Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
and while she looks so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles
Do you know that song? You know how you can hear just the words “this is a story” and you can immediately connect the lyrics and sing the whole song 500 times in your head (or out loud) after that? And then your husband (or boss, or teacher, or friend) says “AS I WAS SAYING this is a story about cattle futures and the stock market . . . ” Or, actually, my husband or boss or teacher (if I had a teacher) would never say that. Maybe “. . . about Edward Gorey” or “. . . about intellectual property, counterfeit product sales online and their crossover into phishing fraud.” Or something like that. Anyway – I LOVE THAT.
I find great comfort in the familiar. It’s soothing to me to hear a song I know and love. The cadence, the words, they all flow through my mind effortlessly and, if I love the song, it makes me happy. Like a hug (because hugs make you happy. Unless your heart is cold, black and shriveled up). The same with my favorite old tv shows or the same books I have thumbed through a dozen times or more. The characters are like visiting with old friends and the familiar words are like a salve to my metaphorical open wounds.
On a recent business trip I had to figure out a book to take with me.
(Yes, technologically adept as I like to consider myself I do still have an overwhelming affinity for actual books. I like to feel them in my hands. I like to dog-ear the corners. I fear the term “dog-ear” will go out of fashion in 2.5 seconds due to all the electronics permeating our society. I’m so conflicted).
I have no less than 7 books on my bedside table that I have barely started or not cracked at all, but when I turned to grab one none appealed. Why? Well, there’s a lot of newness in my work life and I just couldn’t stand the idea of embarking on a new journey with a new author and a new story to work through in my already clouded and over-taxed head.
What if I didn’t like it 30 pages in? What if it was sad and depressing? What if it didn’t hug my soul like a tried and true good book can do?
So I chose an old favorite. Through 4 “please watch the safety demonstration in the event of an emergency landing” monologues while “all electronic equipment is switched off” I plowed through my old favorite, smiling at the words, remembering the characters. I found myself immersed, once again, entirely in the movie in my head – how Amelia’s jetty black hair looked (via a bottle, shhh), her blushing indulgence to femininity in her crimson gowns and fancy undergarments, and her painful need to be right and strong ,and her huge heart and conflicted morality. Ahhhh. There is nothing like catching up with old friends on long plane rides.
Or is it catching up with yourself? I have a theory (supported by nothing except my second Diet Pepsi tonight) that when we connect with something from the past – a book, a movie, a song, even a fragrance – it can take you back to the old YOU. The person you were then, when you first loved it, and it can feel like a comfort because it makes you feel like, or connect with – consciously or not – the old you. That old friend that you knew better than anyone, foibles and all, before you went through the experiences that makes you the YOU of today.
Over the summer I made several long car trips by myself (or with my children, but with THEIR electronic equipment I may as well have been by myself) and I had this odd thing happen. On one trip I was in the middle of the Oregon desert, the boys had their headphones on and I resorted to mindlessly hitting “seek” in hopes of finding something interesting. There were 3 radio stations that came in; one was political news (not on your life), the other was in Spanish (and that gets old when you don’t speak it), and the third . . . just happened to be playing a country song I LOVED when I was in high school (and filled with high school angst, I might add). I found myself singing the words before I could even remember the name of the song or who sang it. I just knew that I knew the words and as I sang each verse and got closer to the chorus I remembered the full song and . . . tears. No kidding. Tears. Because that song comforted me when I was a teen and broken-hearted and here I was, so many years later, and BAM! It pulled at my heart and I was in tears. I don’t remember the who, what or why of that broken-heart – I just remember the emotion the song conveyed all those years ago.
It’s like that movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Sleepless in Seattle? And she’s in the car driving and listening to him on the radio, in a bit of a trance, and he just says something that clicks with her heart (something her mother had said, about love & magic) and she’s crying. Just like that. Those things they reverberate in your soul.
Or is that just me? Bah. Maybe. But that’s okay. I can own it.
So – if you find me listening to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music in my headphones please don’t mock because I’m probably a major stressball and I’m just reverting to my childhood happy place as a coping mechanism. Back when my mom and I used to pop popcorn and watch this movie every year around the holidays when it came on tv and I felt loved and when I watched Julie Andrews sing and I could breathe and I knew ALL THINGS IN LIFE WERE POSSIBLE.
Ahhh. Sigh. Breathe. Repeat.
Mucho amor, mes amis!
(No, I don’t speak Spanish. Or French. It’s Frenish. Just go with it).