There are times I do things because I want to, and times I do things because I have to. This morning after seeing T. Bone off for a long day of skiing, I found myself bundled up and headed to the beach to watch the sunrise over a Lake Michigan shrouded in sea smoke. The Wild soundtrack I jubilantly received the day before was in the midst of El Candor Pasa as I left. This song, in particular, has been haunting me since I saw the movie Tuesday. I surmise that's because it could have been plucked from my own childhood. Music is one of the main portals to the past. So many songs are straight gateways to my pains and paths to my pleasures as well. If I Could leaves me feeling naggingly nostalgic for a youth filled with promise and potential. A time in my life when I felt protected and whole. But the honest truth is that even as an innocent young girl, I knew that feeling wouldn't last. It's been inherent in me for as long as I can remember to understand on a cellular level that things are always changing, and that life is short.
I am five years old and my mom is toweling me off after a bath. It is mid-summer. The air is sweet with lilac blooms and the sun still high in the sky despite the fact it's almost my bedtime. My mom turns her attention to my younger brother. I'm watching them from my bed across the room. She's tickling him and he's giggling. I smile too, but inside I am sad and scared. I'm sad and scared because I want us to be this way forever, and even at this tender age, I have a strong inkling that's not possible. I bring levity to the lightness when I ask what happens when we die. I blurt it out and everything stands still for a second. But my mom is not one to gloss over things or tie them up with a pretty bow. She tells me we are gone then. Gone forever. She may mention Heaven, but I cannot say for sure because it doesn't mean much to me yet. I bury my face in my towel to stifle my tears, and the darkness makes me picture a never-ending black hole of nothingness. A void. "Forever and ever and ever and ever to infinity?" I blubber needing to know while wanting an entirely different answer. "Yes, forever," she concedes, "But no one is going anywhere for a very long time." That night and many after, I am deathly afraid to go to sleep.
Yep, all that from one song. I'll spare you where I went for the other 14 tracks, but suffice it to say it was an emotional drive. As I pulled up to the beach, I was relieved to see it was deserted. I'll take -2 degrees any day if it means I can have the sunrise all to myself. I walked down the path while I watched the giant egg yolk of a sun emerge from the steam hovering over the lake. The billow looked like a battalion of misty ghosts haunting the horizon. I wasn't scared like I was that summer night so many years ago though because I know a little more about myself, the world, life. And when I see the sun burning bright dawn after dawn, I cannot tell you that I think any of our spirits are ever gone forever. I just cannot.