Thursday, November 7, 2013

Waterproof Bandaids

It was the summertime of my tenth year.  I had long tangled blonde hair, bleached to a slimy green hue from the excessive exposure to pool chlorine.  I had always loved swimming, but never quite as much as I did that summer.  It was hot and dry in the valley, with average temperatures hovering around 105 degrees, so naturally I spent my days in any swimming pool I could find.  Occasionally my brother and I would swim in the filthy canals that surrounded the fields on our farm.  We were warned about rats, but we never did see any.   My skin was almost as dark as my chocolate brown eyes, so much so that I could have passed for a Mexican.  Moms didn’t fuss with sunscreen back then the way they do now, or at least mine didn’t. 

I was a strong swimmer, and the water offered me a different kind of safe haven that year, more than it had ever done before.  I can still hear the utter silence as I jumped off the diving board, head first into my grandfather’s pool.  We were hosting a wake that day, for my twenty-one year old aunt who had committed suicide.  There were over a hundred people there, and the low buzzing of quiet chatter seemed deafeningly loud.  I felt guilty, walking through the house in my swimsuit, while others were dressed in black suits and stiff dresses, clutching snotty, wet handkerchiefs in their tense hands; but I was ten and it was hot, and the pool was quiet. 

Dozens of people stood around the pool, forcing false grins which stretched across their skin as I mounted the diving board and curled my toes over the edge.  Within a moment I was fully submerged in the safety of the pool, and all of the noise disappeared.  I was encompassed by the kind of silence that can only be found inside of a child’s innocent mind.  Surprisingly, for the first time I found myself scared in the water.  I could feel my favorite, dead aunt’s presence, as though she were swimming after me, and so I made my way to the surface as quickly as possible, and the noise returned.  I found myself in a quandary.  Should I get out and surround myself with grief, or should I stay in the water and listen to the deafening silence?  I stayed in the pool, swimming just below the surface from one end to the other for an hour, holding my breath as long as I could.  I could still feel her following me, just about to grasp the ends of my toes, and so I swam harder to remain out of her reach.  I could feel it all summer long, every single time I got into a pool.  I craved the silence that could only be found beneath the surface, yet I feared that I was being chased by a dead woman.  I would learn to live with it.

My kelly green swimsuit was my second skin that summer.  I took it off only occasionally to take a shower, and who needed a shower when they were in a pool all day?  Even when my mom forced me to take a shower and to use the soap, I rarely took the suit off.  One afternoon, after she insisted that I bathe, I walked down the hallway and noticed a cabinet, half open, which stored the Band-Aids.  Old enough to feel the pain of losing a beloved family member in such a tragic way, and young enough to still believe that Band-Aids still had the capacity to heal wounds, I grabbed three beige bandages and took them into the bathroom.  Without being asked, I peeled off my swimsuit, and carefully placed the bandages over my left breast in a pathetic attempt to heal my pain.  Realizing that it didn’t work, I sobbed in acknowledgment of my broken, ten-year-old heart.  I pulled my swimsuit back over my tiny, hairless body and pedaled my bike to the city pool rather than taking a shower. 

I swam that day with a bandaged heart, knowing that she was right behind me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Mixed Tape Of My Life

I’m not sure what the catalyst for this venture was, but lately I’ve been compiling a list of songs in my head that make up the “mixed tape” for my life so far.  Upon listening to each song, I am immediately taken back to a very specific time; whether it’s a first concert, a first love, a loss, cruising with my best friends, moments with my babies, and so on.  Obviously there are hundreds of songs that I’d like to add to the list, but I’ve limited myself to twenty-five…. I don’t think more than twenty-five would fit on a mixed tape.
I’m having a hard time thinking of songs from the past five years, but someday I’ll hear a song and know it belongs on this list for this time in my life; but for now, I’d say this is pretty accurate. 

In consecutive order:

1.       My BestFriend’s Girl, by The Cars 
When asked in 3rd grade who my favorite band was, this was my answer…. Everyone laughed at me. I didn’t care.  I loved The Cars.  And as it turns out, this would also be one of my favorite songs in High School. 

2.       How WillI Know, by Whitney Houston 
My first crush: Eric Melton (or was it Ian Hall?)  Second grade.... but seriously, how WILL I know if he really loves me?  ;)

3.       Only in my Dreams, by Debbie Gibson 
My first concert.  Totally obsessed.  Official member of the Debbie Gibson fan club.  Proud owner and wearer of Debbie Gibson’s perfume: Electric Youth.

The first genre of music my parents didn’t understand.  Thank you Sarah Moore. 

5.       WindBeneath My Wings, by Bette Midler 
My aunt Nancy died. She was 21 and beautiful.  I still can’t listen to this song without crying.

6.       Nuthin’But A “G” Thang, by Dr. Dre 
Introduced to an album (which is still one of my favorites) by Frank Mendez and Robert Mayorga. We drank Mad Dog 50/50 out of a water bottle…. 7th grade.

7.       Close ToYou, by The Carpenters 
PJ Wilson used to sing it to me.  It was pretty sweet.  I sing this song to my kids now.

8.       Mockingbird, by Carly Simon & James Taylor 
Robyn and I KILLED at singing this song, duet style, cruising the Ford Fiesta around Dixon.

9.       Here comethe Bastards, by Primus 
Saw Primus with Tool each year with PJ, Dan, and others I can’t remember.  Also, when I hear my kids wake up in the morning on the weekends, this song comes to mind immediately.

10.   Love Song, by The Cure 
Introduced to me when I was about 16 by a much older neighbor who had the hots for me.  More importantly, I think this song perfectly encapsulates that feeling of when you first fall in love with someone.

11.   Plateau, by Nirvana 
I don’t know why this one means so much to me…. It just does.  I listened to it a lot.

12. Simple Man, Leonard Skynard
Just really great advice for a simple and happy life.

13.   The Joker, by Steve Miller Band 
Drinking beers with my friends at The Airstrip and Thistle Road: my favorite thing to do in Dixon… also the ONLY thing to do in Dixon.

14.   Don’t Rock My Boat, Bob Marley & Lee Perry 
Hanging out at Jeremiah Smith’s house.  Seriously crushing on AJ Bernhardt. Also reminds me of Robyn and her amazing dad, Alex… who had the sickest collection of classic reggae albums.

15.   I Want It, by 7 Year Bitch 
17 years old. Also enjoyed frequently in Robyn’s car.  Saw them in SF with Kristen Ball and Volpi.  We got lost on BART on the way home, and ended up getting an escort from a police man.

16.   LoveBites, by Def Leppard 
Summer anthem. Melissa Graham. Tanglewood.

17.   Walk Away, by Ben Harper 
Seriously broken heart.  I thought he was "the one."  Turns out, he wasn't; and I am so thankful for that lesson.

18.   ScarTissue, Chilli Peppers 
This album was on repeat that year with a friend I miss often, Bobby Atkinson

19.   YourHouse, Steel Pulse 
Fell madly in love with Kevin (we’ll be married 10 years this October).  This song is our song.  Retrospectively, it's pretty awesome that I felt song #19 so intensely, and then this song shortly thereafter.  You couldn't pay me to be 20 again.

20. First Cut Is The Deepest, by Cat Stevens
Working at The Shadowbrook, Terry and Terry would sing this song on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Became an instant favorite.

21. Your Love Gets Sweeter Everyday, Finley Quay
Dancing with the Douglass roommates atop furniture at Douglass....Julie and Nicole.  Anthem for my relationship with Kevin.

22.   Pimpass Paradise, Damian Marley 
Seemed to be my theme song for a bit, and now it isn’t.  Still love this song.

23. Nutshell, by Alice in Chains
Lyrics that chill me to the bone.  Someone else gets it.

24. The Blower's Daughter, by Damien Rice 
I love my babies.  This song makes me think of all of the tiny moments I've looked at them and fallen more deeply in love with them. Nothing else matters in this world.  Nothing.

25.   American Girl, by Tom Petty 
This is, and has been, my favorite song for about 15 years now.  Tom Petty is my favorite performer and song writer.  I can’t listen to a Tom Petty song without thinking of my oldest friend, Courtney Rae.