“just like dust we settle in this town”


Mary, Mary, quite contrary, we get bored and then get married…

Kacey Musgraves’s “Merry Go  ‘Round” lingers with me. I find myself humming this song in my office and singing it my car. Partially, it is her voice, but mostly, it is the haunting lyrics of the song that tap into my memories of life in a small Florida town, particularly the weight of expectations and desire. It is evocative of things that I remember and choose not to, of the desire to get away and to stay, of the choices we make and those we don’t, and of the possibilities we hope for and the possibilities that prove elusive. It feels at once like opportunity and expectation. It makes me nostalgic for the place where I grew up while also recognizing this history of that town. People remain living and dead, who I love and cherish, but my nostalgia appears tempered by ambivalence too. Expectations, possibility, and disappointment. The song chases me and forces me to realistically remember. Home is at once comforting and fraught, a reminder who we were, who we are, and who we might be. And these lyrics make me yearn for a return in spite of their gritty realism. They make me imagine a different life with different choices. A disquieting comfort settles over me as I sing along and remember the place and people who helped make me.


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