in some handful of months from now i will look back on this place in time and think to myself well i made it out alive. and that’s got to count for something, right?
i knew you once. that feels so good to say outloud. “i knew you once.”
i knew you once when we were still seventeen. when we were still chasing something sunlit and violent, something whole and wide awake. i know a lot of things i didn’t know about then. like how scared you are right before everything’s about to change. how the second you lean over the edge all of a sudden you realize that nothing will ever be the same. i know a lot of things. i know how hard it is when it’s clear that the people you love only know a single facet of who you are. and you’re left lonely and moonlit, you’re left fractured and changed. because you’re soft and dawning, you’re the careful youth left burning and never yawning. but i knew you once. and you’d always say “this is not the place for goodbyes” and for a longtime i thought that it was. i thought i was living just to crumble from the inside. i’d listen to your words and hold them like they were all i’d have when you finally left - and i knew you were always just a last minute feeling away from leaving and forgetting.
but this isn’t about that. this is about the way i knew you once.
this is for the yellow leaves of november that i don’t know if you still remember. for the words hidden and stacked too close in all of your journals when you wanted to covet the feeling and the moment in a way that none of us could ever hold it. with those letters you wrote for me, still wet with their ink bleeding back to the spine of the page. for the way your accent always knew the softest way to pronounce the vowels in my name. this is for how the sky won’t ever be that blue again. maybe this is for nothing. but maybe this is for everything. for your ursa major, for my ursa minor. for your forty three freckles that your mother used to count when you were just a little boy. before you left the country, before they rearranged your bones. before we turned into burning buildings with all of the moments still left on our lips. we’d let them seethe in that place that was just some abandoned space between one sound and another. stay here with me please. just a little bit longer. sleepless and fearless like we were when we were still seventeen. sad, full, unwavering and endless.
maybe it is sad how everything we had is just something i vaguely remember now. maybe it is sad to miss something you spend most of the time forgetting you ever had. but maybe it’s not. and it’s too late to tell you all of those things we left unsaid. it’s too late to tell you that had we never found each other than maybe we would have never walked away. but this is not the place for goodbyes. because everything’s about to change. we are scared and sad but we’re still young and we’re still brave. we are leaning over the edge, we are suddenly realizing that nothing will ever be the same. and that’s okay. we are going to find something violent and sunlit, something whole and wide-awake. and you better swear to me, goddamnit you better swear, that this will never be the place for goodbyes.
As David Bowie was to Elvis, you might say, so Lady Gaga is to Madonna. Not so obvious, a little freaky, weird, a little ambiguous, not so much trying to arouse. Which is a very refreshing thing in the case of Lady Gaga, particularly when you consider all the billboards for Gentlemen’s Clubs around here, all featuring “sexy” girls with facial expressions so vapid and open-mouthed you can’t help thinking they must have been smacked over the head with a two-by-four before having been photographed. Please. It’s a good thing, to derail that, to provide alternatives to that.
The weirdest thing is that Paglia appears to suppose that Lady Gaga is even vaguely attempting to be “sexy” in the conventional way, as in, trying and failing. No. The force of Gaga’s appeal is in its very challenge to the old standards of “bombshell”, “chanteuse”, “star”, “diva” and so on. You’d have thought that an expert on sexual personae would have been able to figure that out.