The song “No Children” by the Mountain Goats came out in 2002, but I didn’t need it then.
The song went viral on TikTok in 2022, when a lot of people seemed to need it, twenty years later. As the wave of pandemic divorces broke, a lot of us needed a song with a chorus that goes and I hope you die/I hope we both die.
I didn’t hope that we both died when I left, but I was so angry that it seemed like the thing to scream-sing along with. I was so upset that this was how the story ended that I could never get past the lines I am drowning/there is no sign of land/you are coming down with me/hand in unlovable hand without crying.
It’s been more than a year since I left. We have no children, but we still had a lot between us. I have felt every stripe of pity and regret and love and rage in that time. We gave each other space and support. We still do.
I saw The Mountain Goats live in Albany last week. They played “No Children” close to the end of the night, and I thought those feelings might rise again, borne on the warm air of the crowd.
But what came was relief that I don’t feel that way anymore. I felt free. I held the hand of someone I love and I laughed and laughed through chorus, through the verse that used to take my breath away.
A year is a long time.
The song “No Children” by The Mountain Goats is still being scream-sung by audiences on their tour, now, in 2023. I don’t need it anymore.