and a giant black sweater. I let go a long time ago, but I want a record of pain and growth, so I maintain a little museum in my bedroom. I just mean that I keep everything. I recognize how I felt.

Maggie Nelson writes, “Ask not what has been real and what has been false, but what has been bitter, and what has been sweet.”

I will listen to Melodrama while hurrying home with arms crossed over my heart, because fresh affection is blooming inside and I am cracking open. I will listen to Melodrama while disappearing in the middle of a party, because I think might die and just need a minute. I will listen to Melodrama while arranging flowers.

On her birthday, Lorde wrote about being “reckless and graceless and graceless and terrifying and tender.” I love and gravitate toward this vivid manner of being. Melodrama overwhelms me. It reaches me at that weird and fragile center. The part of me I consider irreconcilable. But Lorde is a perfect emotional teacher. I have remembered how to live fearlessly, with my heart on the surface.

Links: Lorde - Republic/Lava


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