The thing most interesting about relationships is how they come in all sizes, shapes, and sounds. When I think about social media, I don’t immediately conjure thoughts of finding deep, meaningful relationships with strangers. The flaw in that comes from thinking of fellow human beings as “strangers.” Social media is words; words accompanied by something visual. In the words, though, is that person’s life – – their pain and fear and hope, their prejudices and self-doubt, their very bones, either strong and whole or forever weakened by many breaks, large and small. For me, their words have a sound, a musical style. In something as short as a Facebook status update, I know the musical accompaniment of your life. Your writing tells me.
Back when I began blogging and was more active, I made my way around to other blogs, commenting and meeting new people. I was breathless at all the new, exciting sounds, the music blaring from every corner. Over here was one of my favorites, a blog with a soft, sad melody playing very low, buried under the sounds of lively, friendly folk music. So many of the people are tone-deaf to the low sound, it goes by unnoticed. But I hear it.
Just over there is another favorite, writing so pure and honest, I feel pierced through the heart with the heat of its light. Each time it takes my breath away, but I come back again and again because I need the pain to remind me how much better I could be.
Right here, though, is one that encompasses us all. The music blares out over the high stone walls of Good Day, Regular People, drawing us all in together where, at 7:00 a.m. on a crisp, sunny morning, we can’t help but all fall in line behind Alexandra Rosa’s big band as it bounces and jerks its way down Disneyland’s Main Street.
Her music draws us together, the ziiiiiiiip of the trombone, the rapid tap-tap-tap of the drums. We enjoy the gifts of our lives, sometimes dancing in sync with others, sometimes pulling away to let our hearts guide our own dance. As with life, there will always be a downbeat in the music, for just a moment, before the nudging wind-up into the next upbeat. In those moments, our breathing stops and our heart stops beating as the joy and happiness is ripped from our bodies, we struggle to keep moving, to keep up, to not lie down there with our tears and die.
But the upbeat brings us back, we jerk as we throw ourselves back into the procession, letting our souls be lifted again by the trombones, our hopes bouncing around atop the colorful balloons that bob and weave through the parade. Someone takes a needle with huge, bright red string, as thick as shoelaces, and with big, wide stitches they sew up the pieces that remain of our hearts, something we can squeeze and rest our cheek on as we smile and laugh, our feet moving in time with the beat.
It’s true I wish my own music was this pure, this full of goodness and joy, but it’s enough to know that someone else’s is. Maybe if I spend enough time here, my own music will begin to change. I’m deaf to my own music, but I know it must be something like the music to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Not that we don’t need that music, too, but I suppose the entire purpose of its existence is to want to be the big band music.
The cafe is just over there to the left, red and pink and white carnations in tall milk glass vases on every outdoor table. My favorite flower, I can smell them as we all bounce by, thinking maybe I should have stopped there a moment for some of their ice cream. But another time…I’m sure I’ll be back this way again.
As we approach the round-about, I smile and wonder how many times the bandleader will circle around it before heading down the main turnoff. I want to explore down each street that intersects it, but I’m afraid if I do the band may move on without me. I must come back, there’s a gorgeous emporium right over there, and a bookshop across the street. Maybe when I do, I’ll finally be ready to buy that enormous red hat with all the feathers.
As we make our way back along Main Street, I realize suddenly that the crowd is thinning out, there seem to be fewer of us following the band to the end of the line. It’s easier to make out individual faces now, and we smile at each other knowing we will stay to the end, we simply can’t give up the joy of the music.
Finally we all hear the change in the music, the subtle winding down of the tempo, like the trombone is running out of gas and sputtering as it takes us to our destination. And as we turn to take a final look back down Main Street, we see brightly colored balloons along the sidewalk storefronts, and further down the street you can make out someone in blue-striped overalls quietly sweeping aside the bits of life’s atrocities into a tidy rubbish bin, destined to return to the earth where time will bury our sins.
Such gratitude I have for this gift of music, given by strangers. Strangers that flow together, clashing like cymbals, accompanying each other in jam sessions, playing a long, slow dirge for those we miss. As for me, I’m not in the band quite yet.
I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end
– Kurt Cobain