catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 11 :: 2012.05.25 — 2012.06.07


Celebrate me home

I hear the song before I open my eyes, before I am even conscious.  Nearly every morning I make the transition from sleeping to waking via a song in my head.  Some days, it is a new song, and if I remember it after brushing teeth and getting dressed, I will sit at the piano and write it down.  Sometimes, though, it is an old song — a song from my girlhood, the kind of song that most quickly stirs up the ember-glowing ache of nostalgia.

My sisters are nine, ten and eleven years my senior, so I listened to the music they listened to, whether in our home or driving in the family car (a green 1970s Dodge Dart, and, later, a white Ford LTD).  This meant Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” or Kenny Loggins’ “Whenever I Call You Friend.”  It meant top-ten hits from The Supremes; Stevie Wonder; Elton John; Earth, Wind & Fire; and all things Motown.  Any song from my first, say, eight or nine years of life brings me to nearly unbearable yearning for something irrevocable.  I think it’s a kind of homesickness.

On a late-October Monday morning, the song I awoke to was “Celebrate Me Home” (another from Kenny Loggins).  That day, no harm had come to me, yet I felt bruised, tender in spots.  I know the song did it to me, but I still cannot explain why, how or what happened.

That Monday morning, with the song still in my head and myself still in pajamas, I went down to my dinette window and saw the sunrise beginning. In the other half of the sky I could still see stars, and I wondered at this. I could see the Big Dipper, which is about the only constellation I can identify. To the left: stars. To the right: sunrise, causing color layers to spread upward from the hill’s silhouette. Sunrise is not just yellows and oranges, but blues, too.  And inside I heard over and over those notes and soulful voices singing the lyrics: “Please, celebrate me home.  Please….”

Watching the sunrise is not like watching water come to boil. Sunrise happens quickly. When I looked back to the left the stars were already dimmer than even a moment before. I began to panic. Soon I would not be able to see them at all. The sunrise could not continue without the stars going away. Each time I looked to the sunrise on the right, then left back to the stars, the stars were harder to find. I would look in the wrong part of the sky and think they were gone, then with a tiny shift of the eyes and I would see them again. Relief. Not gone yet.

“Please, celebrate me home.  Please….”

But I wanted to see the sunrise, too. It made the trees and houses look black (I love Gerald May’s phrase “radiantly black”). Everything is beautiful in silhouette black: the aspen tree with its two remaining leaves, the neighbors’ houses.

But the silhouette time does not last, and neither do the stars. I hung in the magic in-between time when I could see both.

That may explain the power of songs in me.  Music is a representation of the “now” life, with its staccatos, dynamics and varying cadences and chord progressions.  At the same time, music is a crescendo that tugs me upwards to the heavenly Home I long for.

“Celebrate!  Celebrate!  Celebrate me home!”

No less potent now than when I was a girl, songs sustain me in this in-between time when, with every day, my longing for Home intensifies, just as every morning I ride a song from sleeping to waking.

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