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…just a drum brush

March 16, 2011

Those of us who don’t harbor great resentment for our families tend to idealize family moments; at least I do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family right down to the last belch (which there never is, by the way, there are always going to be more…), but sometimes, when you’re 3,000 miles away its easy to miss things that you never really liked that much in the first place. I think that I’ve mentioned that I was raised on a diet of tortellini, spelt products, carrot juice, and jazz music, but, expectedly, other than the tortellini, I didn’t love that stuff much when I was young.

You know how it is, when you’re a kid you have to, by default, live in disgust for anything that your parents love and/or promote. It’s 12:30 am on a Tuesday and I just finished a large glass of carrot, ginger juice and I listened to KJazz the whole drive home from work tonight, so what does that tell you? We all inevitably become our parents, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

As I sped east on the 10, I reminded myself that I’m not allowed to go home unless I’m calm and thinking positively, so I turned off something mind-numbing (probably Katy Perry), avoided NPR (although I’m curious if the shift in tectonic plates that has caused the distance between California and Japan to shrink is going to mean cheaper flights to Asia…sorry, bad joke…when I get sad and uncomfortable about the state of world affairs I make jokes…it’s not a good coping mechanism. I am, and continue to be devastated at the damage in Japan), and put on kJazz. Lately I’ve been doing this a lot, and I think that its a sort of security blanket for me. The sound of a brush across a drum, or a saxophone wailing over member supported airwaves instantly brings me home, so much so that I can feel the fabric of the couches in the family room.

I started writing this with every intention of being able to articulate the feeling that listening to certain music gives me, but I suppose that was naive of me. Those feelings are too personal, too intimate, too visceral to be put into words. Alone, we can only understand the significance of a drum brush. I can tell you that when I hear it I can see the way that my dad sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth and shuts his eyes and slides the brush across the top of his drums. I can tell you about the drum set that has always lived in the basement; that when I was little all of my friends would sit and bang on the drums and create headaches, when all I was trying to do was show them how cool it was that there was a picture of my dad with Michael J Fox on the wall above his desk (not realizing how very much cooler the one of Dad and Jack Nicholson was). I can tell you that my parents used to put on this jazz record “Black Cat”, and my brother and I would jump around the living room and bounce on top of the off-white couches with the small colored ribbing in them, in our old house, and that that was the same place where I had a recurring dream about a witch who carried me away from the arm of the couch, near the weird lantern light in the living room. I can tell you that my brother and I used to dance together before my little brother was born and that we cried when he came home from the hospital because we knew our lives would never be the same.

I can tell you that I want to go home, but you and I both know that that place doesn’t exist anymore, because I live in California, file my own taxes, have four jobs, live with my boyfriend, own a car, and my parents are on either side of 60 and my brother is about to graduate from college and have a salary that I’d dance around the living room for any day, and the little baby who would change our lives forever is about to get his drivers’ license and no stroke of a brush across a drum can change time…but if you listen carefully it can transcend it.

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