Listening to Melissa Etheridge (1991/2007)

I don't care what they think.
I don't care what they say.
What do they know about this love, anyway?
--Melissa Etheridge, "Come to My Window"
Along with more than 50 other people at Pete's Oscar Party I heard "I Need To Wake Up" by Melissa Etheridge win at the 79th Academy® Awards. I had heard the song when I watched An Inconvenient Truth, but had forgotten. (Perhaps I had been too preoccupied with finding the footnotes to the science the film presented.)

Perhaps twice a decade I experience with someone what I describe, not as affection, not as being "in love", not as desire, not infatuation, not lust, but limerence. I experience limerence over an extended time as periods of pleasure and of pain that correspond with my internal perceptions and are inconsistent with my rational evaluation of the situation. (On one hand, for me infatuation is principally pleasurable and relatively short. On the other hand, being in love is consistent with my rational evaluation of the situation, and its pleasures and pains correspond to the events in our lives.) At its worst, I feel anxiety in the other's presence, watching them for small cues that--by giving them the benefit of the doubt--I can interpret positively. I think of the other daily, and even wake up in the early hours of the morning.

In moments like these I love to listen to Melissa Etheridge. Hearing her longing lets me relax. Why? Because her lyrics describe a life more obsessive than mine ever is, and I see myself as normal again. My favorite is her self-titled album. Songs titles like "Precious Pain," "Don't You Need," and "Watching You" convey the thrust of this album. The lyrics continue the theme:
  • "Don't you need? Don't you want?/Can't you taste it when you're alone?"
  • "Silence is the steel that pierces and cuts me to the bone./In dreams the hand that touches you is mine, and mine alone."
  • "If I can't love you/I don't want to love you./If I can't hold you/I don't want to be thinking of you."
At the Oscars I was happy to hear the passion is still present in Melissa Etheridge's voice, nearly two decades after her debut, and more than fifteen years since another passionate Melissa introduced me to her music.

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