Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Soundtrack of My Life

I don’t know about some of the rest of you, but with almost every significant moment in my life, there’s an equally significant song that has branded my memory to associate that said moment with.  As of late, I’ve been re-savoring these said moments – for reasons unbeknownst to me.  For those unknown reasons I simply smile to relive where I’ve come and how far I’ve come. 

For artistic reasons, these moments I describe and associate songs with are told in a kind of shuffled order.  

…(Summer of 2010)...One afternoon in the foggy summer’s day riding and peddling the hilly streets of San Francisco, after leaving a rondevu with co-workers and supervisors (who I looked at more as friends) as I made my rounds to say good bye to a city that had forged so much for me, a quiet and soft song queued on my iPod.  A song that almost whispered to me of returning to these wondrous streets of cable cars, eclectic characters, and iconic sights; “Do you have to…do you have to…do you have to let it linger…Oh you know I’m such a fool for you… you got me wrapped around your finger…do you have to let it linger.”  That song by the Cranberries speaks to me of my love for the city by the bay; how I’m hopelessly intoxicated by its originality, by its intrigue, by its allure, but most importantly by its people, and how I came into my own there.    

…(July of 2012)...One angry and stormy night in July, I found myself alone and hearing devastating news of my dad’s health.  The words: stage four, terminal, 12 months to live echoed in my ear as I simultaneously collapsed in a rage of tears and sorrow.  After many more words and tears exchanged between father and daughter in a cross country call I promised two things: one to make the arrangements to come home to California, and two, to get some friends over and help me get through the night with devastating news and an angry storm.  Before those two dear friends came rushing over in loving aid and presence, the rock song with heavy emotion from 3 Doors Down came on…  “It's down to this, I've got to make this life make sense; Can anyone tell what I've done.  I miss the life.  I miss the colors of the world.  Can anyone tell where I am 'Cause now again I've found myself so far down, away from the sun, that shines into the darkest place I’m so far down, away from the sun again.”  It was all I could do, to feel thrown in that darkest place, as I tried with all my might to simply walk down the second floor hall, but instead found myself gripping the banister railing to keep me from totally falling in a rage of sorrow that pierced my gut.  As I crouched there in a haze of tears and screams, one hand on the banister, the other on the opposite wall, it was all I could do to inch myself closer to the stairs to get to the first floor before my friends arrived.  

…(Fall of 2009)...Another song, sung by none other than the Michael Jackson, graced my ears one afternoon, after being distraught from friends and confusion.  It was all I could do and hop on my bike (yet again) and sail down a steep 45 degree downward decent from my San Francisco abode to the sands of Ocean beach.  As I listened to the hums and rhythms of the opening melody, it granted me an instant serenity.  “Hold me; you are my friend; carry me; love me; will you be there; when wrong will you scold me; when lost will you find me; care enough to bare me…”  As the words resonated with me, the sunset I gazed at, as I continued to soar downhill, embraced me, and all I could do was surrender with arms wide open (still on my bike) into the sunset.  And in an instant, serenity overwhelmed me.  

 …(December 2010)...One serial afternoon I found myself visiting San Francisco via the underwater rail system (BART) one late December day, after living and teaching in Philadelphia for a mere 5 months.  It was Christmas break, and I was home for the holidays!  As I anticipated the city that I love so much and all its sights, sounds and people Vanessa Carlton’s blissful keyboard playing arose on my iPod just as I stepped off the BART train and up the escalator to the hilly streets of the city and song “San Francisco.”  “I know what you did; Like a boy of summer gives his first kiss; Love, is dancing on my finger; Now I'm walking with the living; I always liked Steinbeck and those old men whistling; We're back, we're back in San Francisco; We're back and you tell me I'm home; Talking in the Mission; Over coffee this is my utopia…” The song and its melody sang to me of my love of my city. 

…(Spring 2006)...Walking through the coble stoned streets of Rome one warm spring day, I and new earned dear friend and I played hooky from our study abroad class.  Italian Cinema; eh, I’ll pass for one day!  Passing the flower covered Spanish Steps, the tourist packed Trevi Fountain; and charming and quaint streets till we passed other ancient landmarks preserved in a modern city full of romance, subways, busses, food and delicious gelato.  In an instant; on this delightful sunny day; we both impromptu put on the first song in her iPod: “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.  “Staring at the blank page before you, Open up the dirty window, Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find.  Reaching for something in the distance, So close you can almost taste it.  Release your inhibitions.  Feel the rain on your skin, No one else can feel it for you. Only you can let it in.  No one else, no one else, Can speak the words on your lips.  Drench yourself in words unspoken.  Live your life with arms wide open.  Today is where your book begins.  The rest is still unwritten.”  As we strolled down Roman streets sharing earphones, a kind of beauty and potential for my life came over me.

…(September 2008)...In another moment, James Taylor and his soothing vocals played in a Tai restaurant a block away from Golden Gate Park, as two friends sat across from each other in a kind of unrequited love.  “I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain.  I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end…I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend…but I always thought that I’d see you again…”  As my heart was aching in this moment of unreturned love, I listened to this song as a promise of retaining a dear friend.   

…(November 2011)...In the final stretch of my second marathon, I found myself searching for a power song to carry me the rest of the way down the scenic Kelly Drive.  Florence + The Machine should surely do the trick!  “Dog Days Are Over, and it’s playful trickle like melody was the winner.  “The dog days are over.  The dog days are done.  The horses are coming.  So you better run.  Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father.  Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers; Leave all your love and your longing behind.  You can't carry it with you if you want to survive.”  In the height of autumn colors and leaves, I ran and sprinted down that final Philadelphia marathon stretch without an ache in my body…that is not until I finally crossed the finished line; then I could barely walk.  What can I say; 26.2 miles will do a number one you.  Lots of ice!  

…(January 2010)...In another instant I found myself by coincidence reconnecting with a missed connection of a fireman.  A tall and handsome brown haired and eyed man and I almost collided on ice in the middle of Union Square, San Fran over holiday ice skating.  What were the odds I’d run into this dangerously charming man?!  One or two weeks later (like it matters now) him and I gravitated towards each other over Naun and Curry, Mass, and dare I say rock climbing.  Nothing like muscles, sweat, and our bodies sprawled on a rock wall to build some tension!  Needless to say it was a short lived lil romance; especially since I was about to move to Philadelphia to teach intercity youth; yet I found myself in my SF abode cooking dinner as my Pandora played, “Here we go Again” by Demi Lavato.  “So how did you get here under my skin; Something about you is so addictive; We're fallin' together; You think that by now I'd know; 'Cause here we go go go again; But I start to go insane; Everytime that you look at me; so here we go again.”  How was it that I fell for this man’s charm again?  Shake the dust off - it's all good.  

…(Spring 2009)...One spring day turning to evening I joyfully hopped on my bike, zipped and zoomed through the twilight lit streets and iconic campus of Berkeley.  In this moment I felt a sense of zeal for life after leaving a dual campus ministry event between two Newman clubs, that I had a large part in forming.  In this high of joy and bliss MC Hammer and one of his better known hits, hit my ears – “U Can’t Touch This”  “Give me a song, or rhythm…Make 'em sweat, that's what I'm giving 'em…Now, they know…You talking about the Hammer you talking about a show…That's hype, and tight…Singers are sweating so pass them a wipe…Or a tape, to learn…What's it gonna take in the 90's to burn…The charts? Legit…Either work hard or you might as well quit…That's word because you know... You can't touch this.”  Without a doubt, I felt nothing could “touch” me. 

…In the fall of one of the years I addressed San Francisco, my dear Ethiopian and alluring friend/coworker and I departed from an evening gathering of prayer, as we both by spontaneous chance began obnoxiously singing to Don Mclean’s “American Pie,” in his car, riding through a moonlit night in Golden Gate Park.  “We were singin' bye-bye, Miss American Pie; Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry; Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye; Singin' "This'll be the day that I die; This'll be the day that I die"”   For a friend that challenged me quite a bit in my Catholic beliefs; but who also brought out a care free kind of go with the flow way of being, I felt a huge sense of gratitude for him in my life and the gift of his friendship. 

…(Spring 2011)...Bright and early one spring Monday morning, before the sun had even completely risen, I found myself driving through Center City Philadelphia on interstate 676, before transferring to interstate 76 on route to my classroom in intercity West Philly.  First year teacher; Monday morning; coming off the weekend – need a say more?  I needed a Monday boost of energy to kick start me – and my two cups of coffee clearly wasn’t enough!  Queue Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Load” please!  “Let's get loud, let's get loud; Turn the music up, let's do it; C'mon people let's get loud; Let's get loud; Turn the music up to hear that sound; Let's get loud, let's get loud; Ain't nobody gotta tell ya; What you gotta do.”  There’s something about the song’s contagious energy that gave me the energy to handle the energy of my boisterous students.

You may ask yourself, why do you smile at some of these moments; as some are clearly painful?  To which I simply say, all good, bad, difficult, joyful, have made me into the strong independent woman I am; full of opinion (sometimes to the dismay of my family, as some opinions have changed), full of life and itching to live and see more of life here in California and elsewhere.  These moments remind me that if this is how colorful, eccentric, exciting and passionate life is now at 20-something, imagine how much more there is to discover. 

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