I suppose there are people in the world who don’t associate every moment of their lives with certain songs. Maybe they don’t remember their dad’s voice singing along to “Carolina in my Mind” on a family road trip when they were eight.Perhaps they don’t remember putting Nobody’s Crying” on repeat on Christmas Eve, two weeks before their grandmother died.Maybe they don’t have a memory of an ex-boyfriend singing “Thunder Road” regularly before they went to sleep.
Maybe other people don’t have those kinds of memories. But I do. Music pervades every crevice of my life; it’s etched in most moments I remember.
There are a lot of songs I keep to myself now. I won’t listen to them around other people. Not because I always have an overwhelmingly emotional reaction to each of them – but because they’re mine.
Well, those memories are, at least. And sometimes I just get a little selfish.
Because in my mind no one else’s memory of “Thunder Road” compares in any way with mine. I heard it several times a week for years – often times my heart so full of love for each and everyone one of those moments I had no idea how life could get any better. It has – but I certainly didn’t know that. And those words encompass some part of that feeling. That it’s as good as it’s going to ever get – the joy that comes with feeling like you are exactly where you are meant to be.
I also remember the song I wrote on the back of his Christmas present one year. And the one I framed.
So I won’t listen to any of them with anyone else around.
I still can’t listen to “Nobody’s Crying” often – I so fully remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach that said the most important person in my life was soon not going to be around to hug. She wouldn’t ever tell me to chase my dreams or follow my heart again. She wouldn’t tell me stories about her grandpa’s farm and Sunday dinners with potlucks and chicken necks. She wouldn’t ever tell me she loved me again. I remember that paralyzing grief – and how I couldn’t listen to any other words but those. I probably listened to that song 20 times that night. I sat on my floor and stared at the wall. And I listened.
I listened to Stephen Kellogg’s “See You Later, See You Soon” when I found out she passed away. Oddly enough, I’m filled with joy every time I hear it. Because I know I will, I suppose.
I remember a random Tuesday listening to Phil Collins in my mom’s car. Because my parents were all about Genesis when I was growing up. I remember my dad singing along to pretty much anything you would let him – but specifically James Taylor.
There are countless other examples. Vivid examples of moments I’ll never be able to erase, and don’t really want to share.
I spend time building a mental playlists of sorts. Of songs that are taken. I play it sometimes when I’m feeling lonely. Because for all of those memories – for all that may have happened since – those words feel cozy. They feel warm. Like I belong.
I suppose not everyone remembers moments like that. Maybe their memories are separate. But I just can’t even imagine it.