Alone in a room filled with music, I lose track of time. Not just minutes and hours, but years. Decades intermingle like friends from high school, together briefly after lifetimes apart, trying desperately to tell all the important news lost in the frenzy of the daily effort to survive and thrive.
Listening to music, I recall conversations with my friend, Mike, a close friend with whom I lost touch over the years. He died December 21, 2012. I learned of his death three days later, the day before Christmas that year. I had planned to attend his funeral, but my cardiologist’s office called to say my recent stress echo had been somewhat abnormal; I cancelled my rental car and lost my one and only chance to say goodbye to a friend with whom I hadn’t spoken in fifteen years.
Other memories flood my brain, riding on a wave of music. I remember sitting on the hard futon, the one that became my bed every night for a semester in college, talking about Kinky Friedman with a girl named Patty, who thought my black bread and jalapeño sandwich was an odd choice for a sack lunch for our geology class field trip. She was from El Paso, the only person I’ve ever met who claimed that city as a home town.
Listening to “Dimming of the Day,” I remember a friend from my years in Chicago, whose eyes moistened with tears every time she heard the tune, just as mine did. But she didn’t know we shared that reaction to the music, because I was embarrassed by my response and hid it from everyone, the way I hid that response to other music that brought emotions too close to the surface for comfort.
Music unlocks something inside my brain, something that is at once a time capsule and a sleeping pill, replacing my consciousness with subconsciousness. I’ve always thought of songs as poetry set to music, so it’s not really unusual that hearing tunes from years past transport me the way poetry always has. In my head, I hear the tunes that turn poetry, even my poetry, to music. I’ve never mastered translating the noise in my head into notes for an instrument to play, though. I’ve not even tried.
There is enough sound sitting alone in a room filled with music, to transport me across time, without my personal intervention. There is no need to make efforts of my own, no reason to turn tunes in my head into sounds for anyone’s ears, not even my own.