April 10, 2013

Midnight Blue

Here's my entry for a recent Canada Writes Challenge The Song That Changed Your Life:


My Dad, a new bachelor wearing still-stiff cowboy boots, purchased the album from Woolco. We drove home in his Stingray, ripped off the cellophane and put it on the record player. We listened wordlessly.   I was 10; he was 38. Our fixation wasn't healthy.  Midnight Blue was our world.

One day my Dad came home with a new girlfriend.  Her name was Lynn and I thought she was beautiful.  She made us peanut butter Rice Krispie squares and brewed iced tea in a plastic pitcher outside on the grass.  She was vivacious and warm and she actually listened when I spoke.  

Lynn moved in with us and we still played Louise Tucker but less frequently. We made chili, skied, camped, played Scrabble.  After school one afternoon, I found a stash of empty Silent Sam bottles in the linen closet, stuffed in with the bedsheets. I was confused.

When Lynn moved out, I was devastated. My Mom had moved to New Jersey the previous year and I was still reeling from that. I loved Lynn, but she wasn't coming back.  Life went on.  We went to school, worked, grew. My Dad got a new girlfriend – Debi.  Debi didn't know how to spell her name and her designer jeans were too tight.  I thought she looked a bit like Louise Tucker - they both had the same big brown hair.

One rainy day, I was rifling through our records. Thumbing past Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Alan Parsons Project, I paused when I saw the familiar blue cover. 

It had been ages. I asked my Dad if I could put it on and his face crumpled and he looked weird.  He didn't want to listen; I could tell. We played it and it wasn't the same. The room was stale and cheerless; something was missing. I thought of Lynn and I realized that music conveys what you want or need it to. A song can change a person, it can echo a moment in time – ecstasy, devastation, loss. 

Midnight blue,
Those treasured thoughts of you.
Gone now and forever
Please, let the music play.

In Grade 10, I heard Scott Smith playing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata on the piano in the music room.  I was hearing Midnight Blue all over again and I was overcome. I thought about the power of love, the power of loss and how some things, like songs, are owned by certain moments in your life. I think about Lynn, Louise, Debi and my Dad, but most of all I think about how a ten-year-old girl learned about love.