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Fandom & Falling in Love

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Fallingwater

There’s this moment when Maggie Rogers lets out the first note of Fallingwater during her SNL performance that opens something in me. It’s not just her voice, it’s how her whole body inhabits the sound like it can barely contain its force. A bullet about to blast, but instead she somehow carefully but effortlessly turns the energy into a bursting blossom, opening all at once in the brief space of that single note.

She is laid bare, and so I am laid bare. Her power exposed and so my power is exposed. I feel free in a way I’ve never felt before. I want to inhabit that force in myself, completely and joyfully. To find my note and let it burst.

 

Thirteen

There’s this moment when Clarke comes to say goodbye to Lexa, maybe for the last time. Lexa is, as always, trying to keep herself contained, safe from the dangers of feeling. Clarke is, as always, doing her best to be the leader her people need at the expense of her own needs, her own joy. The wall between them holds for awhile—until they touch, until Clarke breaks. Her face changes, barely but completely. Her eyes fill with the sadness of seeing a glimpse of a future that can never be possible.

Clarke’s face holds a universe of devastating longing, triggering a delicious and deep longing in me. My body fills with the memory of my own moments in the darkness, when beauty and endings are all tangled together.

 

Sister Janet

There’s this moment when the first bar of Sister Janet rolls out when I can feel the pulse of the universe, when God is sitting next to me and she has her head back, smiling at all the ways her creation surprises her. Not long after there’s another moment when the chorus flows like the ocean tide, vast and predictable but still utterly mysterious. When Tori moves up the keys, the world is young again, green, the air clear and full of life.

She time travels via piano, and I can see the whole history of my being. My past lives full of wonder and sorrow, my future as unbounded light and joy. I know (again and briefly) that I contain multitudes. And so do you.

 

Imagine Me & You

There’s this moment after Rachel and Luce spend an evening together alone, and they’re saying good night. Instinctively, Rachel leans in to kiss Luce, even though she has a husband who is lovely and who she loves. But she can’t help it. It’s like gravity, innate and unstoppable. Then a car drives by, its lights exposing the secret moment, and Rachel quickly pulls away before they touch, wrenching me out of sweet expectation into gasping disappointment.

My body tingles as every cell remembers the terrible and beautiful feeling of what it’s like to fall in love with someone I’m not supposed to. I want to hold onto the unrealized desire, to live in that moment of unquenched anticipation forever.

 --

I think the hardest thing about being a fan is the falling in love. Because I do—I fall hard and I fall completely. I do whatever I can to stay close to these moments.

I rewatch, relisten. I study the scenes before to create a timeline of the buildup, and the scenes after to experience the power of the aftermath.

I listen intently to the other songs to discover just exactly why this particular melody or beat or progression moves me so much. I want to uncover every detail, soak in every movement. I want to know those moments deeply, get inside them, hold open the vast space they create inside me.

I stay up at night to keep these moments close, and the lack of sleep is okay because the delirium of the infatuation carries me through the day. My wife, God bless her, allows me these extramarital affairs and patiently endures my describing what these moments do to me.

It’s embarrassing, really, and I never want it to end. I want to distill these moments, steep them in mason jars and drink up their power and warmth and mystery whenever I need them. 

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But it’s hard to fall in love with a moment, a sound, a feeling that I can never touch, hold, or look in the eyes. They’re not quite illusions because I can take them in—they have substance for my eyes and ears, and even my skin if I turn the volume up—but these moments are not of this world. Though they open me to my power and joy and mystery, as any profound relationship should, these moments, like stars, are their own.

They don’t even belong to their creators, though I often trip over that fact. After all, love is love, and I just want to get closer. So I latch onto the people who embody that moment, that sound, that feeling. I scour the internet for any time Maggie Rogers mentions Fallingwater—how she wrote it, its story, what it was like to perform it on SNL. I watch endless interviews and con panels with Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey, hoping they’ll say something about what it was like to be part of that scene. (Maybe they even enjoyed the kissing? Why do I hope that?) The same goes for Piper Perabo and Lena Headey. It’s been a little easier with Tori—I’ve loved her a long time and have seen her live many times, and being in her presence, her piano ringing through the space, seems to satisfy my longing.

But I still write her letters (and sometimes I send them). I tweet at actors and musicians, hoping my clever comment catches their attention. I secretly hope they read my fic. I want them to see me. I want them to know how they’ve affected me. And I want them to reply.

I know it’s not really fair. However thoughtful and talented and intentional they are, I know it’s not Maggie or Alycia or Lena that I love—it’s what they create.

(And I know it’s not just them. It’s also writers, other musicians, producers, sound-mixers, and a host of people who came together to cause me to fall in love—but that’s not very romantic.)

I often try to imagine the moment when their creation launches out of their orbit and into the gravity of so many other people’s experience. What it’s like when someone like me takes their work for themselves, when someone like me assumes (or hopes) so much about who they are because of the way I experience their creation.

I imagine it might be like a drug—the affirmation and adoration.
But then comes the expectation of creating more, so the drug doesn’t run out.
Maybe it gets tiring trying to keep up.
Maybe it means more to the fans than it does to you.
Maybe it gets lonely when people constantly conflate your creation with you.
It was just one scene out of a thousand that season…
I wrote that song at a very specific moment in my life…

But there I go again, assuming, trying to get closer.

How can I love these moments without needing more from them?

Then again, needing more from them is what brought me into fandom. The endless longing to get inside them has introduced me to some of my best friends.

I travelled to Belgium once on a whim to hang out with other fans for a weekend. Left on a Thursday and came back on a Monday. One fan I met many years ago was in my wedding party last summer. Another new fan friend and I talk Christianity and being queer on Tumblr. Fandom has given me my people.

The endless longing to get inside these moments leads me to write: fic, letters, this.

I pull from own world, my own struggles, to fill the space they leave me with. These moments have sparked a life in me I didn’t know I had.

So maybe the real question is: what holds me back from making these moments completely my own?