I hit shuffle on my playlist and away it goes, cheerleading the way as the blinds are dusted and the toilet scrubbed. Socks matched and put away. Last Kiss comes on and with it I go back. Knees show through worn out jeans on lawn chairs around a campfire. Probably they were out of tune but I wouldn’t have known it then–so desperate to learn the words so I could sing along. And then Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl. As I remember it, Uncle Monte alone sang that one–his voice rooting so deep into me I can still hear the smooth, sweet sound of him in my head all these years later. Next to it there was only the pop and crackle of the fire, the crash of the waves across the PCH. Flashlight beams and laughter like smoke rising toward a starry sky.
And then–years later–the Eagles. I wish you peace when times are hard. A light to guide you through the dark. My cousin, Cade, standing graveside reading his words from a page as they lowered our grandmother into the ground. I fought to keep grip of the boombox–the weight of it too heavy a burden that empty morning.
Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner. Sometimes I feel like my only friend…Jaime and I, buzzing down the 101. We found ways to kill time. Beach bonfires and Taco Bell and the freedom to go. To do.
All-4-One. We’ll hang some memories on the wall. And I swear…A picnic basket with wine glasses and a bottle of sparkling cider. It was prom and only barely could I fit into the dress–the bulge of my belly all wrong in that sea of slow-dancing seniors.
Too pregnant for one school I switched to the next. A daybed–never made–across from a wall of windows with shades always drawn. A megaphone and poms useless in the corner. Sad goodbyes caught up with me and in my room and I was crying when the phone rang. Listen to the radio, he said. The voice of a friend whose warnings I should have listened to. I tuned in and the DJ said my name. When the night has come and the land is dark. And the moon is the only light you’ll see. Such perfect timing it was. Happenstance.
A lifetime later. For our desert wedding we made a CD and filled it with the songs of our story. They’re scattered–now–across my playlist. Just today I went looking for the group of them, to play from start to end but it doesn’t exist. I make a mental note to remedy that.
Our song is different, but when I close my eyes and picture him in front of me there is no doubting the song that keeps tune to him. If red roses weren’t so lovely if wine didn’t taste so good. If stars weren’t so romantic then I could do what I should. Oh you. It’s always you. A thousand scenes of him flash–the familiar and the long lost and the yet to come. Warmth and home and knowing.
This is the soundtrack to my life. Melodies sung in tune that take me not just to a span of years but to a moment so specific I can feel the brush of fingers on my skin, taste the salt in the beach air.
If this life were a movie, the soundtrack would sell it.