Sunday, May 18, 2014

memory-testing the progeny

We used to rely on Death Cab for Cutie. Track two was a sacred tune, one that we promised--her panel, that is--we would never tire of, nor complain of its constant refrain. We were bound by that song; we knew it by heart and praised its very existence.

"I Will Possess Your Heart" was burned into our car's CD player. I expected some day the abuse would send us desperately to an online retailer to overnight a replacement. Enduring one full day without its powers was unthinkable. Plain bad parenting was what it was.

This track was the only sure fire way to coax--nay, force--our daughter to cease her incessant screaming during a car ride. When played, the brief glissando that begins the song lifted up a few notes and caught hold of her little mind. I'll never forget how her head would shake back and forth, as if a hypnotist were guiding her subconscious. Her eyes would relax for a beat and she'd focus forward in a dreamlike state, while the adult riders would take a deep breath--like I just did, remembering--and we'd continue forward for 8 minutes and 31 seconds. It was heaven when it worked. And it did enough that everyone swore by its powers.

While she grew inside my belly, Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie's 6th album was released. I soon became a fan, listening to it full blast in my car, often repeating track two again and again. After entering the outside world, she soon let us know that the confines of the carseat did not suit her. In desperation, my sleep-deprived brain happened on what would become our salvation: she remembered and was calmed by her in utero listening sessions. Gobsmacked, I was.

Now that she's older, a car ride is a matter of getting somewhere, not a caged-in scream hole where eardrums go to die. The song has not been played for years. On a lark, I decided to cue up the track during a recent playful dance party in our living room. The thrum of the first beats rung out, while the heartbeat of the bass cast us forward. My mind swept back in time. I smiled. Nothing will ever let me hate that song.

The kid didn't recognize it. I'd inquire, every so often, if she remembered it. She'd shake her head, asking, "when are the words going to come?" A little disappointed, I decided to believe that the tune must be deep in the recesses of her subconscious, like nursing, like learning new words, like being an infant, like just trying to survive each day and move forward.

Or maybe I'm projecting.

1 comment:

david silver said...

i love this post. =)