Music in the Air   Leave a comment

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Without music, life would be a mistake. – Friedrich Nietzsche

No, this is not a post about the holiday-that-must-not-be-named. It is actually about music.

When I was in college, I sublet an apartment with a friend one January as we both needed to stay in the area to take a class during the winter session. One afternoon, he felt the need to bring up some issue – I honestly don’t remember what it was – that was bothering him. What I do remember is I was having a really bad day. I hadn’t slept well, my class was a deadly combination of really, really boring and extremely detail-oriented, and I had managed to miss lunch so my blood sugar was crashing.

I told my friend this exact moment wasn’t a good time.  I wasn’t putting him off, but later (like after I had something to eat) really would be better. Maybe at dinner. He was not to be deterred, and instead started talking at me. Less than two sentences in, I interrupted him.

Have you heard me singing at all since I’ve been home?” I asked. “Or whistling? Or even humming?”

He thought for a moment, and answered, “Not since this morning. Why?”  The look on his face showed he thought I was nuts.  Which simply made me more cranky.

I took a deep breath and explained the ‘Let’s Gauge Lisa’s Mood Using Music’ survival technique which boils down to this: The louder the music emanating from my mouth, the better my mood is. If there is no music, my mood is in the basement, and approaching me to discuss anything is akin to taking your life in your hands.

Wisely, he retreated upstairs to his bedroom, making sure the door was firmly closed behind  him.

I ate my long-delayed lunch, and at dinner we had both spaghetti and a great chat about whatever the hell it was he wanted to talk about that I still don’t remember. (Notice, I remember what we ate, just not what we talked about. I have my priorities.) We continued to live in harmony for the next few weeks until we moved back into our respective dorm rooms and remained friends until we lost track of each other after graduation.

Why do I bring this fairly amusing story up? For one simple reason.

Since my divorce, I have had a hard time listening to music when I am alone. Now, this may not sound like a big deal to many people. It is to me. And here’s why.

You know how most people can close their eyes and visualize pictures in their heads? Think about how many times have you heard people close their eyes and say, “I’m in my happy place. I’m in my happy place.” I can’t do that. I close my eyes, and all I see darkness.

But in that darkness I hear music.

In my head, I can play entire albums or soundtracks from the first note straight through to the last chord. I hear the orchestrations, the vocal tracks, the pauses between notes.

(I have both the stage and movie versions of Rent up in there, along with a truly impressive amount of Sondheim. And Billy Joel.) Which has made it all the more strange to me how difficult it has been listening to the radio, CDs, or MP3s when I am alone.

When I’m with the boy, it’s not a problem. We plug in an MP3 player and sing at the top of our lungs. (We’ve taken to dueting “My Eyes” from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog; he’s got a good voice, and it’s a lot of fun. Just don’t ask him to sing in front of you as he won’t., which is seriously too bad.)

But when I’ve been driving or have been home by myself on the weekends he is with his father, what comes out of the speakers has been primarily been audio books and NPR.

I think I’ve been needing background conversations. Having the television doesn’t work for me because if the stupid thing idiot box TV is on, I’m sitting down in front of it watching whatever is on, whether I’m interested or not. And that’s not conducive to getting anything accomplished. (For example, I’ve noticed my son tends to complain when we run out of groceries.)

Audio books and liberal talk radio fill the silence while still letting me pretend I have a life.

Lately, however, I have noticed something. Every now and then, I find myself singing in the shower. Or while cooking. And this past weekend I went to visit my parents and didn’t listen to my newly downloaded book at all on the way there. Instead I listened to an a cappella radio show out of Emerson College, and when that ended a CD of a Broadway musical I’ve had in the car for years.

It kind of surprised me.

And then when I made dinner the other night, I got bored with whoever Terry Gross was interviewing on Fresh Air – yes, yes, she’s great, but the guest was dull – and switched the radio to one of the Springfield pop music stations. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

The soundtrack in my head is still muted, but I think some of the music I hear all the time in my mind is trying to escape. And it’s a good thing. Maybe it means I’m finally starting to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Which I would like. It’s been way too dark in my head for way too long.

I would like to hear the music again rather than missing the conversations that used to occur in my house, so I’m hoping this trend continues.

For right now, though? The boy just got home from dinner with his father, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go crank up good ol’ Doctor Horrible and see if I can’t con the child into singing with his mother.

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Posted February 10, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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