Today I read a great post written by the one, the only, Le Clown. The post is about he and his wife’s ( Ringmistress) differences in musical taste. He’s into U2 and she prefers The Rolling Stones. It got me to thinking (dangerous, I know) about music and how important it is in my life.
From birth until age 7, I don’t remember much about music. In the old days when I was a wee child, if I were awake I was outside playing. I’m sure we had a radio and my older brother and sister probably listened to music, but I was too busy being totally engrossed in my imaginary world to pay them any attention. They were older than me, so they were more like boring adults. The only music I do remember was my dad’s music. When he would wash the car, he would play a radio and listen to old 50’s tunes. Some of those songs are still among my favorites because they remind me of him, and simpler times.
At the age of 7 I became sick. It was the second week of my third grade year when the pain in my legs became severe enough to call for a trip to the ER. After several trips to the ER and my regular doctor, they deemed me unable to do anything that would raise my heartbeat for fear of permanent heart damage. For this reason I became bed-ridden for the next 9 months.
Imagine an active seven-year-old who loved the outdoors being sentenced to bed. The worst part of all was that after the pain in my legs passed, I didn’t feel sick at all. I felt perfectly fine, yet could not even walk down the hall to the bathroom to take a bath or use the toilet. The only time I could leave the house was to go to my once a week visits to the doctor. On these trips my mom carried me in. I don’t know why we didn’t have a wheelchair, but I think it was because I was not even allowed to sit up completely; I stayed in a reclining position most of the time.
At first, my friends would stop in to see me. They would sit timidly on the edge of my bed and play a board game. This did not, however, last long. Back in this pre-video game era, kids actually played outside ALL DAY LONG. Being inside for very long was unheard of, and the lure of the outdoors called my friends away, one by one. Visits dwindled to once a week, then once a month. There was simply too much to do in the world than sit by the bedside of a pasty-white former friend.
No friends, no activity. What is a young girl to do? One thing I did is develop a life-long love of reading. Reading a book could take me places and make me forget the sameness of the four walls of my bedroom. It helped me escape my current life. To this day I am a voracious reader.
The true thing that saved me was a square box that sat on a little table beside my bed. It was a gift from my parents. The box had two small latches on the side where you could take off the top. Inside was a small turntable used to play 45’s. It was nothing more than a cheap child’s toy, but to a bed ridden seven-year-old, it was a life-preserver. This was the beginning of what I call my “Life Soundtrack”. If they ever made a movie about the life and times of Rainey, the music would start with The Jackson 5.
I would play my small stack of 45’s over and over, belting out the tunes and pretending I was on stage with Michael and his brothers. (This was his pre-weirdo days when he was a boy). He was my hero, and probably the reason I never became racist even though I was raised by racist parents. Soon I also fell for the Osmond Brothers, and I knew I would one day marry Donny Osmond or Michael Jackson.
Eventually, my doctor deemed me able to return to the world. I had to relearn how to walk, and how to control my legs that somehow doubled in length since the last time I could walk. It was also hard to return to the public world after being sheltered for so long. I often retreated to my bedroom, overwhelmed by the world that had changed so much in my absence. When I retreated, it was back to my 45’s. They were the constant that I could always count on.
Fast forward a few years. I adapted to the world but never gave up my love of music. My childhood turntable was replaced by more modern versions and radio. Rock n Roll got me through the turbulent tween and teen years; it was drugs, sex and yes, rock n roll that got me through my first memories of the childhood sexual abuse I suffered. Music pouring from the speakers soothed my aching soul and the singers sang songs that I felt were written just for me. Certain songs take me back in time and give me a taste (good or bad) of what my life was once like.
Fast forward to today, and you will see that music is still a constant in my life. When I am home alone, it is one of my CD’s, or YouTube, or, most likely, Pandora Radio that you will hear. I listen to music from every decade, from the 50’s tunes of my dad, to new music of today, such as Gotye. I like that my musical taste has evolved over the years. I don’t discard old favorites, they just get pushed down the playlist for a newer favorite.
What songs would be on your own personal soundtrack? I think I will make a musical post of my soundtrack tunes…just in case the directors in Hollywood ever decide to make a movie about me. : )