11.12.2010

Memory Fridays: The Musical Carousel of Moments Passed

I was in the spring semester of my Master's degree in Paris when I stumbled on a blog called 185 Cranios Walk into a Bar. I can't remember how I encountered it, but it told the story of a young woman whose husband had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Within 9 months, he was dead.

I had just downloaded a bunch of songs from the Internet and as I started reading this blog, "Mad World" by Gary Jules started playing. I spent the rest of the day with that song on repeat, reading the blog from its beginning. I was scared out of my mind.

Let's remember that I had just broken up with the man I was living with, the man I'd moved abroad to be with. Let's remember that I wasn't sure if I'd stay in France after defending my thesis (I didn't). Let's remember that I was simultaneously feeling a delicious freedom and a guilty conscience. What if I had just screwed up the best relationship I'd ever had? What if I had, once again, been unable to commit? 

And here comes this blog, this perfectly wonderful couple, whose lives are torn apart when he dies. Of a tumor. And left behind are a beautiful young wife and a little boy. 

I sobbed much of that day. 

And all the while, this Gary Jules song played in the background. I couldn't get myself to turn it off, as if the sad and slow melody was the company I needed while reading their unbelievable story. 

Relationships have blurry endings and you mourn over long swaths of time, sometimes in blips and sometimes in continuous confusion. I know that I spent that spring mourning the end of the relationship, but I don't remember much of it. My real memory of the end of that relationship was the day I read the brain blog and let myself cry for hours and hours. I can't hear "Mad World" without remembering that day, what it felt like to sit on my uncomfortable couch in my faded blue robe. I cried for Danna and I cried for Mike and I cried for the fact that I couldn't get my act together and the fear that I never would. 

If you would have asked me an hour ago what this week's Memory post would be, there is no way I'd say it would be about that blog or the end of that relationship. But that's the funny thing about music; from out of nowhere, a song comes on and you're transplanted back to a spring four years ago, to a chilly Parisian apartment, to a time when you were confused. And that's music's power. I'm sure you have songs that do the same for you. We all do.

Maybe we should be thankful for these musical associations. After all, they keep us from living too far from our memories. They keep them right up front, recalled at any moment via iTunes or a juke box or the radio, an instant reminder of where we've come from and what we've lived through. 

Sometimes we need the reminders.

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