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?
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