running on empty…

Are you a music fan, really a music lover, someone who cannot imagine getting thru a single day without song ? I am , he is, my foxling is too. We live in houses filled with tunes, any kind will do. From morning ’till night, someone has something playing in the background.

Funny how songs can bring memories, happiness, comfort, pain, joy, energy, laughter, tears… any emotion I feel can be tempered by the balm of a favorite song. This morning, as I was arranging piles of school books on the counter for our day, I was listening to the usual mishmash of my iPod on shuffle. A little bit of everything, back to back. Just as I was headed to the kitchen for my ever-earlier cup of coffee, “Running on empty” began to play. This might be sad for some, but for me, it is a cool splash of water on my hot face. I remember years of listening to this song as I ran, melting  miles away in the hot sun of Corpus Christi or the cold rains of Ketchikan. Running thru my 20’s, up hills and down valleys, alone or with a friend or two insane enough to come along for the ride. I really did hate to run, but the feeling of euphoria when I stopped was enough to drive me back out, again and again.

Music also anchors me to the happy times of my childhood; which are sadly few and far between. Some songs remind me of being with my Aunt Sue, dancing in and out of her beaded curtains while her pot-loving friends braided my hair and fed me cake and sodas. Fast forward 14 years and some make me think of backpacking thru the English countryside, a water bottle filled with gin dangling from my belt clip… others bring me back to being on the boat, swaying gently with the swells; 2am and nothing but the brilliant stars shining just for me, the prow cutting thru phosphorescence and pushing always ahead. It seems everything I listen to embodies a story inside of me, and the sweet release of memories is my drug of choice now.

So for me, listening to the familiar lyrics of “Running on empty” brings a smile to my face. I can almost feel the hot sun on my sweaty brow, the foam-covered headphones of my old Walkman bouncing up and down on my ears, white Reebok filled with sand and two pair of slouch sox, pony-tail swinging in the gentle breeze… I am reminded that life has always been an interplay of bliss and pain. That I have always pushed myself to do more, become more. The only difference is that I am older now. The rest is just details.

Yesterday, after my appalling, late-night whine-fest of an e-mail was read by The Professor, he had the decency to call and try to make things better. Of course, this sent me into a fresh spasm of tears and pain. He can be so infuriating, but more often is simply a decent, good, supportive man who is trying to make the best of a shitty situation we got ourselves into and cannot extricate from without getting some cuts and scrapes along the way. I will take my fair share of the blame here, but know he does, as well. The situation is emotional, and our attitudes ebb and flow like the water we love. Always, though,he tries to put me at ease, to help me thru the pain, knowing full well that he is the cause of it all. He does it with love, finesse and decency, and for that, I am grateful. He has not, for one second, made me feel like a burden, a problem he is trying to escape. He treats me with respect and kindness, as we try to navigate these strange new waters we find ourselves in. Perhaps some days are spend merely trying not to drown, but many more are spent in contemplation and dare I say… a modicum of happiness ?

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