Making Islands

Saturday night at the 2019 Nelsonville Music Festival, Death Cab for Cutie shuts their set with “Transatlanticism.” It’s the one tune the person I just began dating, who brought me here this evening, had planned to hear.

“I can’t accept they played it,” he says.

We’re strolling connected at the hip through the shadowed valley, away from the primary stage. Over the walkway, high school young men skateboard here and there a half-pipe. Children wearing sparkle in obscurity pieces of jewelry rest drooped on their dads’ shoulders. The air scents like lager and elephant ears. Encompassing everything are the tree-furred outlines of the Appalachian lower regions, rising and falling along the twilight skyline.

“It’s destiny,” he says, and I snicker.

“I was going to state something very similar,” I state. “I truly accept that.”

We meander toward a bunch of 1850s-period lodges. On most ends of the week, the lodges are stages for pioneer reenactments. During the celebration, for cozy melodic exhibitions. In the structure marked the No-Fi Cabin, a man named Josh plays piano and sings “I Will Survive.”

Afterward, I’ll read that the lodge used to be a one-room school building. For the present, I envision it as a little white church. I envision it’s white. This evening, within dividers are thrown lavender by a corner stage light. Rather than a cross, a school of turquoise and purple plastic fish are nailed to the thick wood shafts.

A crowd of people of 10-or-so sits on risqué seats. They hold half quart glasses halfway loaded with specialty brew. They chime in. Josh completes the tune, and the lady in the front seat pivots and offers the room a beverage from her Nalgene bottle.

“Simply water,” she says. She wears a games bra and neon spandex shorts that spell, in rhinestone-studded letters, “Resist the urge to panic and Bite Me.” She demands “Nation Roads,” and as Josh starts to sing, everybody in the lodge raises their beverages, their voices. My sweetheart, who’s from this zone, inclines toward me. “This is our melody,” he says. “Since we’re so near West Virginia.” His our and we allude to Southeast Ohioans, Appalachians, and I, originating from Indiana, don’t have a clue whether I ought to chime in.

At the end piano note, my sweetheart challenges his help. He relinquishes my hand to point at the cattle rustler cap resting underneath the piano seat. He says, “Why not flip around that cap, Josh?”

“I love this,” Josh says. “I don’t do it for the cash.” But we pass the cap around in any case, fill it with dollar greenbacks and quarters.

Josh picks “Glory be” next. The lady in the first line fits, and I close my eyes and tune in as thank heavens resound through the outside lodge.

At some point during my nineteen years of Christian training, I discovered that the word thank heaven interprets as I will commend my God, yet every web source I’ve counseled deciphers the word not as a guarantee to laud yet as a urging—a Hey, you, acclaim God.

I hold back to join the lodge chorale until the third stanza. “The sacred or the wrecked glory be.”


In school, my Biblical Literature teacher revealed to us that we should focus on the expressions of the melodies we sang at chapel and sanctuary, to gauge them against our religious philosophy and not sing what we didn’t accept. Preferable to be quiet over to sing erroneously.

“That is the nearest I’ve been to chapel in quite a while,” I tell my beau on our stroll back to the vehicle.

I haven’t went to chapel in ten months, since I began to feel I could never again sing genuinely refrains of give up, of expectation. I never again recognized what I accepted, and the more I’ve thought about it, the less I know. English Modernist authors like Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, experts of dealing with numerous perspectives, depicted a perplexing comprehension of the real world. Nothing and nobody is any a certain something. Glory bes can be blessed and broken, both. A lodge can be a congregation, a phase, a school building. An aquarium.

We cross a long field to the rock parking garage, and my sweetheart discloses to me how happy he is that we encountered this night together, that he got the chance to give me a player in his reality. I grin, think about the fish, some swimming one bearing, others in the inverse, all nailed to the lavender-lit dividers. I think yet don’t let him know: my reality, as well.

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