Listening to Alabama Shakes every dang day for weeks now, I come back to some of the same lyrics:
I feel so homesick
Where's my home
Where I belong
Where I was born
I was told to go
Where the wind would blow
And it blows away, away…
I feel far from home, and while some of that is being away from my parents’ home, and they from their ancestral homeland—I write about this, for goodness’ sake—it’s also about forming home, being at home with myself and my little family, and seeing the afterlife as a home, though it feels severed for me right now.
Music has been a kind of saving grace for me these past months as I slogged through working and being a mother at once—and these things both pushing me away from centering and being at peace, and pulling me toward a better practice of time. It’s been an unbelievable challenge, and I find myself still dealing with the ramifications of so much of the year: the tear in my body healing; the tear in my heart from all the losses, also healing, sometimes still gaping; the push and pull on my brain between ideas, teaching, writing. It’s all too much sometimes, but music has brought these things somehow into balance.
Part of what music has brought back to the fore for me has been a reckoning with my age, something the losses have marked as well. When Kayla Canedo died in that fateful car crash a couple of weeks ago, I had been lamenting my state as an old mother of a five year old and an eight month old: I looked and felt like their grandmother. My hair is starting to seriously turn gray—rapidly has been since Charlotte was born. Thinking of my sweet student meeting her death in the way she did brought me back to the mirror, recognizing each gray hair was there, earned. Kayla would never see gray hair. She was not given that opportunity. I felt for her mother, and all the things she’d hoped for her child, and then looked at my own and felt a sudden urge to be something for them, to become the best mother I could be.
Another lyric, from the Robert Glasper Experience, Meshell Ndegeocello: “I’m not perfect but my aim is true….” Listening to this line and its urgency shook me to the present moment as well. This now we live does not have to be perfect as our imaginations wish it to be—it simply has to be. And we must be in love with this moment, for in a a moment it will be gone, sifted out of our hands into the wind that blows away, away. I’m that person who watches it blow away, until the last little bit of it is gone, and I reach down and pick up some more, and start over, and over, in this moment that is forever, in the sandbox of never-ending play.