ode to porcelina

by Stephen

I love this song. I first stumbled across it when I was a new father. We’d go for late evening drives down darkened farm roads because a short time spent there often meant not spending countless hours into the night glued to the rocking chair. Porcelina made her nightly visit to us on those drives, lulling our daughter to sleep. I wondered how it worked with its violent eruption of sound two minutes and thirteen seconds in, but maybe because my fingers never left the volume knob, it did. I can’t remember a time it didn’t.

Listening to it now gives me a kind of experience I wouldn’t have had the patience to appreciate when I was much younger. The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Porcelina and the Vast Oceans” offers rhythmic waves that pull up to wash over me and then back out, entrancing my stoic facade asleep as auspiciously as it did my once-infant daughter. My reckless emotions batted down and barren for anyone looking to see. It’s one of those songs I put on whenever I want to feel.

The raw feelings exposed by my favorite Pumpkins songs are of a young boy, frozen in time and not expecting to go anywhere, watching his big brother frantically rip back the curtains of worlds unknown and searching for his place in it.

It drifts me back to an era of music and of life where every gust of wind felt like a generation’s last gasp for air, falling, looking for a foothold in the clouds. My older brother secretly collected and stashed pieces of the 90’s revolution in his CD book my parents knew nothing about: Smashing Pumpkins, 311, Rage, Sublime, Beck and Oasis. I think his favorite was Pumpkins, and 1979 was his anthem—maybe or maybe not just because that’s the year he was born, but it truly felt like the anthem of the whole generation. More than anything, music was his window into the world, a world he would soon grasp briefly before letting go.

Have you ever been asked to ponder: “If you could visit with any person in time, who would it be?” It must be my brother for me. My rebellious, big-eyed 1996 teenaged brother. He was curious and he coveted the most damning dream: To live excitedly and to see the world. I’d tell him he’s amazing, and I’d tell him how awesome and how big the world is. We’d listen to his music and talk about the journey it takes us on. The crescendo of waves would wash over us and leave us barren and unencumbered by the dogma, carrying us adrift to that special place, the world Porcelina promises us if we’ll let go of the bullshit and walk, as Billy says, but no—swim to the fringes.

We’d go there together, and we’d never look back, because the world Porcelina beckons us to is the foothold in the clouds. It’s what we’re all looking for, desperately hoping that when we find it our grip is strong enough to hold on. And the hidden truth, the truth I hadn’t yet understood when I was younger, is that none of us are strong enough to hold on alone.

I had a friend. I wish he did too.

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This is a profound emotionally fastidious evocative treatise on youthful dreams, and reflective of, but perhaps not attaining the dream, yet looking back and reliving the hope. Extremely well-written, intelligent; it carried me into your journey!