I let Ben Folds week run a little long. I actually kept listening to him through Monday of this week. I had a business trip at the end of last week that threw my schedule off a little bit. I didn’t see any harm in it. I knew I could give Ben a couple of extra days, and I knew I could comfortably shorten this week a bit. But it’s Wednesday now, and I really need to wrap up last week and start talking about this week.
I heard Ben Folds long ago as part of Ben Folds Five. The song I heard was Brick, and it suffered from an unfortunate association with events that I am not going to talk about. I’m not holding back uncharacteristically. Some stories are not mine to tell. Because of the association, I ignored Ben Folds in all forms after that. Emotionally, he had hit too close to home and I didn’t want to be called out like that. So I did what immature late-teens/early-twenties me did when forced to confront my emotions: I walked away.
As mentioned, I came back to Ben Folds because of Heather. Her insistence and persistence finally won me over, and I started to listen. And I liked what I heard. Mid-to-late-twenties me was a little less resistant and immature. He was more willing to explore possibilities that he had previously closed off for superficial and superfluous reasons.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m crafting a metaphor and drawing a correlation here. My love for Ben Folds and my love for Heather have some really direct relations.
I met both in college. I was young, I was full of idealism and lacking in wisdom. I had dreams and no perspective. I encountered them both, and they both challenged me, especially emotionally. And I was uncomfortable. And I created reasons to walk away.
Years later, I had less idealism and more ideas. I was wiser, I understood the world a little better, and I was willing to understand myself a little better. And Heather came back into my life. And she brought Ben Folds with her. Both continued to challenge me (Heather more than Ben, to be honest). But this time I didn’t walk away. This time I listened. This time I learned. This time I allowed myself to grow. I let something back into my life that would bring me happiness, but would also make me think. It would make me rock out in my car, but it would also reveal my naked emotions and force me to deal with them.
Again, Ben did this at one level, Heather at a much greater one. I can credit them both with a lot of my emotional growth, but Heather truly deserves more of the credit. Ben Folds got to sit comfortably in a studio, record some music and put it out into the world. He didn’t have to deal with the fallout that happens when it gets to me. Heather had to take the full brunt of that. I don’t know how she did, but she has for close to two decades now. On the other hand, Ben doesn’t get to physically be hear for the happy moments he helps create. Heather at least gets that reward. She’ll argue with me as to which one she gets more of, the good times or the bad, but she legally agreed to be around for both. I’m glad I was in a place to let both of them back in at the right time, before it was too late.
I was going to write about some of the small memories I have with Ben Folds. I was going to talk about the night Heather and I drove around Columbus listening to The Sound of the Life of the Mind for no other reason than to drive around and listen to the new album. I was going to talk about how Landed always makes Heather and I think of the time our friend Josh was traveling all the time and he would call us from the airport by saying “Come pick me up, I’ve landed.” I was going to talk about how Belinda always makes me laugh, but then makes me sad. The chorus is humorous, but if you listen to the lyrics it’s a really sad song. I was going to talk about my love of piano rock.
But at the end of the week, I couldn’t think of any of those things. All I could think of was how happy I was that Heather was back in my life, and it’s a pretty nice side benefit that she brought her love of Ben Folds with her.