Monday, October 18, 2010

On the music of motherhood

The drive home from a weekend in the Smokey Mountains yesterday was ideal: an empty blue bowl of sky, windows full of wind, an unspooling ribbon of road ahead of us. D was in the backseat, playing Kung Fu Panda on his V-Tech handheld, singing along to "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon when the thought struck me that he will recall moments like this - cool air, car packed with Lightning McQueen and black leather overnight bags, a tattered turquoise tote brimming with books, folders, and my little laptop - and remember music by Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam and Eminem and associate that music with me the way I hear the Mamas and the Papas, Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Charlie Pride and think of my childhood, my father; I hear Elvis and immediately remember my mother's brown curls (only later did they brighten to blonde) and hear her singing "Blue Christmas" in a high warble as the days slid toward Christmas.

Music draws memory, tapping the surface of our mind and pulling up thoughts like sunken debris from the sandy floor of the sea, sometimes glittering and bright, sometimes crusted and closed with age and denial.

I hope the memories, the round full thoughts of me, my son has when he hears a certain "oldie" when he's a young man are bright, whole, and fill him with love and longing the way a string of excellent lyrics can, the swell of a hearty guitar riff.

I hope when he hears "Use Somebody," some 20 years from now, he sees sunshine in my red hair as it lifts and dances across my shoulders, flicking into my mouth, wide and open in song, palms thumping on the steering wheel, and turning to grin to him, to tap his knee in time to the song, to clasp his small pudgy hand in my own and say to him "I love you. So, so much."

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