As I make the relatively short 2 hour journey back to my hometown, I feel the stresses of London life lifting. I find myself thinking of the last time I made this trip, remembering how I felt, remembering how it was all such a blur and that I just wished I wasn’t making the journey alone. As I turned the corner onto my road, I could hear the gentle crash of the sea against the shore, I looked out at the view that I used to see every day, its beauty, its calming effect on me and wondered…why the hell have I waited so long to come back?!
My Mum is simply amazing and could not do more to make a fuss and welcome me home. Its breakfast time and she’s cooking me pancakes (my favorite), singing along to her Dirty Dancing CD and I’m watching the sky change all sorts of colours as the sun comes out from behind the Isle of White. I’m struck again with the question…why have I waited so long to come back?!
The magical thing with living by the sea is that the view is essentially the same but it’s almost like its alive and its constantly changing, reflecting the weather, the seasons and the passage of time. As I have grown, my view has also grown and its something I have always taken great comfort in. Whenever I am away from the sea for too long, I miss it, I need to see it, breathe in the special sea air, see the open space and I have always, always said how much I appreciate the view I have from my home. I have never, ever stayed away for so long. I went to university in the local area, lived a mere 20 minute drive from my family home and although I always knew I’d move to London, I didn’t think I’s spend months without coming home. So… why? Why have I stayed away?
As I walk with some friends down to Mudeford Key and I snap pictures of the sunset in the spot that I have always called “Proposal Point” I finally accept the answer to my question. The reason I have stayed away for so long is because…everything here, everything about home and all I see when I look around are memories. There is an empty hole, that was once filled with a guy whose photos are still all over may room, whose clothes still hang in the wardrobe and whose shaver still rests on my sink.
I was struck with the realisation that we lived far longer as a couple here, “back down South” than we did anywhere else. Memories of our life together are far more prominent here and by being in London, I have escaped from that and been able to move forward. Being back home was like stepping back to months ago, when we were together, happy and unable to imagine not being “us”.
We spoke on the phone and I ended up in tears, telling him all the things I’d been remembering over the last few days. He was surprisingly understanding and related to all I was feeling, sharing with me his memories and moments since we split that have caught him by surprise.
I am far too sentimental for my own good and see “moments” and “times” in all corners of my home and I think I knew deep down, I’d struggle with coming back. When I was home before, I saw through blurry eyes and didn’t look around at the reminders quite as I do now. I think I also felt that if I’d come back before now, I’d have ended up wanting to stay. I needed the time to pave my own path in London and build a life for myself, make friends and discover new interests.
Although I realise these reminders won’t just “go away”. I have now at least faced up to them once, and hopefully each time I come back, I will contemplate our life together less and just live mine as it is now. I guess I just need to give time, time but know that it is also normal and healthy to remember.
I am always amazed by the capacity music has to evoke so much emotion and affect how you feel so easily. Music holds a million memories. I often hear songs and immediately get transported to that time in my life when I was first listening to it, university days, travelling the world, a single moment in time when your eyes meet his across a room… Music allows you to relive these moments and remember things you haven’t thought about in months, sometimes years!
A song’s power over your thoughts and emotions is more often than not, positive. I’m one of those people who will listen to something, remember a happy memory and beam from ear to ear as I walk down the street! It makes the arduous, robotic, monotony of the “daily commute” enjoyable and time passes so much faster.
However, there are occasions when listening to music is more like…slowly torturing yourself! It can flood your thoughts with memories that your heart cannot handle. It creates a constant film playing in your head of happy times that are easier to just block out or that are simply too raw to remember.
I need music throughout my day. It usually lifts my spirits, distracts me and gives me an artificial soundtrack to my life in which I can lose myself and drift off. I like to daydream as well as reminisce, just get lost in my head. Music has always been a passion but in the past two years, it has become more a “way of life”. Every day I listen to it, new music, old favourites, whole albums. I read music Blogs and share new music with friends. I managed a band for around 18 months who filled me with passion and made me appreciate the finer details in the music, what makes a song go from “alright” to “special”. I like travelling on my own because it gives me time with my music, which ultimately feeds my thoughts. I love that time to just “be”. I love to talk about it, share ideas, opinions. My main use of twitter used to be to discover and share news and advances in the industry (however this has recently not been the case)!
So…where am I going with this…that listening to music has been…a challenge lately? Absolutely. It’s been done with a heavy heart, reluctantly and I’ve had to force myself to “tune in” and “zone out”. But its been a challenge worth taking on…something I felt I needed to “force” myself to do.
Recently, a woman told me her husband died and for 7 years she could not listen to music. Nothing. It had that strong affect on her emotionally. This is obviously an extreme example but it got me thinking about the power music has and in turn, how I could use music and these thoughts and memories to…help me.
It has been a strange experience because, on the one hand, listening to my favourite bands has been almost impossible, I’ve often started listening to a song and quickly had to change it or turn the iPod off altogether! Arcade Fire’s “Crown of Love” is an example of a song, full of emotion that before Christmas, I could deeply empathise with and relate to. The Nationals “About Today” actually made me feel sick, I could feel everything he was singing about and it allowed me to hear my deepest worries out loud. I decided I’d download Radiohead’s entire discography and just let it play (a band I’ve never fully appreciated) and lost myself in my head. Yet on the other hand, it has been a positive escapism too. Listening to songs that indulged in my feelings was, in a weird way, exactly what I needed. It’s like hearing everything you can’t stop yourself from thinking, being sung in a poetic and often deeply honest manner that it is actually…comforting. You’re suddenly not “alone” and someone else is sharing in what you are feeling.
Music is magical. Listening to these songs now, even though only a relatively small period of time has past, my mind does not react the same way and it’s once again uplifting. I put on “Crown of Love” last night and thought of nothing except that it would be a lovely song to dance to, I want to be spun around and held! It no longer held the…emotional attachment, the hope that it did just a few weeks ago.
Listening to a wider range of my favourite bands has also reminded me of the many amazing times I had with “that guy from across the room”. Each song, everything, seems to hold some memory for me, some forgotten joke or moment or…argument even. I guess I have realised that…it’s OK, that for a while it is just how it’s going to be. Certain songs will probably forever flood my mind with thoughts of “us” but they are welcome memories and they deserve to be remembered.
They will also hopefully hold new memories, new moments with new and old friends and if I just stop listening, then I’m depriving myself from letting music in, stopping it from sweeping me away and taking over my mind…It’s a passion and a need that don’t think I would be able to live without.
To set the scene… I am sat at about 1 am, with a glass of wine, tears in my eyes and I hear this for the first time. Possibly the most unbelievably “close to the bone” album that I could possibly listen to. My ex boyfriend has returned to our flat and wants me to listen to it, will think I can relate to it. I do.
Have you heard it? No?…then please listen. It certainly seems a massive leap away from songs on their first album such as “5 days time” and “Jocasta” which are fairly standard mellow commercial tracks that got the Noah and the Whale name out there and pleased the label enough to justify a second album.
But this second album…what an album. It is rare you find a whole album that you can listen to start to finish but…this is one of those albums. From the moment it begins you can tell it is going to be a lot darker and deeper than its predecessor. On this first listen, I didn’t know the context or the history of the album. I was open to hearing it and curious as to why my ex boyfriend thought it would touch me so much. It is part of a “greater-whole” and there is also a film on DVD which I have not yet watched because at the moment I’m enjoying the scenes I see in my head. However, on the first listen, I immediately felt that it was part of a movie sound track. Emotive, and deeply honest, the tracks all make you feel something and you are compelled to listen, drawn in by the soft vocals and simple yet…somehow epic melodies. There is lots of long notes on strings and heavy piano that build and drop back down taking you on a journey. I could picture each scene intensely and I could relate to everything being sung about.
I don’t want to “review” the album…that would be a little pointless seeing as this was released in 2009 and their 3rd offering is out this year. However, I do think that if you haven’t listened to it, take the time to do so! If they are a band who you have ignored or let pass you by, find some time for them and particularly this album (although I haven’t heard number 3!). They are bloody great musicians and even with all my emotional attachments aside; if you just want to find yourself a new band, a new album to listen to…please give this one a go! I would be amazed if it didn’t grab you.
However… if you, like me, are walking around with a broken heart, unable to get it out of your mind, you might take comfort in the lyrics. Almost every song says something to me that makes my skin tingle and that floods me with those feelings again. I don’t know…it might not be the most helpful thing to you! But for me, it does help. Its poetic, dramatic, descriptive and real. There are lyrics that relate to anyone who has ever had their heart broken and lead singer, Charlie Fink sings of moments and scenes we have all had with people we are losing. It might hurt too much to listen, but it might also make you feel less alone. And if you ever just need to cry and feel all the things everyone else tells you to distract yourself from, then indulge in The First Days of Spring. Let yourself feel those things. Sometimes, that is what we need.
MY TOP THREE TRACKS (although I really do love them all)
The First Days of Spring