Miles from our destination, (possibly my whole childhood), in the car with my mother, the music kept the wheels turning. Frank Sinatra and Lorrie Morgan asked, “How do you keep the music playing?” Indeed, that was always the question. From the start.
We skipped ring around the rosie until we all fell down. We got up again and sang. London Bridge fell down and we kept singing. Musical chairs were set up and taken away one by one until the music stopped, but we never believed it would ever really end. When I started school, Mr. Iverson, the music teacher told us that we all had a song in us. Could it be true? He told us to write a poem, and he would pick the best one, write it on the chalkboard, and we would make it into a song. He picked mine. “Houses, houses, houses red – in it is a pretty bed. Houses, houses, houses green – in it is a pretty scene.” I was 7 years old. The music played so beautifully and promised forever in my ears. There was hope in each record played at the school dance. Such empathy after each heartache. How did the music know what I needed? It always did. Does. And it keeps playing. With me on walks in familiar and strange lands. In front of paintings and paint brushes. On airplanes and bed pillows. The song asks, “Since we know we’re always changing, how can it be the same?” How? If I still remember the song from First Grade, did it really pass? Did I really change? Can this much time have gone by? It was just a few songs, and a million years.
Happy New Year, they will sing in just a few hours. Another year. And the music is still playing. I turn it up and sing with all my heart. I remember and my heart dances and prays to slow it all down. Play the song slowly, again. And again.
We went to see my mother-in-law today. She’s 94. She has forgotten names and places, but when she travels to years before, her head sways and she sings. She knows every word. I hear the music and I am 5 and 7. I am in gymnasiums and cars. I am alive. Filled with the blues and the rock and all that jazz. The wheels keep turning and Frank and Lorrie sing, “With any luck, then I suppose, the music never ends.”