Won’t Take Nothing But A Memory

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Reading Time

Bill and I were driving somewhere last week when a song played on Spotify. As it ended, I began to think of something I had written about in the past.

“Did you hear those words?” I wasn’t surprised at his usual answer. He tunes out while driving. “No, I wasn’t paying attention to them.” I hit replay and this time he listened to the words coming from the speakers, as well as my voice as I sang them. I reflected quietly in my head and when the song finished, I commented on their meaning to me.

“This song is my parents’ house in Jersey.”

You see, in the past, about once a year or twice a year, I’d find myself yearning to go back “home.” It was usually pretty circumstantial to where I was in life and almost always coincided with the holiday season and Christmas. I would crave my family and our traditions most. I garnered strength from memories surrounding them.

During these trips, songs would pop up randomly and hit me like a ton of bricks. It seemed as though they were trying to heal whatever hurt I felt at the time, often specifically relating to my previous marriage and the chaos I lived. One year, the song was Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Another was Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.” This is the song I replayed that day driving with my husband.

The words to this song ring true inside me still now, despite it having been almost a year since I last stepped foot in my hometown. When life becomes unmanageable, I tend to run back home. Most often unsure of what exactly it is I am seeking, I always know the “house that built me” will bring intense comfort, even if only for a short time.

I thought if I could touch this place, or feel it.
This brokenness inside me might start healing.
Out here its like I’m someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself.

My mother’s love. Attention I received from those who care about me, be it my best friend from high school and her daughters, or my grandparents. My favorite comfort pizza or local family diner disco fries. A strong connection which remains even as all the years pass by. I’m grateful for the strength I feel there, for the roots of my foundation. When I’m feeling detached from who I truly am, some time in the house that built me brings me back to ground.

During this current holiday season, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas fills the void my inability to go home has created in my heart. Maybe inability is the wrong word to use. There’s no need for me to run home this year. Instead, I watch the classic with my husband and children. Hearing the familiar melody of Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen’s “Sisters” trigger happy scenes of my mother and I singing along to appear in my mind. I will always need my mother, my childhood home, and my memories. But this is the first year I can say my life isn’t unmanageable, and I am OK with that.

Music is a universal therapy, it affects all, no matter the person or the genre. Every individual finds their tune. For me, in this chaotic world we live in called Life, it’s my saving grace. If you haven’t listened to Miranda’s song, I highly suggest it. And if you don’t like her or want to hear the melody, I encourage you to at least read the words and consider their meaning. Where are the memories you need to recharge found? Maybe it isn’t your childhood home. But I do know each of us has a house like the one she describes. Maybe for you it is a mountaintop at the end of a long trail, where the wind’s tune brushes your ears. Or perhaps the ballads of birds as you fish in the peaceful early morning hours.

If you can’t go home right now, or if you’re not even quite sure where Home is anymore, I assure you this: the feeling can still be found in music.

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