I mark the adventures of life in many ways, one of them being through the songs I hear in the midst of them. Often lyrics of songs relate to my life circumstances. Maybe it’s coincidence, or maybe it’s that ever-analytical teacher brain of mine working overtime to connect life and literature.
Whatever the case, here is a fun little journey through some songs from my last 9 months of wandering from city to city…to city (btw, I still can’t get over my 3 cities in less than a year thing, plus it turns out I can only live in metropolitan areas that start with an “s”):
The Avett Brothers – The Perfect Space ~ We’ll start here, at the Bohemian in West Seattle, enjoying a day of rest and journaling. The brothers sing through my headphones, “I wanna fit in/to the perfect space/feel natural and safe in a volatile place.” This is an over-arching theme of life, one sentiment that keeps on giving as the growing pains keep coming. That day I mused on how I must continue to persevere even if things don’t work out, and now in SLC, I continue to do so…
Arcade Fire – Empty Room ~ Last summer became the summer of The Suburbs. I love that album, and I listened to it non-stop with the windows down, through the U-District to Madison Park and back during my days of house-sitting. I had a good deal of alone time that summer to reflect on life and the direction it was headed, and the lyrics “I’m alone again/When I’m by myself/I can be myself/And my life is coming/but I don’t know when” resonated with me as I continued into the unknown.
Brett Dennen – San Francisco ~ So then, during that time, I got the job in San Francisco, and this song kept coming up on my ipod when I had it on random. Brett Dennen is singing about starting a new life in SF without this girl, and he is also paying tribute to a great city – “I’m gonna rent me an old Victorian/Down in the Lower Haight/I’m gonna find me an old accordion/Play for the tourists on the golden gate.” Of course, this made me pretty excited, especially since I had never even visited. I was going to live in SF!
Sufjan Stevens – Heirloom ~ As mentioned in earlier posts, things didn’t turn out so well there. There were sweet times though. There is a cliff that overlooks these bathhouse ruins which extend into the endless ocean. I really miss that place. One morning I got up early and drove down the coast, and discovered it for the first time. I stopped and parked at the top, plugged my headphones in and walked through the tall trees to a hidden nook at the edge of the cliff. The morning was foggy and calm. The Pandora Station started playing this song, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I felt then that God was saying to me “and when you walk inside i feel the door /i’ll never let it push your arms no more /and when your legs give out just lie right down/and i will kiss you till your breath is found.” In it, I found resolve to deal with the mess around me and to know that Jesus was caring for me and giving me strength to deal with it.
Arcade Fire – Half Light II (No Celebration) ~At first I just thought it was funny that during this whole moving to SF ordeal, I kept hearing songs talking about San Francisco, but as I have listened to it since leaving there, it really is interesting how the opening lines in some way fit my life circumstances: “Now that San Francisco’s gone/ I guess I’ll just pack it in/ wanna wash away my sins/in the presence of my friends.” I left SF a little worse for the wear, but I made it here, and I feel that I am already flourishing in the light and love of my new friends.
Florence + The Machine – Dog Days Are Over ~ I listened to this in the airport on the way out of SF, and I hear it alot now as I gasp for breath running around Sugar House Park. What a great song. It’s encouraging and motivating, and it carries a tinge of the bittersweet: “Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father/run for your children for your sisters and brothers/leave all your love and your longing behind/ you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.” I miss my home, I miss my family, but God has called me elsewhere, and I can’t be sentimental. It’s been a breath of fresh air to be in SLC, and though the dog days will come back at some point (I would be naive to think otherwise), here I have found some reprieve for a little while, and I am loving it.