When a Melody Sounds Like A Memory
I’ve been listening to a bunch of Eric Church in preparation for his concert this Sunday. .. ever a student I want to make sure I’m well versed on all material before heading into the test. Only this one will be loud, and have beer, lots and lots of beer.
Anyways, I’ve loved the song “Springsteen” since I first heard it. .. because if there is one thing that is guaranteed to take me back, it’s a song.
It doesn’t matter that I now drive a bright blue minivan populated with my own offspring, when Snoop comes on, I’m turning that shit up, car-dancing, and definitely singing along. Like some sort of space time continuum, I’m transported back to my girlfriend’s basement; south Regina, two blue-eyed teenaged white girls, layering on Bonne Bell Vanilla Icing lip gloss, baby t’s and denim miniskirts, and above all,
“Sippin on Gin and Juice.. laaaid back. Got my mind on my money and my money on my mind”.
Then one of my kids pipes up,
“MOOOOOMMM, is this song ‘propriate for kids??”
And just like that, I’m snapped back to reality, and the melody fades into the background with the memories.
But it was listening to this particular song one night, driving in the country when that lyric hit me in the face with a memory.
“You looked at me, and I was done, or we were just getting started...I was so alive, never been more free. Funny how a melody, sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night"
Obviously this song was not around when I was in high school, neither was any Springsteen song for that matter, but that line kept playing over and over in my head in conjunction with one of my most favorite of memories, one that encapsulated what it felt like to be young, and free, and everything I don’t feel like these days.
The same blue-eyed bestie and I had headed out to a park, on a July Saturday night, with booze bought with money meant to be spent elsewhere, or smuggled from someone’s parents liquor cabinet (always replaced with water because that was REALLY a genius idea), or paid for by some boy who liked us. I had my typical Jungle Juice which cost exactly the same amount of money as the ‘movie’ I said I was going to, and we were sitting with boys in the park being naughty, but not REALLY naught in the grand scheme of bad things we could have been doing, teenagers, watching the storm in the distance as the lighting flashed and the thunder rumbled. Definitely the last place our parents would have wanted us to be as a violent prairie thunder storm rolled in, not to mention that fact that we were with boys in a dark and isolated place, but hey, we listened to enough Cali rap to know a thing or two about being street smart.
As the storm approached there was a crack of thunder that vibrated the earth so hard I remember how it felt in my chest, and with the roar came a downpour of rain straight out of a movie.
I remember us all beginning to run towards the cars, laughing and stumbling through the rain and the storm until someone, I can’t remember who, in fact the faces of everyone there are still fuzzy, stopped and started running back into the park.
And for a brief moment, a second, it was like someone waved a flag to my subconscious to remember this. To take it in.
Because before long we were laughing and running through the rain like the, young, wild and free beautiful creatures we were, with nowhere to be, not a worry in the world, eyes clouded with the lust and haze of a few drinks and teenage hormones. We laughed and ran and then I remember the boy with the perfect smile telling me to jump on his back as we headed back to the cars. Soaked, laughing, and now with a ripped skirt from the gymnastics performed in order to move at all in a piece of denim that short and tight, I remember memorizing the details.
It was like an older version of myself crept in and enhanced the moment for memory sake- the smell of the rain, the grass sticking to my bare feet, the laughter mixed with the thunder, and lightning momentarily illuminating faces, then trees, then the swing set, then the water running down his face as he smiles and tells you to ‘COME ON!”. And the feeling. The feeling of being exactly who I was, and the universe revelling in the moment of connectedness.
Because a part of me would indeed, go on to visit that memory often, more frequently as an exhausted mom, a stressed out wife, a grown-up who doesn’t feel so grown up some days. Because that grown woman still feels a tiny part of that girl when the right song comes on, or the rain pours down. With an unforeseen knowledge of someone living their own past life, how much it was needed to vacation back in a memory for a few minutes. To remember the essence of yourself in a world that sometimes sucks life and spirit and joy out of you without you recognizing it until you find yourself back in a memory.
And that line, the melody was the storm and the laughter, the hot July night and the look.. the look that was in fact, US just getting started.
Since this moment it’s happened more times.. not always when you’d expect it. For example, my wedding day is a blur. It’s in the most unplanned, unrehearsed prefect moments of life where these subconscious flags get staked. And for me, almost always linked to a melody, a song, is a moment intrinsically embedded into the deepest part of who I am.
So yes, sometimes it’s a country song and I’m back on a horse, checking fences as my Grandpa led me and Tigger, as the grasshoppers clicked, and the sun drenched fields swayed in the breeze. Sometimes it’s the melody of Backstreet Boys, never breaking my heart, which reminds me of the preteen girl who wanted to fall in love, who was so in love with love that she could barely stand it. Or the melody of a Cali gangster that brings out the teenage me, ironically the whitest of white girls, still boy crazy, Sun-In hair wearing teeny tiny skirt, dancing through life with a smile and a giggle.
And I know, someday down the road, which will feel like a brief moment, but will in fact be years, I will hear’ Sexy and I know It’ or ‘Happy’ and think about my three babies shaking their little selves in my living room as I laugh and dance along.
But for now, I’m going to let Songza “At a 90’s School Dance” (Much Music Video Dance Party anyone??!!?) keep this day chugging along while I get some work done, with some memories scattered in here and there. And probably chair dancing. Because… obviously.