by Rebecca Bernard

Sometimes I listen to music. It is an oftentimes thing. This act, the listening to music, is a thing that many people do. In the past week, on Tuesday, I saw a singer perform. It was a thing that I had been anticipating a good deal. Only, in the days before the show itself, the anticipation stopped. It ceased and there was instead something of a feeling of dread or anxiety. This feeling or intuition was not misplaced. I do not believe the show was something that I could have enjoyed only this realization came latent. It was during the first chords of the first song that I realized I wasn’t actually there.

I am currently re-reading a text that is a favorite of mine, The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. I am thinking about certification. Certification occurs when an individual sees his or her place of living portrayed in a film or on television. I have twice lived in places that were certified. Once in New York, and then again, here in Nashville. At the time, I am not sure that this led to any greater feeling or sense of awareness. The more I think about certification, lately, the more it starts to make sense to me. In Percy’s essay, “The Loss of the Creature,” he describes how it is almost impossible to see the Grand Canyon if one approaches it in the traditional ways. However, if one were to stumble upon it—the experience and vision would truly have the potential to be their own. Seeing a place that we see everyday is impossible, but perhaps the act of seeing a place we know from the perspective of a film makes it knowable to us anew.

I was never going to be able to see Jeff Mangum. The levels of premeditation, the fandom, the traveling—it all led to an experience steeped in the inauthentic. I have more of a chance of seeing him alone in my car on a drive to anywhere than I did that night. And in a way, this is the best part. Authentic experience is everywhere. Waiting. So the work to be done is my own. Here’s to listening.

-Rebecca Bernard, Curb Creative Writing Fellow