[encore] 654: In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli)

[encore] 654: In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli)

[encore] 654: In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli)

This episode was originally released on April 15, 2022.


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I’ve always loved those late night discussions about the afterlife where we imagine reuniting all our favorite people, all our favorite things. Your beloved childhood dog comes running through the green fields, the sweetest grandfather arrives feeling no pain at all. There’s got to be friends in the afterlife. And chocolate. And poems.

Today’s philosophical poem imagines that kind of afterlife. I love this poem because it makes me viscerally feel what it might be like to have all my loved ones reunited once again.

In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli)
by Jason Schneiderman

The afterlife is an infinity of custom shelving, where everything 
you have ever loved has a perfect place, including things
that don’t fit on shelves, like the weeping willow from
your parents’ backyard, or an old boyfriend, exactly as he was
in your second year of college, or an aria you love, but without
the rest of the opera you don’t particularly care for.
My favorite joke: Q: You know who dies? A: Everyone!
Because it’s true. But ask any doctor and they’ll say that
prolonging a life is saving a life. Ask anyone who survives
their surgeries, and they’ll say yes, to keep living is to be saved.
I do think there’s a statute of limitations on grief, like, certainly,
how someone died can be sad forever, but who can be sad
simply about the fact that Shakespeare, say, is dead, or Sappho,
or Judy Garland, or Rumi. There’s a Twitter account called
LizaMinnelliOutlives, which put into the world a set of thoughts
I was having privately, but the Twitter account is kinder than
I had been, tweeting things like “Liza Minnelli has outlived
the National Rifle Association which has filed for bankruptcy”
and “Liza Minnelli has outlived Armie Hammer’s career” to take
the sting out of the really painful ones, like “Liza Minnelli
has outlived Jessica Walter,” or “Liza Minnelli has outlived
George Michael” or “Liza Minnelli has outlived Prince.”
In my own afterlife, the custom shelves are full of Liza Minnellis—
Liza in Cabaret, Liza in Arrested Development, Liza singing
“Steam Heat” on The Judy Garland Christmas Special, Liza
on the Muppet Show, Liza in Liza’s at the Palace, and because this is heaven,
Liza won’t even know she’s in my hall of loved objects,
just as I won’t know that my fandom has been placed on her shelf
for when Liza Minnelli has outlived Jason Schneiderman,
waiting for Liza Minnelli when Liza Minnelli has outlived
Liza Minnelli, which is what fame is, and what fame is not,
and if Jason Schneiderman outlives Jason Schneiderman,
and your love of this poem waits for me on one of my shelves,
and will keep me company for eternity, thank you for that.
I promise to cherish your love in that well-lit infinity of forever.
In one theory of the mind, the psyche is just a grab bag of lost objects,
our wholeness lost when we leave the womb, when we discover
our own body, and so on and so on, our wholeness lost and lost and lost,
as we find ourselves smaller and smaller, which is why heaven
is an endless, cozy warehouse, where nothing you loved is gone,
where you are whole because you get everything back, and by everything,
I mean you.

"In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli)" by Jason Schneiderman. Used by permission of the poet.