The Same Twelve Songs
(This post was rescued from the drafts folder of my old blog, and dates back to March of 2012. I have no idea why I didn’t post it then, but here it is now. WHEEEEEE)
It’s not quite three in the morning, sitting on the cusp of a crisp March Friday morning. I’m wide awake after a couple hours of sleep, typing this up by the light from the laptop screen. James Taylor is singing “Fire and Rain” in the background, talking with Elvis Costello about songwriting and politics and religion and history. There isn’t much traffic outside, and my apartment is quiet, but for the voice of a musical hero. He says: “I write the same twelve songs over and over.”
Things I’ve been doing lately, in no particular order: bitching about 40 degree temperature swings and crazy weather that can’t decide on a season; watching Brene Brown videos on YouTube, then making mental lists of all the things I’m ashamed of, then crying my eyeballs out; sleeping in two shifts, a few hours at a time, with a few hours in between – I read an article about it awhile back, and it suits my frenetic energy right now.
I woke up just now from a disconcerting dream. There were strange parts – I was in an old apartment, in the kitchen with a sinkful of dirty dishes and a gorgeous garden on the back porch that was being trashed by a monkey; my cats had escaped the apartment, and were outside on the porch playing tag with a squirrel; after the cats were herded back into the apartment, the squirrel came with, then ate some soap and passed out – but the weirdest part by far was that I had two kids.
At the end of the dream, I was sitting on the couch with my sister; she was holding my daughter, who was not quite a year old. She had thick, dark hair, like I did at that age, and the same dark brown eyes. She fell asleep with her head on my sister’s shoulder as we were talking, and it was just one of those beautiful, love-drenched moments.
My son, a rollicking five or six year old, had really curly dark hair, blue-gray eyes, and a laugh that warmed the cockles of my wee black heart. He was on my lap, and I was playing human jungle gym the way I do with my nieces and nephews in the waking world. I was flipping him upside down and giving him little tosses into the air before catching him and sitting him on my knee. In that moment, both of us laughing our heads off, he looked me in the eye with such an adoring expression on his face, that I suddenly felt this overwhelming rush of guilt and shame about how I was living my life. Surely, went my internal monologue, SURELY I could give up more and make do with less so this precious laughing boy had more opportunity and better chances for success and joy!
That was the moment where I woke up, still feeling all that guilt and shame. Luckily, I also was still feeling all that love and joy in sharing a quiet moment with people I love. That bit was nice, even if it was supremely weird to have such intense motherly feelings for kids that don’t exist. And that I still don’t want now that I’m legitimately awake.
Mister Taylor is telling the story of his firstborn nephew, named after his uncle, and the lullaby that wrote itself on a long drive down the coast to North Carolina. I’ve never laid eyes on snow-capped Berkshires, but I have watched the sunrise chase the stars over the peaks of the Appalachians, my sister curled under her coat, asleep in the passenger seat beside me. That’s one of those twelve songs I’m always trying to write, and never really managing to get quite right.
If it wasn’t the middle of the night, I’d get out my guitar and sing until I ran out of voice. I think I’ll go back to bed instead.
Goodnight, you moonlight ladies.