|Mates of State from their 2010 album Crushes (The Covers Mixtape)|
Mates of State is a husband-wife duo who have been together since 1997. Intensely romantic and danceable, counterpoint harmonies and trade-off vocals; a Lilliputian drum set next to his lanky frame, her short blonde bangs dancing away on keys. I started thinking, as I watched them frolic and and melody the night away…
…they've been together since '97; married since 2001. And you see Jason, thudding away on the skins, looking across stage, in full view of audience, at his wife and bandmate Kori. And smiling. Knowing full well they're performing. Middle of a public performance. But yet, the glances they slip each other have a spirited intimacy that feels occasionally like it's just the two of them; singing in their living room, for themselves. She, gleeful bouncing, almost-shyness; a self-conscious sincerity that rises above performance, grins back, head bobbing.
They look like they like each other.
How much of it is mythology? How much enjoyment of this performance do people get - do I get - from the backstory of them being together for 15 years and still being in love; still making music together?
If they divorced tomorrow, how would that affect their career? The mythology would not be there.
If you don't start with a dream, then where do you have to go from there?
Many people, when they're in love at the beginning, start with a dream, and then they listen to too many people. And they let other voices become louder than the person they were in love with. And they forget to hold hands and steal glances at each other in public. And that dream, that future mythology becomes today's sad reality.
But sometimes - no, not sometimes: always: dreams need to be propped up. The bridge of reality is a tenuous one. Reality can change at any moment. It's not like reality is a rock-solid concept that is never-changing. Everybody has somebody they know who has gone through something tragic in a split second, where reality changes just like that (snap fingers). Reality is a fluid concept, and just like you Pavlov-reinforce character traits that you want to sustain by making them habits, you do the same thing with your most important relationships:
You treat yourself with respect, and you will mirror that to others. You put yourself down, and you will create an image of yourself as somebody weak who will end up resenting others for being stronger. And you will be unable to pursue your dreams.
(next is the Rocky paragraph, and then I'm done with the archetypal inspirational stuff)
You look in the mirror, and you tell yourself: I am strong enough. I can do this. Whatever it may be. And you may have doubt; you may waver, but you remind yourself that you can. You never, ever say "I have the potential to do this." No: you say "I can do this." Even if you can't in the moment. You say it because you have to believe that it is possible. There is a time to be realistic; but there is also a time to say I am going to believe in this with everything and it is going to happen. And you make it happen. You set the foundation for success by believing first and foremost. Then you put in the work. You keep the dream, and you work to keep the dream alive (I promise you, world: I will not make a horribly-designed inspirational photographic poster out of this :)
(unless it would be wildly popular and make me a lot of money, which is also a dream :)
You keep the dream alive; you prop the dream up sometimes by putting on a performance. That's not a bad thing. If your entire life is performance, that is probably a bad thing, where everything you do is entirely for other people's benefit. But when you reinforce reality with a dream, you have the opportunity to merge the two. Going back to Mates of State (who, incidentally, did play the Greatest Song Ever, For the Actor). Mates of State have been together a long time. They have a performance to put on, every time they tour. And their may be a merging of their public and their private world. They probably go on stage sometimes where they've been arguing, and have said mean things to each other, or maybe just not been very nice. And then they're on stage, and they have a show to put on. And part of that show is giving a performance that includes them as the lead characters. We love a romance; we love a love story. Great music + real life love story = rock star romance. Great story.
At this point, Jason & Kori's story may be interwoven into the fabric of both their reality and their stage personas. Maybe it's tough to know. There's an old Jewish custom - I do not remember any particular details, except for the main idea that for the first one or two weeks after marriage, the couple would spend each night at the residence of a different family member or friend, and the thinking was that it would reinforce the notion that their marriage was about more than just themselves; that by joining themselves together, their relationship transcended the two of them and was creating a web of relationships that once created, they would have no right to undo. Sort of like a positive guilt trip.
The idea of spending my first couple weeks of marriage with any family members is kind of a rotten thought. But I do buy into that concept. A lot. That you owe other people something by virtue of the decision you made to be with somebody. That you create an accountability system that doesn't let you just, on a whim, decide that you're going to try something else, or try someone else out. You create a world where you are beholden to carry through on a promise you made. The beautiful thing is that by letting yourself trust other people enough to recognize that you just can't trust yourself in the moment, your life becomes not only more safe and secure, but it also offers, if you choose to accept that offer - the chance to float that dream aloft, higher and higher.
I imagine in a joint counseling session that Kori and Jason would acknowledge that there are days where they don't feel like being in the same room. Or the same house. Or the same stage with each other. I think that most, if not any married couple who has been together for a long time, can and should be able to say, without any sense of guilt Yeah, I need my space…sometimes I don't feel like being around you. That's okay. Sometimes you're together in the moment, even when you don't feel like it. Like Mates of State. They have created a world where they are accountable. Where they have a sort of compact with their fans, and by perpetuating that mythology, they have helped (I would think) to create a reality. The world needs more Mates of States.
(And if they ever do split, this will be one of the saddest pieces I have ever written)
The multitude of gorgeous possibilities in every day with one person. A never-ending opportunity to be ceaselessly inventive and creative by virtue of that one choice. By virtue of being beholden and by choosing to be with that one person.
We will take our ideas and our voices (not quite in the blended harmonies of Mates :) and we will sail in our Zeppelin together through the seas, through the storms, through the skies, through the days and weeks, and sometimes we will do so alone with each other, and sometimes with many people surrounding. But always, we will look for those opportunities to steal a glance.
At each other.
That is meant for that one other person.
It may be intercepted by the world, and that's fine. Because the world needs to be inspired. And the world needs to see people in love.
Thank you, Mates of State.
We love you.
Mates of State
For the Actor
Bring It Back
Mates of State
For the Actor
Bring It Back