Tuesday, December 15, 2015

And Suddenly, I'm Somewhen Else

Looking down at my tiny hands, the sun beating down on my back, the green grass a cool contrast on my bare feet to the hot blacktop a few feet away.  Fruit trees everywhere - I've been up in their boughs, my face smeared with peaches, plums, apricots and cherries, a halfhearted breeze briefly lifting my hair out of my eyes.

Friends everywhere.

The world is a different place when you're five.

I grew up in the desert at the base of the Rocky Mountain range, and I never remember those easy days so clearly as when I catch the familiar refrains of the songs that used to play as I drove with my mom in our station wagon down to the bank, where I'd be rewarded for my patience with a cherry red sucker or a snow cone.

Music transports you in the same way that smells do, catapulting you from the here and now to a different place entirely.

These are the songs that transform my reality, however briefly.

I know.  The Neil Diamond piece in the list above is an unusual choice - it isn't one of his better known songs.

But I remember seeing my little feet as I squatted against the wall next to a little record player that my dad had given me.  It was made of grey plastic with black rubber turntables and this little record would be on it, with its blue sleeve rested carefully next to me as I listened to this song over and over again.

It reached me.

The words made complete sense to how I felt.  My dad was my special friend and my parents had split up and I couldn't see him anymore and these words articulated perfectly how I felt, the words that I felt but that the grown ups refused to hear from me:

Come back again.
I want you to stay next time.
Cause sometimes the world ain't kind
When people get lost like you and me
I just made a friend.
A friend is someone you need.

But now that he had to go away,
I still feel the words that he might say:

Turn on your heartlight.

And I felt that my heartlight was that special place in my heart that nobody could find but me, where nobody could come to take my dad away.

And in the blistering rhetoric that accompanies divorces, it was this hidden inner mutiny that gave me strength and refined and shaped me.

I saw through the lies.

This was the reason I've never had a problem not following the crowd, the reason I've been willing to stand against the tide, to do what I felt was right, the reason I was successful.  And the seeds of this understanding were there in that song at that moment.

I have a special respect for those who have the ability to distil an experience into a piece of compelling poetry set to music, transcending spoken language and communicating in an unique way to all cultures across the world, despite gaps in age, gender, race, or whatever else we think divides us.

I wish I could do it.



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