Immersed in Music

Immersed in Music

I sit here clicking keys on my computer, listening to the melody of my own rhythms, trying to make sense out of my new life. The stereo is playing the soundtrack from The King’s Speech, a gentle score, light and airy; music that mimics the restrained, impetuous, and sometimes flawed moments of love. It begins with a great deal of sadness, but the piano riffs quickly bring me back to my childhood, dancing in a pink tutu and white ballerina slippers, waving my arms gracefully at my side, remembering the dance steps I once knew so well. I twirl around thinking about a time in life without sorrow, without tragedies—a time without regrets.  When I stop the repetitious motion, my world continues to spin and I close my eyes for balance.   

It’s a holiday weekend, July 4, one that previously was celebrated at our cabin in Munds Park—a place I didn’t want to visit this weekend, and maybe not for a while. There are too many reminders of the past. I’d rather sit in my house blasting Aimee Mann’s music or listening to K.D. Lang bellowing out a love song from her Hymns of the 49th Parallel CD.  I ache for the music of Warren Zevon; songs about loss and how he wants to be remembered by his loved ones. Warren and I sing a sweet duet with AMOR DE MI VIDA, and PLEASE STAY. I shout out the words, mostly out of tune, but I don’t care. It feels so good to let go. I listen to the sexy music, I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen, and Things Have Changed by Bob Dylan. I play the desired track over and over again like some woman gone mad, wanting to drown myself in the lyrics as if was my mantra. Perhaps if I hear the words enough, I might begin to believe them.  

I rummage through my CD’s looking for my husband’s favorite songs sung by Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and Willie Nelson and wonder why I didn’t appreciate these artists more when he was alive. I find myself lost in the beauty of their voices.   Their music takes control of me; my knees weaken with desire; the soft melodies remind me of making love. I sob for all I’ve lost. I ache for romance, something to take away my grief. And it’s my music, not a counselor or a drug that will save me from the past and direct me to the future.  

I go out on dates searching for something I no longer have. I let my suitors choose the music we listen to, as if it was a prerequisite for a second, third, or fourth date. If someone I’m with pulls out a favorite CD from his bag of tricks, and it’s Sinead O’Connor’s TROY, with lyrics “I’ll remember it \ And Dublin in a rainstorm \ And sitting in the long grass in summer \ Keeping warm \ I’ll remember it”, I become dizzy with love.  

I’m an addict to my memories, which I try and recreate with others, but it seldom works. By the end of the evening I’m driving myself home in tears blasting KEEP ME IN YOUR HEART, and feeling more alone than ever. Nothing and no one seems comfortable like an old sofa, a soft pillow, or a flannel blanket one keeps for years.

And so, once again I’m home before midnight, after listening to my date whisper sweet things in my ear while we play a love song by Billie Holiday. He breathes heavily. I smile while listening to what he’s saying in his deep, sexy voice—a slightly higher pitch than my husband’s, so I’m immediately distanced by the difference in tone. I allow him to continue and I wish I could reciprocate, say something sweet in return; be swept off my feet, be intimate, but it’s too early and I’m not quite ready to give myself away. Or maybe I haven’t found the right music, the artist who tells me it’s alright to feel again, it’s alright to love again. For now, I still belong to someone else.

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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2 Responses to Immersed in Music

  1. Mareen says:

    Your words are beautiful and hit so close to home as the 2nd anniversay of my sweet Eric’s passing approaches. I too have a place in Munds Park. I just was there this weekend with my kids (only the 3rd time since his passing). I thought I wanted to sell the place but after being there with my kids, I am reminded of the dreams that we had for that place and our plans for the future. We are a trio now, still a family and I’m going to make new memories with them. It is different without him but life is still good. I wish many blessings upon you. Mareen

  2. Ann says:

    Somewhere in the loss of my husband I was no longer listening to music. A couple of years after his death I was traveling on an airplane, it turned out the gentleman sitting next to me was a classical composer on his way to Phoenix to meet with the Phoenix Symphony. This chance encounter inspired and reminded me to bring the music back into my life. A true gift. Alas, there are songs I may never be able to listen to again as the longing to be with my husband is too great. Having music back in my life is wonderful and nourishing.

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