Music Is Life

It’s been a while, I know, over six months. I ran out of topics I was willing to write on, getting increasingly angry at the political atmosphere, and at the horrors the news brings to me every day. I’d stopped watching the news for a while. My job is going well, now that I finally get to do it, and the car still makes me smile. The sport button is a dangerous little button. I’ve used it a few times, released my inner Mario Andretti. Probably not good on a neighborhood street with a 25 mpg speed limit…

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So what brings me here? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that we’ve lost a lot of celebrities already this year. The ones in their 80s and 90s are sad, but not completely unexpected. Same with the ones we knew weren’t well. This year was made all the more difficult for me because I had three funerals by the end of February. The oldest was 50. The first was someone who lived across the street from me, younger than I, and the second graduated high school with me. All three were breast cancer, or something related to it. I couldn’t really focus on David Bowie or Alan Rickman, both of which were great losses in my opinion; it was already too much at that point.

Don’t get me wrong, I cried over both of those, and obsessively sought Bowie videos for a couple days, but I wasn’t really there. Just coming out of a depressive episode, a winter that wasn’t winter (it showed up in April), things not going quite the way I’d like in my life, the politics all over social media, it was overwhelming. I had to shut down for a little bit just to regroup.

There were good things, too. There was a wedding of two classmates which evolved into an impromptu reunion, time spent with family and friends, a new hobby (yoga), a better sense of self. Just last week, I was in New York City. I’d never gone before. As hard as I’ve worked on it, I still have quite a bit of anxiety when it comes to unfamiliar places. I was staying with a classmate I hadn’t spoken to face-t0-face since, well, we graduated *mumblemumble* years ago, which made it worse. I was nervous. What if we didn’t get along? Sure, we talked on FB, but that’s different from spending actual time in the physical presence of someone. And if that were true, then the trip would be even worse. I’d be in a city I didn’t understand or know with no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I wouldn’t see anything at that rate.

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The Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges as seen from One World Observatory

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and I look forward to going back to hang with her dogs and her husband. He’s funny. And understands why flying cars are such a horrible idea. I even got to meet up with a couple other people, one I haven’t seen since his graduation, and one I’ve only ever met online. Plus, I learned just how I can pack enough clothes to wear AND my camera. It takes up a lot of space, and requires vacuum bags and Tetris skills. As an added bonus, my friend had a Canon and some great lenses I was able to borrow. Pretty much only used the wide angle, but for this city, that was the right lens for the job.

I felt alive for the first time in months. Like there was a reason to push forward, to doing what I love, to try new things. Maybe I’ll fail, maybe I’ll watch a couple rats wander around in a subway one late night (that was a bit surreal), but I won’t stop, shrivel up and die long before my body quits. Sort of a reminder to do what I can while I can. I think that’s when I realized this wasn’t just a high point, I was actually coming out of that episode.

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Central Park, a professional setup, possibly for a proposal or anniversary.

Then Thursday happened. April 21st, a little before 1:30, a co-worker peeked around the cube wall and asked if I was alright. I’d just come back from grabbing something to eat in the cafeteria, and was sitting down to eat. Next she told me what the big news of the moment was – Prince had died.

The bottom dropped out of my world. At some of my lowest moments, my most vulnerable, he was there. He was there with my joys and successes, too. He celebrated with me, he mourned, he consoled, and he empathized. He was, as one of my friends put it, the soundtrack of our lives. Losing him is losing a piece of myself. It’s like losing a family member, an experience I have, unfortunately, had many times. As bad as losing my mother‡? No, but it hurts. A lot. It was also the birthday of the person in the first funeral I attended this year, making the day that much more difficult.

In all the most impactful† moments of my life, there is music. Sunday mornings, mom making pancakes in the kitchen, me dancing with my father in the living room. Christmas, driving to and from college, cleaning house, it all has a soundtrack. My lows and my highs have music; it’s playing in my head when I wake up, and off in the distance when I sleep. When I’m in a good mood, I sing. When I’m in a bad mood, I sing. It’s always there. So to lose something, someone, who was such a large part of that soundtrack, it’s devastating.

I don’t know what next week looks like. I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. I only know that last night was bad, and today was better.

It’s difficult to find any of his music online. He was about as thorough as Disney when it came to protecting his copyright. Still, there are some videos out there, where you can see his mastery, his genius. No, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but damn, he’s good.

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‡I did get to see him perform live, during his Purple Rain tour. Some friends couldn’t go because their mothers wouldn’t let them. Mine went with me. She wanted to see him, too.

†Yes, I know, business-speak. I’ve been in the corporate world for a while, now. Sometimes it just sneaks out.

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