Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley


Memories could be told but not shared.

I’m not a music person. I like music, a lot, but I’m not one of those people who intuitively “gets” it. I can’t even clap my hands to the simplest of rhythms. When I took piano lessons for several months last year, I loved it, but I also sucked.

So I’m thrilled that I have kids who are very much music people. T is a whiz at the bells, B can bust a move like no other seven-year-old, and L, oh, L. L plays guitar and he programs the buttons on my car stereo to play me songs I never would have discovered otherwise, left to my own NPR-leaning tendencies.

Lately, more and more often, I’ve been leaving the familiar, serious real estate of 91.9 and perching, bird-like, in the 103.1, 97.7, and 106.7 properties. I sing along and perform the occasional off-beat fist pump. I waggle my head in a way I assume is cool. Sometimes I get teary. These scantily dressed babies, singing these songs–they sure feel a lot. It’s impressive and affecting. And anyway, the news is still there when I check back. I can be gone a week and nothings changes. The same players are making the same moves. The urgency may be more intense or less. The world is a disaster, just as it always has been. It doesn’t matter even a teeny bit that I’m not playing witness every morning on my way to work.

Songs like Stolen Dance and Sky Full of Stars are escapes from more private disasters, too, like a dear friend getting hit with a tedious diagnosis that sure is going to take up a lot of her time. Stupid world.

Stupid world – that was a pretty common theme this past month.

But then there was this. Sunday morning I looked up from washing breakfast dishes and spotted L out the kitchen window, standing in the yard, playing his guitar, and singing like no one was listening. And no one was, except the cats draped across the porch rockers. And me, through glass. “Hey, soul sister, I don’t want to miss a single thing you do…” The colors glowed, nearly at their fall peak. The grass was glittery and the haze was in the midst of evaporating. And a boy was serenading the coming day.

Middle child in the middle of my heart, that’s exactly what I needed.

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