There is a hallway that connects one of the busiest subways in New York, Times Square 42nd Street, and the bus terminal that takes New Jersey people back and forth from city life. A frequented of this underground passageway, which I have mostly un-affectionately named the death tunnel (for its size is not at all proportionate to the general overcrowded rush of occupants, and I am a little-more-than-slightly claustrophobic) is something I take alternate routes to avoid whenever possible. But on the days where there just isn't time for my ridiculous whims, I take a deep breath, pick up the pace, and keep my eyes cast on the wall closest to me until I reach the other side.
And on one of those walls, mapped out in multi-colored mosaic tile, is a man, swinging a young child up in the air around him, playing one of those party favor horns in his mouth. This small depiction of a moment embraces me- the warm colors, the happy smiles, and the undeniably joyful music that I can hear as it flies by me in my rush to catch a bus.
Maybe it is my upbringing, or maybe it's just my soul that puts music into everything. I hear the calming strains of a keyboard in the city skyline, the lights drifting past me with a sweet elegance. I hear the deep intensity of a tuba as a secret is confided. The swells of a sunset evacuate my soul as I watch the colors fade in the evening sky, leaving behind a cool flute solo as blue settles over the world.
It's the same in relationships. All people who spends a little time in my life becomes a melodic solo, with a unique sound which resonates in the back of my mind. Each is a series of notes, writing and rewriting themselves situationally, reflecting the sharps and flats that occur in whatever it is we are building - whether it be a spat with a friend, an honest moment with one of my sisters, or the first kiss of a current suitor, the music box plays on.
The funny thing about hearing music in everything, though, is that you start to hear everything in music. The association is uncanny- “Linus and Lucy” plays, and I’m thrown into a warm summer breeze, sitting next to the pond in the park. Savage Garden’s “I don’t know you anymore” comes on to my ipod, and I’m suddenly looking at the inside of the gym that I worked at in it’s last final months of life, remembering the ache of closing the doors for the last time. Relient K’s jazzy rendition of “Sleigh Bells” gets me right back into the routine I learned in the college gym course I took. It’s an awesome thing, to be able to be thrown back so easily into the memories of where I’ve been.
But as you probably guessed, it doesn’t stop at things that have happened. A few strains of certain songs, and I’m watching the faces of people, both past and present, as if they were standing in front of me. I’ve known love, loss, happiness, and pain with an accompaniment on the side. Switchfoot’s “Only Hope” will always belong to Jordan, the first person to pass away in my young life- a more recent loss, Jim, will always have claim on Adele’s “Someone like you.” On the flip side, Fleetwood Mac singing “Landslide” is a memory of my mother, trying to bring sleep to her children’s eyes. And “Proud Mary” is still the only song my grandfather will dance too.
Of course, real life never happens in black and white. Not every person gets a song with their face on. And some people, well, they get more than just one. They get an artist or theme or cd, whether it be broadway girl duets (those belong to my childhood best friend, because we always said we’d sing them together), anything by the Monkee’s (my sisters... you should hear us sing “I’m gonna buy me a dog”) or the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz (that one is dedicated to all the people who survived preforming that show with me).
And sometimes, when something is still fresh in my mind, I can’t pinpoint the song that it needs to go with. To give you an overly personal example, I’ve recently drifted away from a friend I love a great deal. Life has brought us to points where it’s too hard to keep up, and even if it weren’t, it’s time for a little distance. But even though it’s just the way of life, it still breaks my heart, just a little bit. And sometimes, I can’t think of the words to comfort myself, so I just listen to my favorite songs that describe how I feel, and how to deal, and how it’s okay to be a little blue when moving on. He is my sad song, a haunting strain that hasn’t solidified or resolved in my head, that I wait on the completion of.
I think you get the idea. My life is one big soundtrack, switching tracks in and out. Some play over and over again, some get skipped frequently, and some get cut from the ultimate record all together. But they are my songs that fill my mind, and I am the one who understands their meaning.
Once, I wrote a sitcom episode for a friends birthday, complete with soundtrack and cues written in. It felt natural to give a tone to the events of the plot with a little diddy. And I wonder about the grand creator, up above, composing my cues and adding in the interludes. I wonder why He choose to let ,me hear these underlying songs. But mostly, as I rush through the hallway, slowing only for a second to look at my glass-tiled friend, I wonder what song He is playing about my current journey, and which one He’ll use to get me home.