I wonder if any of us will ever be able to decide who’s version of ‘Such Great Heights’ is better. I’ll be on my death bed in 80 years and I’ll be asking the nurse if Iron and Wine vs. The Postal Service got it right. I remember playing both on repeat depending on my mood for the majority of sophomore year of high school and my world felt 8 million times smaller than it does with now and I felt smaller and my life whole life seemed smaller. It was small, no bigger than my home town, and small enough to keep fixed and safe. You’d think we would all feel stuck there and sometimes we would joke that we were, but it wasn’t really true. I felt in control of things and didn’t think I’d ever not feel like that or even miss it. I remember I was so excited about things that would happen next and so hopeful and I thought I was getting the anxiousness over with in this small safe little space and that as soon as I got out I wouldn’t feel so scared of it anymore, of not being small, and of having all the space in the world to stretch out. I think it’s because I still thought I could do anything and that figuring out which something I chose to do and be would happen on without a conscious effort. It all made so much sense because I didn’t know anything at all.

All I knew was that I liked to steal my boyfriends aux cord play this song in his little red car and drive away from my house and then eat some sour patch water melon and watch a dumb movie and that the rest of my life could be figured out later. (The Postal Service version reminds me of the drive to his bedroom and the blue walls and the bright pink Victoria’s Secrete perfume I used to wear. The Iron and Wine version reminds me of locking the bathroom door and crying when I realized I was wrong about the one thing I knew.

I remember the debate continued and I was a senior all of a sudden and had the best summer of my life. All my friends were still in the same small little place and I was still small and so were my problems and we were all only a year away from getting out and I wasn’t excited yet. I still didn’t know very much but I thought I knew so much more. I found a new boyfriend with a new little red car with an aux cord I could steal and every time we drove anywhere, just the two of us, we felt untouchable, like we were driving away from the whole rest of the world and we were probably on our way one town over to Dairy Queen or something. We drank so much coffee and he liked any version of Such Great Heights I played for him but I bet if you asked him about it now he wouldn’t remember it. I think he only liked whatever I liked, so maybe his vote doesn’t even count. I just remember playing this song and I’d picture us somewhere up high waving down at everyone like it the song but didn’t pay attention to the next line “everything looks perfect from far away”. Every time I played this song at college it didn’t sound the same. It sounded like a home that wasn’t home anymore and like little red cars and boys who thought they knew how to love me and like me thinking I knew how to love myself, like thinking I knew anything.

So I didn’t listen to either for a while but something made me add both to a playlist last summer. I played it every summer night and this time it was for a boy who didn’t have a little red car at all (he did have an aux cord). I didn’t play it with him though, I played it for him and there’s a difference. A song can remind you of a person even if they have never actually heard it. I wanted to know which version he liked better because he could always choose those sorts of things. He knew exactly what he liked if you didn’t ask him about me. I still want to know which one he would prefer even though I know he wouldn’t like either. (I don’t know that, I at least know enough now that I don’t know anything for certain). So these songs sat on that playlist and I didn’t reopen “Summer Smittin’ again until last night.

I decided to spontaneously drive back to RI after getting home that same morning just because I felt like going to the movies with the boy who’s not quite my boyfriend. I saw all these baby cows in a field and I chose the right second to leave because the sun was exploding the entire way down. I was stupid happy all of a sudden and had butterflies in stomach and they were half for this boy and half just for life. They were all because I didn’t feel stuck or small at all anymore, I felt like the farthest thing from that, “free” or something. This playlist was on and this song (both versions) played straight in a row and it didn’t mean the same things as it used to. I always envisioned “Such Great Heights” as some up high beautiful place with a boy and being so far from everyone else wishing they had what we had and they were telling us to come down and that things weren’t going to be as perfect as they seemed up there but we wouldn’t budge. But now. This second that I was driving down 95 South trying to sneak a picture of a moment (which is actually impossible) I felt like this was it. This was “Such Great Heights”. It’s being a week away from 21 and hearing a song that made you feel safe and small your sophomore and senior years of high school, and a little bit still last summer, and it’s still loving the song but in a much bigger way and being so much farther away. It’s playing it from your own aux cord in your own car and you didn’t tell anyone you were leaving or for how long and you could go anywhere you wanted to. It’s having a full tank of gas and all the things you assumed you would have be now and didn’t think would be scary to get, but they were so scary to get and you got them anyways and that makes it all even better. It doesn’t sound like being up high at the pinnacle of whatever successes I used to think I would have by now, it’s more like driving right back to where you just came from and you have so much more to accomplish but you feel on top of the world already. People aren’t telling you to get down because they don’t even get it, they have no idea where you got off to or how important it was that you did. And as far as they know, you aren’t where you should be and they want you to get back on track and they tell you to “come down now” and we laugh and stay but it’s not because “everything looks perfect from far away” it’s because we know a few things now and we know that it isn’t perfect where we are or where we are going or where we will ever be, but we know better than to hop off of the greatest heights of our lives; From the greatest mindset and moments and the greatest versions of ourselves, the ones farthest away from our past selves, even if they happened to have similar opinions on cover songs.

Such Great Heights Lyrics-The Postal Service

I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images and when
We kiss they’re perfectly aligned

And I have to speculate
That God himself did make
Us into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay

And true, it may seem like a stretch,
But its thoughts like this that catch
My troubled head when you’re away
When I am missing you to death

When you are out there on the road
For several weeks of shows
And when you scan the radio,
I hope this song will guide you home

They will see us waving from such great heights,
“Come down now,” they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
“Come down now,” but we’ll stay…

I tried my best to leave
This all on your machine
But the persistent beat it sounded thin
Upon listening

And that frankly will not fly.
You will hear the shrillest highs
And lowest lows with the windows down
When this is guiding you home

They will see us waving from such great heights,
“Come down now,” they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
“Come down now,” but we’ll stay…

They will see us waving from such great heights,
“Come down now.”



One thought on “SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS

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