It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to you directly on the page. I hope you can forgive me, I’ve spent a lot of time on Year of Mac, and I wish you could see it. I wish you could see what I’ve pulled out of your interviews and discography. I wish you could tell me if the things I am finding were there intentionally, or if you’re discovering them just as I am discovering them in real-time. More than anything, though, I wish you could see the way people speak about you as if you were still alive; as if your full-of-life-ness supersedes the way the cards were dealt. I wish we could go back to me writing about you, you reading it, and someone letting me know that you like what you see. I would trade Year of Mac for another quick DM, but that should be self-evident.
When I first started Year of Mac, I thought I would be writing to you often. Few things feel as natural as our communion, but I guess in a way I am always writing to you. I mean, I am writing about you with a fervor—the best writing of my life, if you can believe that. People are touched by what I do. I find that wild beyond words. I’m sure you’ve felt like this before. Someone at the grocery store saw me in a shirt of yours and asked if I heard about Maclib. Of course I heard about Maclib, but it was easier to just feign interest. That was the first time in my life a real person has talked to me about my writing as if I wasn’t the one writing it. Humbling isn’t the word, but for a second, I felt like you.
Every time I get an email saying Year of Mac means something to someone, I feel like you. You’ve got such a legacy to uphold, and it brings me great solace to know that I get to play a role in your legacy. But since we are here, right now, I wanted to tell you a story and thank you again for Swimming. The story goes like this: I’ve started going to bed earlier and earlier. That doesn’t sound so bad, but the story also goes like this: I’ve started wondering why I’m awake. I’ve gotten obsessive with the writing, like usual. And when I’m not writing, I don’t know who I am nor what to do with myself. I get scared. I get testy. And then I get dangerous, but as you know I’m medicated now, so no one has to worry. Least of all, me. So I’ve started going to bed early.
You must get it because of my favorite interview of yours. You know the one, Mac, where you talk about the week of outros while making Faces. It’s the one where you’re scared to leave the studio because you’re afraid you don’t know how to survive as a regular person, not making music and just taking air into your lungs for the sake of taking more air into your lungs. You get it, and I get it because I don’t know how I survive away from the page. I’m not sure if I’m doing all that good of a job. There’s a reason why I’m 30 Year of Macs in at the time of writing this. Sure, I’m overzealous, but, man, am I fucking terrified.
That’s where Swimming comes in. As I lay there in the early evening and wonder on the next word, the next sentence, the next piece to write or edit, I put on Swimming and get lost in your personal reckoning. I got some bad news the other day, but you were there with your records and life lessons, and the news didn’t feel so bad. You have always been proof to me that I can survive anything. You survived, after all. The story you tell on Swimming changes for me over time, but the kernel of truth at the heart of the thing remains the same. We don’t keep going because we have to; we keep going because we are lucky enough to be able to. We’re not swimming because we can’t float to shore, we’re swimming because we can. I mean, you’re telling me that I am lucky to be alive and living. You’re telling me I have agency. You’re making it okay.
So, as of a few days ago, I’ve been trying to sleep less and value my time more. I’ve taken up games and crafting, just these little things to do with my hands while Swimming plays. I hear the tenderness of that album while I sit there and arrange perler beads, and I feel a calmness that’s eluded me my entire life. Swimming is about agency. I get it now. Swimming is also about erecting your own peace with that newfound agency. Swimming is about being okay with the comedown and the lulls because the lulls in our life are exciting. They are the preambles for our future chapters, for our future excitement. And, too, Swimming is about becoming one with your art in a healthy way. You become awash with sound by the end of the album, but we are not worried for you. We applaud your resilience to become one with the thing you love. At least, I do.
The night after you passed away, I was talking to Yoh with Swimming playing in the background. We talked about you and we talked about getting matching tattoos. You may have left, but you brought us closer together. I remember that night so vividly because I didn’t want to go to sleep. I didn’t want the album to end. I wanted everything in its proper place, and I was waiting for the gag of it all. I believe in mystical things, and had it in my heart that at any moment you were poised to just wake up. On Swimming, you were wide awake and full of life. I thought this was an album about succumbing to depression because suffering is warm, familiar, and feel-good if you let it be. I thought wrong. Swimming is about living.
Thank you for bearing with me as I unpack this record. People, they want to make it into a break-up record, and I guess it can be. But I understand it was a preamble to the rest of your life, and you had so much music in you. There was so much more to come, but we’ll keep swimming because we can. Like I said before, I promise I am going to write my heart out for you. That goes for every piece, too, not just Year of Mac. Thank you for Swimming; thank you for listening.
I love you and I miss you. And I’m not the only one.