In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
If I could, I would take snapshots of different moments in my life and frame them. There are so many fleeting moments that are so raw and real that words just can’t ever do them justice. They’re the simple things that, if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss. The best comparison I can think of is the “Infinite Scene” from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A heightened sense of self and observation of the world around you brings a profound new meaning to ordinary happenings. I wish I could put that feeling into words. It’s like falling in love and breaking your heart in one fell swoop. It’s so heartbreakingly surreal.
I get that feeling every time I read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I first read the poem for a college English Lit class I took while I was in high school. I wrote an eight page paper analyzing Prufrock the poem and Prufrock the man. It has always been a favorite for me. And in the past 2 1/2 years it has garnered an even more profound significance to me. When I met my ex boyfriend (Let’s call him Michelangelo for the sake of staying within T.S Eliot’s world), we started a courtship. It was a summer love. We would stay up all night on the phone, getting to know each other, and talking about anything and everything. Conversation for us was easy. One of us could talk for half an hour while the other sat silently, genuinely happy to be on the other end of the phone line. One night, Michelangelo brought up Prufrock and I expressed that it was my favorite poem, rivaled only by works by Poe. As we gushed about Eliot and Prufrock, we came to the realization that the likelihood of not only both of us knowing this poem but it being a favorite for each was slim. Maybe it was then that I knew Michelangelo was different and I wanted to keep him around for as long as possible.
Summer came and went and so did our romance. Michelangelo would disappear on me, sometimes for a few days, and sometimes I wouldn’t hear from him for a month. And then he’d call, and I’d go running back. I tried to convince everyone that I was cool with just being friends, that I didn’t want anything more from him after our summer romance didn’t lead to anything more. When I would see him, he would usually end up kissing me, but our relationship never progressed past that. And then one night, after having too much to drink, I called Michelangelo in a panic, deserted by my friends and having no where to stay for the night. After that, everything changed. I didn’t realize it at first, but Michelangelo stopped disappearing. We’d talk every day, and we were spending more and more of our time together. I was thrilled. Our summer love was reinvented.
One night, we were in his room, and I told him I was going to clean it. He and his friends would spend night after night writing music, playing video games, and drinking in his room. There would be empty beer bottles and clothes everywhere. He told me not to, that he would do it. He didn’t like me cleaning up his messes but I genuinely didn’t mind. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. There was a mess, I spent the majority of my time there, and I wanted to do something nice for him.
I started cleaning, and he kept protesting. I didn’t listen, of course, so in retaliation, he laid down in the middle of the floor on top of the whole mess and stretched out so I couldn’t pick up around him. He reached over and grabbed his book of works by T.S. Eliot and started reading. I gave up on cleaning and curled up alongside him. I always fit so perfectly in the crook of his arm and his arms would rest effortlessly around me. I looked up at him and asked him to read for me. He protested and I whined. He skimmed through the pages and started reading Prufrock to me. I had never heard the poem read outloud, but I can’t imagine how anyone else would have made that poem sound so perfect. I started reading along with him, and when we finished the stanza, he said “That’s my favorite stanza out of the whole thing.” “…me too.” Neither of us were surprised.
From that point, Prufrock has taken on a different meaning to us. Michelangelo was stuck at work late one night and I couldn’t stay out until the bar closed. When I left, I grabbed a notebook from my car and scrawled, “In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.” I signed it with a heart and stuck it under his windshield.
If I could take a snapshot of moments in my life and frame them…the first one would be of Michelangelo and me laying together amongst piles of dirty laundry and scattered beer bottles: My head on his chest, him reading me The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.