I remember the sound…

I can see my breath in the air as my gloved hands fumble for the play button. I’m indoors, if you can call the space between two rusted and dented white sheets of metal indoors, but it will take over half an hour for the slow and chugging heat to fill the car. By that time, I’ll almost be home. For now, I have a hat, gloves and a new mix CD to keep me warm.

The first few bars fill the car as I pull out of the parking lot. Already, I can feel myself relaxing, easing into the sense of rightness that this song instantly creates in me. I have never listened to it before but it feels like I have been hearing it my whole life. Of course it exists. So perfect, it fills my heart and head and leaves me unable to imagine the time, short minutes ago, before I’d heard it.

How pale is the sky that brings forth the rain
As the changing of seasons prepares me again
For the long bitter nights and the wild winter’s day
My heart has grown cold, my love stored away…


photo by me

Over the next four years, I would listen to the CD hundreds of times. I would cycle through relationships with each song, love and boredom interchangeably. Always changing with my mood, with my age, with my life. But two songs would remain, too perfect to fade.

And every time I hear those chords I’m taken back to that cold December day, shivering in the old Sunfire we lovingly called Blanche, my soul melting into the piano, violin and Allison Krauss’ beautiful voice. My heart hooked on each word that told it’s own story.

I remember. I remember the sound of November and December, the melancholy created by that time of year, a juxtaposition of holiday joy and sadness. I remember a 5am bus to Toronto, watching the rain against the window. I remember the first lines of a song.

I should know who I am by now
I walk the record stand somehow
Thinking of winter
The name is the splinter inside me, while I wait…

I should know who I am by now. The words haunt me still. Each year I’m brought back to this song and the fact that I do not know. I remember thinking that I was following that path, on the road to figuring it out. Who I am. What I want. Where I belong.

This November I feel even further from this. The song has changed again, and it is now a dull ache reminding me that I have not gotten far on this journey, that I’ve been derailed or detoured or taken too many breaks and now I’m too late. Or that maybe I was going the wrong way all along and I’m not even close anymore.

photo of my sister, by me

The first song is Get Me Through December by Allison Krauss, the second is Winter by Joshua Radin. The mix CD, which I call the December CD, was a gift from my Dad and remains one of my favourite presents ever.

9 Comments

  • By Chandra, December 1, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    you give me goosebumps…here’s a thought: I think many people never figure out who they are and where they are going. Enjoy the journey, its what counts. :)

  • By Kit, December 1, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

    Of course it exists. So perfect, it fills my heart and head and leaves me unable to imagine the time, short minutes ago, before I’d heard it.

    Your writing makes my breath catch, though I know that is by no means consolaion for what you feel. I know that before too long, you’ll look back on your life and be amazed at what you’ve done. Really. It is impossible not be amazed by you.

  • By Faebala, December 1, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

    I agree with what’s already been said. I mean, think back on your past - even though you’ve always been trying to figure out who you are, you can look back and say, ‘Oh, I was that punk girl then.’ or, ‘That’s when I was a journalist.’ People are always changing, always growing - why limit yourself to one label? And even more important - why waste time trying to fill in the blank line on that label, instead of just taking advantage of the fact that you “ARE”.

    You’re far too amazing, have done far too much, and have far too much ability to go even further to be just one person. So let your imagination run wild, bella-bee.

  • By Faebala, December 1, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

    Perfect timing.

    SoCo just came on:

    “Little minds let little pain burn big old dreams with little flames. And you don’t think I understand. Little holes in parachutes won’t leave you falling and if they do - it’s because you want to land.”

  • By Eleni, December 2, 2009 @ 3:02 am

    Hehe, it’s like playing “Encore” for songs with the word “winter.” (Yesterday, coincidentally, I too did a post quoting one of my favorite songs, and described playing Encore for the word “waves”). Anyway, your songs sound nice. I’ll have to look them up.

    “I should know who I am by now”… I know it’s cliche to say it, but who actually knows who they are? I don’t know how one goes about figuring out one’s life. Maybe you just have to concentrate on the “only for now”, frustrating (and frightening) as that may be.

  • By Hezabelle, December 2, 2009 @ 11:34 am

    haha Eleni, is that an Avenue Q quote or just a coincidence?

  • By Eleni, December 2, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

    There is no coincidence :)

  • By Steph, December 3, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    Is there ever a wrong way? ah heather i cant wait to see you face to face in february

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