There’s that song. Everyone has one. When you’re forty, there are those songs, no longer just that song. The ones that, when you hear them, they throw you back to a single moment in time. To that place, the smell of the freshly-mown lawn scratching your bare back, the gentle kiss, the hug that squeezes the air out of you, the old friends, the chlorine in your eyes as you skinny-dipped in that pool, the orange glow of the flames on the old wooden beams of that house, the stranger who was in your life for ten minutes but changed it with his tender words, salt drying on your skin, sandy feet.
Those songs. It’s hard to pick just a few, but I’m going to try.
Blister In The Sun. Violent Femmes, as my sister and I whirled and twirled, sun-kissed and carefree, the Kowie River flowing toward the sea outside the open doors, the air salty and moist.
R.E.M. Nightswimming, as I walked from the library in the moonlight, heartbroken for the first time. Days later, I’d be buoyed by a poem on the poetry wall. Months later, skinny-dipping in that pool, illicitly, no longer heartbroken, with the boy who would turn to the gods.
Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park – the whole album, on vinyl – with Small University Town’s lights spread out below us. Followed by R.E.M. What’s The Frequency Kenneth, as first love coursed through us, a delicious new delight. The beautifully broken innocence. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Cowboy Junkies’ Sweet Jane in a house across the road from a graveyard. More love. Years later, even more, a beautiful lesson, in a different house lit with stars and crawling with ghosts, echoing with that same song.
They Might Be Giants. Birdhouse In My Soul. Because he was. And later he helped me pull through.
Pearl Jam. There He Goes. My tears wetting that rough, brown carpet beneath my cheek, the smell of damp as the trees outside my second-story window whispered to each other: ‘If only she knew what’s coming.’
Underworld’s Born Slippy. Under a hot, blue Karoo sky as I broke. It was the perfect soundtrack. Just then, just there. That single second moment.
We lay in my bed, the sheet crumpled, too hot to move. Him who has known me for forever, the others’ voices carrying in through the wide open windows on the hot night air. Massive Attack’s Teardrop. The joy of family that don’t share blood. Him, me, always.
Tori Amos’ 1000 Oceans, at the ocean, waves crashing and wind whipping. Salt air in our hair.
New Slang, The Shins. Just you and me driving too fast on a quiet highway in the early hours of the morning, windows open to the hot summer night, our hair whipping about our faces. We were momentarily invincible.
Hero, Family of the Year. Home, entwined, silvery strands of the moon shining on our skin. It was perfect, then. And then Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. Hard to admit, but it fit.
AKing, Safe As Houses, the mountains turning pink at dawn. The realisation that everything was going to be okay.
Racing Like A Pro, The National, up on the hill, looking across the world toward the mountains, wind howling, rain beating, heart squelching, my whole being smiles.
Sia’s Titanium in my garage, all hung with sparkly lights, the silhouettes of the star-filled trees inky blank against the warm summer night sky. The comfort of friends from forever ago and friends from just now. The warm embrace of being loved and loving, of growing older, and all the loveliness that comes with that.
Cheerleader. OMI’s catchy little tune. Delicious Nephews and I singing along in the car. Pure joy. Discussions of Tooth Fairies, dreams and silliness. The eternal continuum. My reflection.
The realisation that this soundtrack still has many tracks that’ll be added. I’m far from done.