Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, September 19, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Auditory Memory


I picked up my violin over the weekend. It's been months and months since I've played, which is part of a vicious cycle where I say to myself, "Argh, it's been so long since I've played, my pegs are going to be all stiff and out of whack and it's going to sound terrible." And then once I finally do pick it up, it takes all of 5 minutes to wrestle with ornery pegs and all of 10 minutes to warm back up and get my finger muscle memory going, and I always think, "Why don't I do this more often?"

It's a mystery of time, and how it slips through my fingers, why I don't do this more often.

But, on Saturday evening I picked it up and played a few pieces -- "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (a great warm-the-fingers-and-tone-back-up Bach piece), Some short Handel pieces, and the first violin part to the Double Concerto for Two Violins by Bach (I really, really like playing Bach), which could have gone better but was okay, all things considered.

And then the next piece on my stand was a hymn, "In The Garden."

The last time I played this in public was my grandmother's funeral. I cannot play this piece and NOT see my grandmother, and NOT feel the loss that is her absence. It sounds like something you would hear on the sinking Titanic. It's beautiful, and haunting, and never fails to make me cry.

Auditory memory is like that. Songs somehow tie themselves inexorably to a particular moment in your life and it's hard if not impossible to separate them out.

"In the Garden," "Be Thou My Vision," and "Amazing Grace" are always tied to my Grandma Rosemary. "Amazing Grace" is actually also tied to my grandfather who died of cancer years ago, so that's a double whammy. Rare that I can play or hear that one without dissolving into tears.

The Elvis Christmas album "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" will always, always remind me of December 17th, 2006, when I was innocently baking Christmas cookies when a friend shared with me the devastating (at the time) news that my husband (at the time) had been cheating on me quite voraciously with not one but two people. Luckily, that day is also what I look back on as my Independence Day, and so Elvis holiday tunes are not ruined for me. But when I hear it for the first time in the season, I always am transported back to that day, and I feel the wrenching loss the old me felt in that moment, and the freedom to live a gorgeously different life that the new me knows now was given at the very same time.

"The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + The Machine will always, always remind me of a day years ago where I got the call that I was not pregnant, AGAIN, and my IVF tally was far more failure than success of any kind. Bryce had to work for several hours more and so a friend came over to drink with me and console me until he took over and she put that song on as an anthem that things would get better. I can't hear it without hearing my tipsy, devastated voice wail, "But what if my dog days are JUST BEGINNING? What if it NEVER gets better?" Cue the champagne in cans and sense of deja vu for the next couple of years.

"Rings" by Leo Kottke is a song that I will probably never hear randomly in public, but I put it into our home music library player fairly regularly. It's my wedding song with Bryce and we love it even though Leo Kottke himself said in a concert that we went to here in town that although people tend to use it as a wedding song, in his opinion it is the WORST wedding song ever. We love it because it's ours, and it's quirky and a little messy around the edges and that works for us. I remember dancing in our living room, cleared of furniture because it was raining on Halloween 2009, and getting dipped when I wasn't ready and nearly dumping it, and laughing it off with more champagne and the glow of a moment that was beautiful and not well choreographed and it still makes me so, so happy, all these nearly 7 years later, because it was perfect and imperfect all at once, joyous and yet I nearly fell on my ass, and doesn't that just tell the most beautiful love story? He caught me, and I didn't actually fall all the way, and we held each other up as we laughed and laughed. It's pretty much how we live our life today and survive all those messy moments that have been foisted upon us.

Kind of a weird video, but you get the idea of the song.

So what's a song that means something to you? Where does your auditory memory take you? 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays, perhaps ones that are more micro than this poser? Go here and enjoy! 

34 comments:

  1. This is a great post and a great topic! I have a few songs that stick with me. "Somewhere over the Rainbow'" makes me cry as it was played a Tim Russert's funeral and when the church service ended, there was a rainbow (not that I actually attended, I saw the coverage on MSNBC) I adored Tim and haven't watched Meet the Press since he died. John Lennon's 'Imagine' always gets me, not only for the powerful lyrics, but also for one particular meomory. The day after a BFN with the last embryo from our first IVF cycle, I was trying to keep myself together while shopping at the Farmer's Market and the musician played that song. As soon as I heard the first few lines, I lost it and I started crying while choosing asparagus. I felt the line "you may say I'm a dreamer" really spoke to my situation, although I felt guilty comparing my fertility struggles to the quest for world peace.

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    1. "Imagine" totally makes me tear up...whether or not originally it was about world peace I think it can still be something powerful for imagining your dream happening, without taking anything away from world peace! :) "What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow" does it for me, too. Once I heard my best friend's 6-year-old-at-the-time sing it and when it got to "I hear babies cry" I had tears just pouring down my face. That is just magical about the rainbow after the funeral for Tim Russert (I didn't know him even through the TV, but that sounds so special).

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  2. Well, right off the top of my head, "Stay" by Rihanna was the song I associated with the loss of my first baby, Adam. So now whenever I hear it, it automatically brings me back to that day. It's amazing how powerful some songs can be.

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    1. Oh, that's heart wrenching. Thank you for sharing that memory.

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  3. I discovered Brad Paisley's "He Didn't Have To Be" somewhere around 2000. I hear that song and think about Brady and, well, I must be allergic to that song--it makes my eyes water!

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    1. Watery eye songs are the best! THank you for sharing yours.

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  4. Some songs are for a situation. Like there is a Hindi song from a popular Bollywood movie which I associate with my dating days with VT. For some reason, when I hear that song now, I think of how we were 10 years ago, those little conversations when we wanted to be our best selves. Know what i mean? :)
    Loved your post. Made me think of those days.

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    1. That's the best! I'm glad I provided a little time machine to those early days through musical memory.

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  5. Interesting that you were able to pick up your violin this weekend. Yesterday I played hammered dulcimer for afternoon chapel service at the divinity school I attend. It was so hard to tune it up and begin practicing the hymn improv that I would play as a prelude and postlude for the service that my class, "Celebrating Aging in Society," was to present. Of course, my improv centered around "Amazing Grace" and "Be Thou My Vision." We had just discussed hymn that seniors love in class, and "In the Garden" was right up there. These songs will forever invoke for me not only the memory of my mother, but also the deep tenderness I felt as you and I played them on violin and piano for her memorial services. What a gift. Thank you.

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    1. Oh, thanks, Mom. What a beautiful, touching comment. We were sort of in sync these past few days. "In the Garden" is such a beautiful song that I didn't know at all until Grandma introduced it to me.

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  6. Jess, dear Jess...thank you so much for sharing your music memories. I'm in tune with you--songs are pungent links to life occasions...

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  7. Awesome post. I'm glad you enjoyed playing your violin: I know well that feeling of "but I've procrastinated so long it will sound terrible" and then procrastinating more. Your wedding song sounds cool; I'll have to listen to it when I have time to appreciate. We were supposed to jive to Sing Sing Sing for our "first dance", but when I broke my foot two weeks before the wedding we thought it would be too hard to dance to a fast song, so the bandleader chose a ballad. It was a lovely song but not one we had a connection to. The dance went very well, though it felt so long, dancing on one foot. But later in the evening, the band played "Sweet Home Alabama" and I have this memory of my stepmother in law just giving 'er. So every time I hear "Sweet Home Alabama" (which is almost always in my husband's car when we're together) I think of our wedding and it makes me smile.

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    1. Oh, what a beautiful wedding story! I love, love, love stories like this that are a little messy around the edges. I love songs that bring you to a happy memory.

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  8. Ah, great post. So true! A lot of the 80s songs remind me of my youth full of dancing and paying rapt attention to music. Walking on Sunshine and Cruel Summer, Rio by Duran, Duran; that sort of thing. Pink's Who Knew never fails to wreck me because I lost my dog and one close friend, both to cancer in the space of a year. You Are My Destiny by Lionel Ritchie and Etta James' At Last make me think of the being crazy in love and my mum sang At Last at our wedding. Oh, boy, I could go on and on. Thanks. I think I'm going to go listen to my happy songs today. Thanks for sharing your memories. The songs were lovely. Good for you for picking up the violin. (I took viola for 6 years when I was in school.:))

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    1. Thank you! Oh, your list brought me back, too. I feel like Cruel Summer reminds me of "The Karate Kid," the first one with Ralph Macchio. I'm glad to have reminded you of your happy songs! And yeah...I need to violin more often so I'm sure not to lose anything. Been playing for 31 years, mostly for myself for the past 15 or so. Viola! THat's a tough one...you get your own clef! I have so much respect for violists.

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  9. I love that you played violin at your Grandmother's service, although I can imagine how hard that must have been, and also to hear those songs now.
    On a light note, "Linger" by the Cranberries brings to mind the time I was in the car with a guy friend I had a huge crush on, and that song came on, as he got out and walked away to go find the girl that he had a crush on...Uuuugh.
    And since I was raised Catholic and going to church every Sunday, most of the hymns remind me of my dad. I end up crying in church a lot because the presence of my dad just floods me.
    I love the story about dancing at your wedding. That is such a great story!!

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    1. Yeah, my cousin came up to me after and said, "I think you must be able to disassociate in order to do that." It was hard, but I loved playing for her so it was also easy, if that makes sense. OUCH to the Cranberries song! Classic young love gone awry moment. Hymns are funny, right? I have so many that I remember from my days in the Episcopal church, and I'll hear them in church bells and they just come back. I can see how they would have that emotional tie for you. Thanks for sharing your songs!

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  10. This is a wonderful idea for a blog post - I may have to steal it at some point. :)

    The first song that popped into my head with a strong auditory memory (at least, one that doesn't make my eyes water - have an eye doc appointment soon, so I'm trying to behave), is "Touch of Grey" by the Grateful Dead. I hadn't really listened to many of their songs before meeting my hubby, but shortly after we got together, he bought the CD and it was in frequent rotation during the 3 months in our first apartment. Every time I hear it, I'm right back in that tiny studio, and I can't help but smile.

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    1. I'm glad you like it! Oh, "Touch of Grey" is a great song. I'm so glad it brings you back to happy early memories. That's the best. Bryce made me an Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong cd when we were first dating, and so that combo brings me to our early days, too. Smiles all around!

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  11. I love this. Mine is Rene and Georgette Magritte After the War by Paul Simon. It reminds me of dancing slowly with Josh.

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    1. Holy hell, WE WERE JUST LISTENING TO THAT SONG Saturday night! No joke, Bryce has this giant multi-cd set of everything Paul Simon and when that song came on he was like, "God I always forget how much I love this song." It's a beautiful song, and now I can see you slow dancing with Josh in the dark to it. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. You know, it's the same with me and my flute (minus the pegs). Always feels so good to return. I would love to have heard you play.

    I wrote once about my TTC song. Anytime I hear the Garden of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar, I'm transported back to my tortured TTC days. http://lavenderluz.com/2007/06/ttc-songs-my-battle-of-will-with-god-2.html

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    1. Oh, flute! I love flute. Flute and violin go very well together... :)
      Oh, I could totally see "I Only Want To Say" being a powerful ballad for the ttc times. I was confused at first because I get Godspell and Jesus CHrist Superstar confused sometimes, but am really only familiar with Godspell. Oooh, chills.

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  13. This made me smile. There are so many songs that mark different transition periods in my life. Patty Griffin's "When it don't come easy," Valerie June's "Twine and Twisted" and "Somebody to love," Charlotte Martin's "Veins" "Stromata" and "Redeemed" and so on. Music brings a soundtrack to those moments.

    Thank you for that reminder.

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    1. Oh, fabulous songs. You have excellent musical tastes! I love Patty Griffin in particular. So funny when you realize your life has a soundtrack, right?

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  14. Oh my goodness, there are so many songs that immediately bring memories of certain people and places and events to my mind. One that popped into my head is "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. A good friend I made at residence in first-year university loved to sail, & signed my yearbook with a little drawing of a sailboat beside her name. She never came back the next year -- she died from encephalitis over the summer -- a really freaky thing. Everyone was completely stunned when we heard the news. She was 19 years old, and I think of her every time I hear that song played. I actually Googled her name once, just for the heck of it, and I was surprised when I got a few hits. Her family sponsors an annual regatta race in her name, as well as a community award for young women in her hometown. I am glad she has not been forgotten.

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    1. Oh wow...what a heartbreaking and uplifting story. That would just dissolve me into tears every time I heard "Sailing." I'm so glad her memory wasn't left behind, by her family or by you. What a sad yet beautiful story.

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  15. What a great thing to write about. So many memories attached to songs (and even sounds). I was glad when the Lion King brought back the Tokens' song: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" because it's one of the first songs I remember. My friend Susie played it all the time when we were about 4 & we played in her basement. I love when PBS has all of the old bands and they show the audience. You can just tell that everyone looks 50, 60, or 70 but is reliving their teens right then in that concert hall. xo

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  16. So many tunes. Since my mother's death 3 years ago I have heard everything since with a different ear. Two of the many (from before and after) that never fail to transport me to a time and place: Carol King's "I Feel The Earth Move" and Zero 7's "Destiny". The time and place varys depending on where I am in my head when I hear them but away I go.

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    1. Interesting how events can change how you hear things. Thank you for sharing your songs connected to memories.

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  17. I don't generally listen to "Deep As You Go" by The October Project. It immediately takes me back to a very, very difficult time. But I LOVE listening to "Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd. When I was really having fun with ice skating as a child, and listening to this song at the same time, I felt like I was completely free. :) Music is awesome.

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  18. Such a good post! Yes, music has such a powerful connection to memories. I've written about some of them on my blog. The most powerful one that comes to mind is about my old wedding ring. http://hopefloatsamongthecherryblossoms.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-do-i-hold-on-what-am-i-holding-onto.html

    I'm glad Elvis is not ruined for you. Oh so terrible to have something that snaps you back to that moment when you found out your ex was cheating on you. Awful, awful! Ugh, the moment I found out that my ex was cheating on me is so sharply engrained in my brain. I'm sorry you had to experience that, as well.

    "Dog Days Are Over" reminds me of grad school and long runs outside. It brings me strength and confidence. I'm sorry it brings you sadness and reminds you of sad memories.

    Love your wedding song! It seems so you and Bryce. As it was playing, I reread the part about the two of you dancing and pictured it in my mind. Lovely memory!

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