It always comes back to music for me.
Music is my soundtrack to all of life’s events, both trivial and tantamount to shaping who have become and am becoming. Music fuels me when nothing else can motivate me to keep pressing forward. Music makes me laugh, and cry. Music is cathartic, especially live. As Third Eye Blind once sang, “The four right chords could make me cry.”
Music is there, even when it’s 4am and no one’s answering their phone or online. Music is fun and silly, and intelligent and challenging. Music can evoke a mood, or change it for the better.
Music is my oxygen.
Music can also take me back, certain songs triggering memories so succinctly that they feel real again, feel as if the events were unfolding right this moment. I can close my eyes and remember it all: the way I felt, how cold or warm I was, who was there and what we did. Certain lyrics will forever affect me, forever connect to certain people or places. Such is the case with Pictures of Success by Rilo Kiley. In late 2007, I suddenly found myself feeling suffocated by life, by my failed aspirations, by my own mood swings, and by the illnesses in my family, namely my grandfather and father. I had to escape. I had to leave town and recharge completely.
In the end, with a lot of luck, as if the universe understood what I was in need of, I found myself in California right before my birthday, and spent the actual day slinging back margaritas with some of my best friends in the world on a patio in Tijuana. It was perfect weather for me – late spring temperatures for my home city, with sunny skies and breeze. Everything about that trip was exactly as I wanted it to be. In the entire month of November, I’d blared Pictures of Success over and over, as if willing the fates to work out, singing along: “They say California is a recipe for a black hole/And I say I’ve got my best shoes on/I’m ready to go…” And I was ready. I walked away from that trip in late December, turning to my boyfriend and saying, “That was what I needed. I feel strong again. I feel ready to cope now.”
That was December 17th, 2007. By December 1st, 2008, my foreboding feelings over my grandfather had proven terribly true, with my grandfather going from back pain to heart attack to cancer to terminal to passing away. So much can happen in a year, much more than we ever anticipate. I dare not consider how well I would have handled that year without that time in the sun, to breathe in the ocean air and revive myself.
And even now, as I miss him terribly, that song drifts into my head, to remind me of that strength I found. I wish I had a plane ticket now; I’m definitely ready to go, once more.