today is march 24th. it is 35 degrees in chicago, illinois. for my entire life it has been this cold in march and every year it feels like it shouldn’t be. today i went up north a bit and went to a coffee shop connected to the red line station that i was supposed to go to with a girl i only this semester got the courage to ask to be my friend. we didn’t go but i’m grateful to her anyway. i read two short stories in a book a boy in a gen ed class i’m taking lent me. one about indiana and the experience of small town midwestern life. it’s called “in the heart of the heart of the country” by william h. glass. i do recommend it. the other, “janus” by ann beattie, about a woman’s attachment to an object and a parallel to the roman mythological figure of the same name. i recommend that one as well.
there’s an air about the midwest in the late parts of winter that don’t seem to be retreating any time soon. i got thinking about things that make me think of the midwest and all the things that surround me. and i thought about la dispute.
i’m 20 and, like a lot of people my age or thereabout who were into kinda emo/pop punk/whatever, la dispute hit me when i was about 15/16 and it was a revelation. the band that inspired a thousand forearm tattoos. rooms of the house came out in march of my junior year of high school. noisey had a discussion with jordan dreyer at length about what this album means and the themes in it. all of which come across pretty easy especially in context of their previous album that i didn’t fully get until listening to dreyer explain it fully on their bandcamp. what sticks out more to me though is the way rooms of the house makes me feel connected to the place i’ve lived for my entire life. not because of specific signifiers like an into it. over it. record but just in the overwhelming feeling of the description of scenes.
rooms of the house feels like the midwest in march. barren and straight forward and still. harsh at points. a bridge collapse and a tornado and not discussing a lost child. objects strewn around and remembering warmer times with someone you loved once and the pain that came with that loss.
i love this record. jordan dreyer’s millions of words painting pictures of time periods and places i know or feel like places i know. stories but not in the same way wildlife did stories. rooms of the house has something distinctly midwestern and i can feel that. if you know me, you know i’m partial to bands from the midwest. nobody does emo like the midwest. (except maybe, like, you blew it. rip.) and in a visceral, teenage way i love la dispute because there is something about it that captures the things i love and hate about having grown up here. about having stayed here to go to college. and that i dread about the thought of leaving. the midwest can feel constricting and depressing.
one thing that does stick out to me in that noisey article is jordan dreyer discussing the child we lost 1963 and his grandparents. midwesterners have a reputation of being friendly but the other side of that is that friendly doesn’t mean open. stoicism and being closed off, to me, is more midwestern than friendliness. or at least friendliness doesn’t exist without a level of stoicism and reserved feelings. the unspoken feeling of emotional distance between me and every member of my family. the challenging dichotomy of my positive, wonderful relationship with my dad and his visible discomfort even mentioning me seeing a therapist much less my actual mental health. the feeling of knowing someone loves you despite no tangible signs of it.
the other aspect of this album that i connect with so deeply focuses on objects and their significance. i surround myself with objects that have specific and important memories connected to them. i’ve always connected to the way dreyer describes objects of a life out of context and obscure objects you can’t get rid of. shared objects. for me, an into it. over it. record my high school boyfriend gave me and wrote on to ask me to be his girlfriend. a poster i got the day after a miserable five hour drive to bled fest with a person whose role in my life has changed a lot since then. ironically for this post, la dispute performed wildlife in full. there’s a dvd of christopher nolan’s film the prestige i bought at a record store for $3 that reminds me more of living in paris than anything else. negatives of blurry photos of my friends and europe and chicago. these things that people collect that, out of context, have little meaning but to me make up a significant amount of my memories and the way i keep people i love in my life even when they start to drift.
rooms of the house is in no way la dispute’s most challenging album but it, more than any other piece of music, makes me think about the challenging parts of identifying with where you live and the things you collect and people you know or once knew.
it’s 2:34 in the afternoon. march 24th, 2018. 35 degrees.
originally posted march 24, 2018