I remember december
and I wanna hear what you have to say about me
Inadvertently, I ended my musical fast this afternoon when my boss gave me an early Christmas gift. A Damien Rice CD.
I hadn’t really heard much of him, except what she’d told me. I don’t listen to the radio. And I don’t watch music videos; for some reason, they make me uncomfortable. Maybe if I thought about it, I could tell you why. And if I wanted to think about it, I could probably place where I had heard this voice before. And why it feels so haunting, like a blurry dream, or a déjà vu, or a smell on the street that makes you feel displaced and lonely.
If I wanted to think about it, I could probably tell you why beautiful music, in general, moves me so strongly. How it fills me up and hollows me out, all in one contradictory pulse of valves and heartbeat. Maybe I will take the time to think about this. And while I’m thinking, I’ll tell you a little more about me.
Early in life, a series of ear infections robbed me of my hearing. It was, thankfully (and obviously), treatable.
Most of my friends know this, though not in any detail.
My mother doesn’t really talk about those times; she will simply say they were very difficult. A firefighter, my father had to leave Forrest Service because it required him to be away too often. He took a job as a butcher’s apprentice. The construction of their first home was not finished on schedule, and soon one summer, their options became as limited as their income.
We lived in a tent.
I can only imagine most of this, because I was too young to remember anything with any sort of clarity. My earliest memories are only white and cold. A white pinafore embroidered with a turtle, the doctor’s office in a white brick building, his cold hands, his white clothes, and the cold metal of instruments and exam tables.
And then I remember Grieg. It’s my first memory of music, listening to The Hall of the Mountain King. Sitting on my parents’ California King, Saturday morning sunlight on the comforter and begging my mother to get up and move the needle of the record player back. I wanted to hear the drums again.
After several years of speech therapy, a now-slight lisp — which I hesitate to point out for fear you’ll listen for it — and spider-webbed scars on my eardrums are really the only reminders of that part of my life. And even if I fail to draw any clear parallel between being caught breathless by a contemporary artist like Damien Rice, and my first real sensation of music from a thundering classical suite, I’m willing to bet there is one.
Music moves me and touches me in the same way people tend to do. And often at the same time. The people and the music get stuck in your head so you will remember.
And I remember.