I drive a sorta busted car from 1989. It’s great for sand, wet bathing suits and my surfboard. The antenna got ripped off in the car wash so I only get one station. Today on the way in and yesterday leaving work, I heard the song Dynamite. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I heard this song twice. It is a pop station. And corporate radio would never rely on constant replays to make money…
Either way. I remember distinctly the first time I ever heard it play.I had just moved back to my family house in Ocean Pines, Maryland. 2010.
Maryland is a place where the humidity gets its own label, “red zone”. There’s mug there that’s so thick that if you don’t have air condition than there’s no sense in drying after a shower, because the air is the same as steam and the moisture won’t wipe away. But the month of June on the coast, with a certain kind of off-shore wind and especially at night…this mug it turns to balm. Balm that blends with the photosynthic plant breath coming out of the jungle wall of over-ripe trees. Balm that whiffs of salt and runs your blood like the sea. Balm that is like a fresh pink and soft blue and tender green light you wear on your skin.
I was driving my “Magic Bus”, which means the sober car. It was the end of a sweaty, smiley night out dancing. The Magic Bus usually made 2am stops off at the sea for moonlit swims, or at 8th street for a slice, or uptown near Casey’s old place for a chicken cheesesteak or other sub. My cousin Eddie and dear friend Schankel were in the bus this night and the Bus was on its way pool hopping.
The windows were down, the balm rushing in, the balm all there was. 2am satiation, the kind that comes with or without booze: from moving your body, from ocean-mug air, from rhythm and the antics of being your dirtiest self with people who get the unconditionality of friend.
Schankel’s hands went up in that cute floppy over her head way she does–I saw the blue neon facebook mobile version outline of them in my rearview mirror. And she screamed the words, I want to celebrate and live my life….
And there is the moment: etched as it on my heart, in the timeless, special way we get to relive life on the screen of our soulflow when a song comes on again and can transport us.
Who doesn’t get that?
Who needs me to explain that those etchings, those frozen moments, how they mean everything. Who else can understand the power of that precious minute: the balm caught, the dear friends, the 2am intrigue, the it’s ok to be dirty-me…34th year of my life exalted like that–as I hit a re-set button on everything, gave myself permission to start it all over again. I was single for the first time in seven years, I had left my career after a decade and burnout, I’d gone home to heal my relationship with my family, I was waiting tables again, hanging out with 20 somethings, going dancing every night like that’s all there is.
I stopped taking myself so damn seriously that summer. Started to let go, loosen up, enjoy my life. Enough to listen–no, to love–bad pophop for the first time ever. Who can get that kind of moment, that a synthed out autotuned song holds that much.
It’s one of the pinnacle reasons, the hinge moments, of why I am strong enough to be here–Southern California, without family, making new friends, training in a rehab as a therapist, starting my second year of grad school.
There are a few who really get it. Get what it’s like to hold each other as you start your whole life–either as a 20-year-old–or start it over, a decade or two–wink wink to my grls–older than that. Precious, such moments.
And still alive, deep inside. As are each and every one of them from that summer.
They know well who they are.