“Music is like life. So often we listen to the melody but don’t hear the words.” Keith of carryon tuesday
She sat, knees up, her arms tightly holding them in position. She rested her head in the air just above them while the thud thump of her heartbeat echoed in her ears. This was a body sound, like the fluttering of butterfly wings echoing off the eardrum, or the tap, tap of heels clicking down the ear canal. It was the strange, otherworldly sounds – as if her ears were windows open to the outside world where street noises, voices, mixed with stereos playing opera, or talk-radio wafting up from car windows or sidewalk vendors and street corner gatherers.
These sounds were always far off in the distance; if she really strained, she might make out an aria, or determine whether it was sports time on the radio. At first, she would check around her apartment to see if she’d left the radio on, or put her ear to the walls or lie low by the crack between the floor and her closed door to try and trace the radio-voices. Soon she realized, these were all in her head. More specifically, all in her ears like the rhythm of her heartbeat. Humming motors, like fridge condenser unit, intensified these ear-sounds. Blasting her ipod ear buds, or cranking up NPR helped to drown out, for a time, the sounds that were entering through her ears, but mushrooming once inside her head. Often, she made her own “white noise” that blossomed when the other sounds were silent.
She told no one of this “twilight zone” kind of experience. If she mentioned “voices in her head,” she knew what conclusion folks would draw. The same with mentioning how lyrics got stuck in her mind, pinned to her memory like krazy glue. Sometimes these snippets of a line or two were merely annoying caused by exposure to muzac in elevators or stores. Or, they welled up, unbidden, from some part of her life/experiences she tried hard not to think about; lyrics that defined her sorrows, or cut like the knife of her regrets and failures. Try as she might, these lyrics only brought shame, tears, and head shaking “what ifs. . . .” Then, there were the lyrics that uplifted, raised her spirits and her outlook. She might call upon them, wishing them back into her auditory life. Like a dj’s or mp3 playlist, carefully designed mash-ups, and forceful messages.
Without thinking about it, songs would materialize in her head; lyrics that spoke the language of regret and forgiveness; truth and fiction; anthems to define her life now. Signposts when she didn’t realize she needed guidance; keys to unlock mysteries and providing the answer to prayers and crossword puzzles; to metaphors and allegories.
If she even let her head touch her knees, she knew her body would explode into a million pieces of sea glass, tiny prisms reflecting the blues of sea and sky. If she could only concentrate, she would call up a song that assisted her in the past, a song of inspiration with lyrics hitting home, but promising better days to come.
She could only get a very small fragment to swill up into the blackness and floating amorphous shapes created when she closed her eyes. This was both called for, and unwanted. The fragment offered some hope, but didn’t have the answer or annoyance factor. It was a simply stated, everyday sort of lyric; nothing mystical, magical about hearing it. Not faint like far off on a stereo, or loud, in your face like the lyrics of regret.
Knowing that truth, that sharing/linking to millions around the globe, she gently put her head down. Her body quivered, shook, but did not break. The thud thump faded, the talk-radio turned off, the white noise dampened. “Everybody hurts sometimes.”