So tonight I will be heading to the Railway Club for Hey Ocean!'s performance of their album, "It's Easier To Be Somebody Else". This is a particularly special occasion for me - like many others, this album was the soundtrack to my life during a very formative time. I first saw Hey Ocean perform at Vancouver's now-defunct Richard's on Richards. It was a good-size venue - not too big, not too small - to see some of Vancouver's best and brightest. Hey Ocean was no exception - everyone was obsessed with their brand of funky-chill introspective pop.
I love how certain albums always remind you of a certain time in your life. Back in 2009, I was living in France with a homestay family for a few months on exchange, and I was going for an early morning run in the town of Montpellier. I was making my usual rounds around town - relishing in the fact that I was starting to recognize certain shop owners opening their bakeries, news stands, etc, and that they were beginning to recognize me. I've always enjoyed the kind of traveling where you find yourself fully immersed in a new culture, and you really start to live it. Of course, I was blaring "It's Easier To Be Somebody Else" in my headphones and merrily going about my run until I ran into a man who was lying prone on the ground. The juxtaposition of the joyful music and the sad scene is something that is engrained in my memory. I called out to the man, asking him if he was okay. He was crying. Sobbing. Uncontrollably. Trying to talk through tears, he told me that his partner had left him, and that he found out, a year into this relationship, that his partner had hidden the fact that he was HIV-positive from him. He was absolutely devastated. I didn't know what to do or what to say... but I had the instinct to hold him. So I did just that - held him. He sobbed in my arms for a few minutes, and all I could muster was, "I'm sorry". I was still pretty young and it was such a strange, intimate experience to have. But this strange experience really stuck with me. I am glad I stopped and asked - not because I really did anything to "save" him, nor because I'm some kind of saint, but because I think it felt like a real...human thing to do. You know? I don't know where that man is now, but I sincerely hope he is doing alright. For a moment, like so many of us do... I think he just needed to be heard and held.
I am fully aware this doesn't really tie into Hey Ocean! at all, but, like I said, these were formative years, and this experience is one I'll remember forever - my heart that day, just a little more open than it was before.
"There is a way
Another way to go and I'll take it
A secret way
Some people know about but know one ever sees
You will find it if your heart is open
And I'm hoping it will lead you straight to me" - Hey Ocean, Alleyways