Both Sides Now- Joni Mitchell is a birthmother

Sometimes my emotions run so deep that words, written, or said verbally, cannot even begin to touch the depth. And in those moments I turn to music, and have been known to listen to the same song (or set of songs) again-and again-and again, until something changes or I cannot cry anymore.

I can’t write more about it. My heart is hurting too much, so I’m sharing my go-to song to express the depth of emotions that I am feeling at the news of a sweet 4 year old being ripped from her tribe, her daddy, her sister and extended family, and thrust into the confusing world of being raised by genetic strangers with a reality that doesn’t match the reality that you know in your heart.

This is a song I grew up with. My dad sang it to me as a little girl, because I loved the imagery of bows and flows of angels hair. I listened to it a thousand times before I knew that Joni Mitchell was a birthmother in reunion with her daughter. And while we may dicker about whether it was really written with adoption or reunion in mind, I’ll say that it cuts to my very soul and makes me feel the complexity of life and confusion seeing the world from the perspective of innocence, and the eyes of the ‘old soul’ who has witnessed far too much in such a short amount of time.

And so, this song is for Veronica.

Both Sides Now
-Joni Mitchell
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that wayBut now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my wayI’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

What music can you listen to repeatedly? Any mood music (sad/happy/angry/depressed) that is your go to? 

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

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.