we watched the sun go down as we were walking / I’d spend the rest of my life just standing here talking / you would explain the current, as I just smile / hoping that you’ll stay the same and nothing will change / and it’ll be just us, just for a while / do we even exist / that’s when i make the wish / to swim away with the fish
Miley Cyrus – “Malibu”
Now I’m going to ruin the story here, but it is important to know that the want for something never ends, desire meets new desire.
I was born to a household that woke up to jazz every morning and slept with a ghazal at night, slowly caressing their foreheads. A family that was birthed by music, that respected it, honored it, and loved it.
On the night of the funeral I played loud ragtime jazz in the room after I buried my father under a sunset in the summer. The music made me watch him go away once more but only this time, I said my goodbyes.
And although his sudden departure had logical explanations, it was said that it was just an act of God.
It rained the day of the funeral, and you couldn’t tell how much of the wetness on everyone’s face were tears and how much of it was just water, and I think that was an act of God.
Once, someone built a boat out of sinkable materials and told the world it was impossible to sink, and that was an act of Man.
The ship was so massive that it couldn’t steer out of the way of an iceberg which tore through the ship’s hull, sinking it and claiming the lives of over 1,500 of its passengers, and I am sorry, but that was probably an act of God.
Because its calming to know that things are not in our control. It is convenient to not have anything to do with the grief of someone or the grief that belongs to you.
We are just like the waves that flow back and forth / Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and you’re there to save me / And I wanna thank you with all of my heart / It’s a brand new start / A dream come true / In Malibu
Miley Cyrus – Malibu
Miley Cyrus’s Malibu is about loving someone so much that they make you want to stay alive on whatever corner of earth you figured was wretched and unbearable before you met them in hopes to be saved by whatever love is keeping you from dying.
And, look, its nobody’s job to keep any of us alive other than ourselves, and I get that. But I’ve been to the funerals, and I’ve held friends on the cold tile of their apartments with pills spilled out at their feet, and I’ve washed bed sheets three times in a row to get blood out of them, and I have been both the arms reaching and the arms pulling back. And so it’s all a matter of perspective is what I’m saying. Its all a matter of what is needed for us to not have to return to a bed that is ours, and ours alone. And who do we imagine when we cuddle our pillows, who is still someone that we wish was not distant from us every night.
In a podcast when asked about the song Malibu, Miley said that she wrote the song while driving to her first day at The Voice, and that her driving is terrible and she wrote the song and sang it out loud all through the trip and recorded it as soon as she was at her venue trailer and I think that too is an act of God.
I think feeling the same pain as so many people that are lost, and then making a song that could somehow tell them that they are not the only ones lost, is an act of God.
Any song by Miley Cyrus is about love, it speaks about the yearning for love. It tells you that a love that requires sacrifice is not a love for you.
And staying and wanting to stay are not the same thing. Just like wanting someone and loving someone is not the same thing. It is not the same thing to tell someone you love them over a text because you live oceans apart. It shrinks the distance but the distance remains.
What about the people that are reminded by the sunset of those they have loved and lost. What does the night bring for them if not the desire to join their lovers.
I never wore seatbelts in cars because I maybe wanted to be alive, but not enough to stop myself from dying if I happened to be thrown from a car. This is a small measure, in some ways: the choices we make to stay alive or not are sometimes a matter of the smallest circumstance. To unbuckle a seatbelt on a highway and to take a knife to your own skin aren’t equal measures. One action, once taken, forces a darkness to descend, and the other is taken to not prevent the darkness from descending once it arrives.
There’s an old poetic saying, that if you walk into fire with someone, you only burn once.
Miley Cyrus is one of the most popular pop stars of her generation. Born to famous country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, she has inherited fame and talent of her own. But it is interesting to see that she struggled even though she didn’t have to, she crafted her own legacy and did not settle to carry her fathers.
To make a legacy means to be remembered, and perhaps that’s what Miley wanted. And that’s what most of us can have after we are done living. To be remembered by people that love us is all that is left when flesh meets the soil.
Once, I was in Karachi, in the middle of a summer where it rained so violently and consistently that I spent what felt like hours at a time in the driver’s seat of my parked car watching the water gather and then cascade down my windshield outside of the grocery store or the post office or the bar where my friends sat inside laughing, waiting for me. And I could convince myself, briefly, that the world outside was flooding and I would be carried away to anywhere else. And I’ve read enough of The Quran to know that floods and sickness are both acts of God.
In that same Once, I was in Karachi and liked a woman from miles away, a woman who was almost an entire sea away from where her father became sick, and the only plane she could take that would get her back to her sick father in time had a long layover in Karachi. And nothing else makes sense but for that to be an act of God.
And I got to see her for the first time and she was devastated and we went to this cafe called Roadside, which had the worst bunkabab but had the best chai. And we shared the bunkabab and complimented the chai, and we laughed at the accent of the waiter and Karachites.
And we fell in love that night, we sat at seaview holding hands and never kissed, and we did not find the need to kiss that night, but we did three months later when I made a road trip to Karachi with the boys just to meet her. And this is the same time when someone played Party In The USA right after Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe and I think that’s a smart way to get people to throw their bodies to the beat of a song.
That girl and that trip is just a memory now, because the girl moved to Wisconsin and the distance became too much, and I remember telling her that there’s a mythology that after people die; if you die with guilt, your prolonged dream is about the moment that guilt was birthed. But if you die peacefully and loved, you descend into the moment that you loved the most. And I told her, that for me, that moment was when we sat at sea view holding hands.
I told her that heaven for me will never be about honey oceans and beautiful women, it will be about us sitting in a hotel room in Karachi snuggled up in bed watching La La Land and singing the lyrics of every musical.
And so when Miley says to seek joy in other places, perhaps the idea is to not stay stranded when the person you love is not with you. Perhaps atop each moment of loneliness hangs an opportunity to not be alone.
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