The House that Built Me: A Musical Review

I’ve taken the literal trip down memory lane before, always alone, usually in my car. But after having some lovely jamba juice with an out-of-town friend, up north, I decided to swing through my old neighborhood, break out the stroller and visit my childhood home.

I strolled. I mused. I reminisced. Potamus slept. He also rubbed his eyes and sweated a bit, since Seattle is still reveling in 70 degree days and the long-sleeve shirt I dressed him in was much too warm. I found the quietness of the neighborhood comforting. There was something familiar about the way the sunshine streamed through the tree-branched of the fir I used to climb as a child, though much else had changed. Neighbors we had have moved on, and I’ve kept in touch via Facebook. The swing-set in the backyard is replaced with a garden and fountains and old-lady type decorations. The color is all wrong, blue instead of beige, but the address, the first numbers I memorized are still the same.

The physical act of standing where I once stood as a child was powerful. My body remembered things my mind hadn’t: the lemonade stand on the corner, the bus-stop mornings with rain dripping off the tree branches, the greenbelt we used to sled on the 1 day we’d be off from school for snow, the way the blackberry bushes overgrew the trails with signs that said “private property, no trespassing.” As I strolled past a house I was suddenly struck with the memory of a woman who hosted Christmas caroling parties, who died of a brain aneurysm, and the tedious hours spent babysitting a Power Ranger fanatic 4 year old.

I snapped pictures and realized just how innocuous a mom-with-stroller was in such a suburban cul-de-sac. Nobody batted an eye or flinched when I peeked over the fence into my old backyard, or questioned me when I snapped a few photos of myself with my house in the background. I looked like I belonged.

And I did belong.

I drove Potamus up the road a little ways to “the train park” as we called it, and pushed him on the swings. He smiled and laughed and so did I.

And all the while I kept thinking of Miranda Lambert’s The House that Built Me

I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these hand prints on the front steps are mine
Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

I’m Sensitive: A Musical Review

Oh Jewel, where have you been in the past few years? We need more of these songs:

I was thinking that I might fly today
Just to disprove all the things you say
It doesn’t take a talent to be mean
Your words can crush things that are unseen
So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive
And I’d like to stay that way.
You always tell me that is impossible
To be respected and be a girl
Why’s it gotta be so complicated?
Why you gotta tell me if I’m hated?
So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive
And I’d like to stay that way.
I was thinking that it might do some good
If we robbed the cynics and took all their food
That way what they believe will have taken place
And we’ll give it to anybody who has some faith
So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive
And I’d like to stay that way.
I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad
Then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have
But maybe if we are surrounded in beauty
Someday we will become what we see
‘Cause anyone can start a conflict
It’s harder yet to disregard it
I’d rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
Be careful with me ’cause I’d like to stay that way

When listening to this, my mind splits in two, like those picture-in-picture TV’s, and I see myself as a little girl. A shy girl, with anxiety and depression, who felt things deeply and lived in an almost dream-land. A little girl who tried valiantly to hold onto imagination and tenderness, but was misunderstood and hardened to overcompensate for the overactive conscience and empathy. It’s easy to read Highly Sensitive People information now and see myself in the descriptions. It’s easy to understand that empathy can be used, harnessed even, for a life of work in social services, but as a kid I was sensitive and it was trampled on.

The other screen is the view of my sweetly sensitive son, who reacts strongly to tone of voice, and who loves snuggling on both mama and dadda’s lap. There may be a day where he has to harden himself against portions of the world, but it is my wish, my intention, to surround him in beauty, to tell him how good he is, to remind him that he is an amazing human being, and to do my best to not crush his sense of self.

Godspeed: A Musical Review

In high school I had the pleasure of seeing The Dixie Chicks open at The Gorge for Tim McGraw. My dad was in radio, and he got us tickets that summer, where we sat in 100 degree sun on folding metal chairs feeling hoity toity (and sweltering) compared to the minions up on the grassy free-for-all seating. While we were there for Tim, I was blown away by The Dixie Chicks and have loved them ever since. One summer, at camp, we did a skit to “Earl’s Gotta Die,” which I still laugh about with my friend to this day. So driving down the road, listening to that aforementioned burned CD, I was startled to find a Dixie Chick song that I hadn’t heard before: Godspeed, another song that made me cry, with the lyrics that cut right through all of my warrior walls:

Dragon tales and the “water is wide”
Pirate’s sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

The rocket racer’s all tuckered out
Superman’s in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears “Amen,” wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Godspeed
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

The imagery takes me forward twenty something years, imaging myself dancing with Potamus at his wedding. I’m somehow both a young mother and an old mother at the same time, both recognizing the sweetness of the moment now, where I breathe in his fading baby smell as he sleeps, and aching for the stillness of his brand-newborn days. I project myself into the future, twenty, thirty, years, with maybe a bigger pouchy stomach, but an even more tender heart from the millions of moments of mother-love that will change me. And I imagine it just being Boof and I in the house again, Scummy the dog long dead, Potamus grown with a partner of his own, maybe children or dogs or neither, and I miss this moment, the one I’m in right now.

Godspeed little Potamus.
Sweet dreams little Potamus.