The other day I was driving home and I put on a playlist I made. As I listened, I noticed myself almost unconsciously playing a game in my head. The song would come on, and I would immediately say which part of my life the song linked me to. It’s a somewhat easy game, given the amount of places and times I’ve moved in my adult life. The songs were like portals back to those years. They brought back people, places, moments, feelings. I could literally for the duration of that song, sort of, transmute back to that period of my life. It’s strange because in the world of song transporting, it’s not like I do not remember the negative things that might have been going on around me, but the positive just overrides it. It does quite a bit to posit the idea that I firmly hold, that we will always come back to ‘miss something.’ Even at times when I could not imagine myself ever coming back to, there was a song and I’d be back there. I guess in retrospect, the song might have been the only positive. Perhaps, in that time of great despair, it was something that gave me hope or moved me to want to be in a better place. When I hear it now, it feels positive. I also think we come to miss our struggles at times, especially when they are in the past and when we’ve overcame them. They are a part of us. They are something we fought hard against and won. They come with heroes often and villains. They become the thing legends and stories are made of, and the music that played was the soundtrack. Music like all arts is so magical and powerful. The other day at work, the radio was on, and I heard the remake to the song “A Whole New World,” from Aladdin. The teens, who typically would deny liking this song, liked it. I, myself, was taken back in time. They were not born when Aladdin, the Disney cartoon version, came out, but I was their age. I went on one of my first dates to that movie. In fact, I remember my best friend and I going to the mall and picking out matching outfits to wear to the date. I sort of cringe thinking about what our dates thought when we showed up in our matching outfits for our double date to watch Aladdin. I think of how we walked probably two miles that summer night in our matching clothes. We still laugh about it today (and cringe) when we see each other. The date was laughable. It was two boys who had crushes on two girls. We sat next to each other uncomfortably through a cartoon. Sometimes, listening to my teens talk at work about their dates, I have to sort of slow down and remember what that looks like and feels like to a teen. I think most of the energy we all held was kept privately, as nervous bundles of energy, inside ourselves. Still, in my upper thirties and divorced, the song brought me back to the cheesy hope we have in our heads of what love is and what love will be like. It teleported me back to all those feelings, that were to me, new and exciting at the time. It’s nice to be able to remember how innocent you were once, what your idea of love was, to just feel for a moment those people and those places that were center stage at a certain time in your life. I have not been shy about how music led me to my love of writing. While I don’t have many poems that try to sound like songs, I do have poems created by thoughts from a line in a song, the way a melody made me feel, that zoom in a moment where a song definitely played in the background. Essentially, one of the reasons I love music and all art for that matter is because it does become this time capsule. I can remember exactly where I was when that song was important to me or when the moment made it an important part of my life. I keep books for the same reason. I remember exactly who I was when I read Ordinary People the first time and which characters at the age of seventeen I identified with. I might reread it now and I’d identify with a totally different character. I find this is happening to me with movies a lot. I used to identify with the teenager who is struggling to find their way in this world and now I find myself tearing up at the dad trying his hardest to identify with this strange being that has no interest in identifying with him, whom he loves so deeply. I don’t even have kids, but I identify with it. Music is definitely the greatest medium for me in this way. A song just takes me back immediately. The other day, as I was flipping through the songs, I came to a track that really took me back. I was living in CO in my cabin. I had just had a major breakup with my serious girlfriend. My friend and I got tickets to see a favorite artist in Boulder. It was fall, and it was like the perfect fall evening. The concert was right on the UC Boulder Campus and we were several years out of school. The combination of the late fall evening, which just brings up a list of imagery in my head, and being on this campus, which especially in early fall and just being out of college and new to the real world, just brought on a magical atmosphere to the show. We walked around enjoying the evening, watching kids hurray to their night class or laying in the grass enjoying the fall evening. It set the stage for an amazing show. The opener was a singer/songwriter I was familiar with and had liked a few of her songs, but she came out and was breathtaking. She is, a gorgeous girl. Her voice was ethereal. The theatre was almost hypnotized by her presence. She sang and played beautifully and then she just stopped after one song and as casual as can be goes, “Hey Boulder, I love your mountains.” There was nothing more. It was just a strange, honest comment, but coming from her, it almost felt like a strange pick up line. After her set, my friend and I both talked about how she just sort of entranced us. We also both came back to the comment. To this day, we say it to each other and laugh. I went home to the cabin (which was pretty remote). I had just gone through this breakup, and I was not ready to date again. At night, I’d put my speakers next to my bed and put her music on and it felt like she was there singing to me. For a while, she was the make believe girlfriend I needed until I was ready to put myself out there again. At the time, I was writing a collection of poems that were all based on my experiences living in the cabin. I had this fantasy frequently that I would go outside in the middle of the night and she would be out there looking up at the stars and the mountain ranges in the distance and all she would say to me was, “I like your mountains,” then she’d put her head on my shoulder or grab my hand and we’d just stare at the mountain ranges in the distance. I wrote the following poem as a result.
There is a blue dressed damsel walking
Through a yellow autumn that explains Colorado.
She almost dances under pine bough’s
Bound trunks. A wind plays through the long pine needles above.
Softly, the tempo of the night is created.
I watch and wonder if trees feel human’s expectations. She
Seems to know even trees are not static,
Not the same today as they were yesterday. Weather
Is a blood that seems pumped through trees,
Changing their energy and movement. The sway
Of her blue dress, the pines, the Aspens
All bring this sense of synchronicity, to my yard,
My heart. I’m not sure what I’m looking for,
Yet the voiceless trees and watching her together whisper,
This is it………………….
It’s inevitable, the earth has changed all its colors,
The tone of its air, its scent. It shows it understands,
The time has come to let go. The calm speculates.
As I notice how well the earth does at holding things,
Change, cooler air, so much color, I stroke my bare arms,
Imagine what they could lift if my muscles were toned
To hold different textures, bodies, nights.
I love your mountains, the blue dressed woman
Introduces herself. I smile, stare up at the mountains,
Newly capped, as defensive half truths creep and carve,
Glacially bashing their way through my stoic body.
Her beauty is a fall evening, I could walk barefoot in forever.
It is a meteor shower, rising me from bed for weeks,
Out of bed, into the cooling Colorado nights. For weeks,
I just stare up at the mountains obtaining understanding of how
I love something that is so distant from me, yet
Arguably, so present that it wakes me lonely & heartbroken
And fills me so completely in one breathtaking glance,
Hope so distant, yet so clearly visible.