Look at Me

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Look at me,
I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree
And I feel like I’m clinging to a cloud
I can’t understand
I get misty just holding your hand

I used to hate this song. It played on one of my grandmother’s music boxes, and I never liked the sadness and melancholy of the melody. Her other music boxes played happy waltzes or cheery standards – this one was a depressing dirge, even if you wound it up as tightly as it would go, trying to speed it along and bring about a livelier rendition.

Thirty years later, I have discovered a new appreciation of it. When sitting in Copley Square last week, I listened as a trumpeter played it, without accompaniment, just like the lone notes of a music box. I looked it up again and listened to the words, and when I found this version by the great Ella Fitzgerald, I was hooked. That change of heart doesn’t happen very often, especially with a stubborn coot like myself. Sometimes, though, something different happens, whether by chance or circumstance or the simple act of Ms. Fitzgerald working her vocal enchantment over a deliciously languid piano.

Walk my way
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your hello
That music I hear
I get misty the moment you’re near

Yes, it’s over-the-top, and perhaps romantically overwrought, but now and then it’s okay to indulge in that. In fact, sometimes it’s a necessity. We are too quick to stop the possibility of love, too closed off and guarded to simply let it happen. And why should it be so? As the lone trumpeter played the last lingering notes, the square resumed its chatter and noise – cars beeped at pedestrians, tour buses called their carriage back aboard, and sea gulls cried from the turrets of Trinity Church.

Can’t you see that you’re leading me on,
And it’s just what I want you to do?
Don’t you notice how hopelessly I’m lost?
That’s why I’m following you

I took out some paper and began to write. It’s what I do when I begin to feel lost. If I can find my way on paper, it usually translates to life. Not always, but most of the time – even if there are messier things than can be solved by a few well-chosen words. I wrote to a few friends, to some family, to a loved one, and then I wrote to myself – things that I didn’t want to forget, things that were too valuable to lose, things I couldn’t afford not to remember. And as tends to happen when it got fleshed out on paper, I felt a little better.

On my own when I wander through this wonderland alone
Never knowing my right foot from my left
My hat from my glove
I’m too misty, and too much in love
Too misty, and too much in love.

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