I need to listen to more music. I do. I’m not talking about background noise that sounds pretty–notes arranged in a certain way to accompany my cereal. I mean listen as a stand-alone activity worthy of its own stand-alone moment.
I’ll repeat if for the ones with AirPods in their ears (three fingers pointing back at me): listening to music is an activity. Full stop in the UK; period for those in North America (Canadian friends, you can inform me of your preference; Australian, Belgian, South Africa, NZ, the Caribbean…cripes I can’t mention everyone so you’ll have to insert your location and choice of what you call that “.” dot which ends sentences or I’ll never get to my point…)
“Hey, Duz–what are you doing up there?!” My mom, the late, great, Que linda Linda used to ask.
“Listening to muuuusic–leave me alone!” Said me…although I never said the “leave me alone” part. I was an angsty teenager, but not an angry one.
And I was–listening to music. Ok, ok…and often doing my homework at the same time. Stop me if I’ve told you this before, but I always say the reasons I kept my nose clean as a kid were twofold: my best friend was Mormon and I spent most of my free time upstairs in my room listening to Nirvana while doing my extra credit homework (whilst for the Brits, fill-in-the-blank for the rest). It was my favorite thing to do–a thing of exploration and commitment–the saving up for a tape or a CD; the trips to the music/video/electronic catch-all store; the 3-hour drive to the real music store, Rockin’ Rudy’s, in the “nearby-for-Montana” college town.
I have said this before and I will say it again: all the best memories are worth repeating, which is the closest thing we have so far to reliving. And I like to relive…some things.
I like to relive my musical memories.
Listening to music stirs up the full spectrum of emotions. Some sad, some wistful, some happy, some straight-up gleeful–but never neutral. I can’t feel neutral about music.
If you’re brave enough to see me angry, put on that Mariah Christmas song…you know the one and don’t make me link it…I know it’s the world’s most popular song, but I just can’t.
Most moments in my life are connected to specific songs or types of songs or songs made up in my head in the moment. It’s always been about the music.
Looking at the date today, *January 14th, however, I am reminded not of songs but of events–upcoming ones, in this case. The first, my birthday–January 24th. (I know, I know…I’ve told you before–but seriously, send gold).
The second is the week later–January 31st, when he died. Yep–that he. The one I called Dan and sometimes, but only when I had to explain our relationship to an official-type human or on a form, I also called “husband.”
How do you explain a relationship with a two-syllable word…?
Listening to music today, and noticing the date unearthed the memory of when I came home and Dan had organized our CDs. Take your AirPods out for this part: he had organized our CDs alphabetically in the same CD binder! I know, I know…you are now Breathless after reading this, but it happened.
I remember the confused look on his face (if you lived with me, your face would look like this often, too) as I ranted and raved, “You can’t COMBINE them!” I meant this, too. In the deepest, marrowy-est level of my extra-credit listening musical bones, these CDs were mine. It felt like a feminist act. Sure, I’d share a life and a last name and a couch and a blender, but a CD Binder? That was an organizational bridge too far.
As happened often over our nearly 12 years together, Dan’s confused expression melted into acceptance–or, well, resignation. Probably resignation. The CDs were liberated from their combined alphabetical organization and placed into separate binders once again. Luna was no longer made to occupy the same sleeve as Led Zeppelin; Bjork bought her freedom from Bach. Harmony was restored to our mostly harmonious elf-sized apartment-dwelling life.
Harmony and homeostasis, our status-quo.
The sky of daytime dies away
10 more days and I’ll remember that day, the one when I turned 30 and didn’t care.
And all the earthly things, they stop to play
Everything stopped one week later, and I cared.
For we are all breathless without you
That last breath left us this way.
I listen to my juddering bones
And the blood in my veins, the wind in my lungs
And I am breathless without you
Still your hands and still your heart
For still your face comes shining through
And all the morning glows anew
Still your soul and still your mind
For still the fire of our love is true
And I am breathless without you
They were just CDs combined in a case. I’d have left them there if you could be here.
Breathless, coming up for air; listening to music without a care…
*obviously this is a posthumous post, but hey! I couldn’t change that part…it was sorta key.