I have often thought that my life ought to have its own soundtrack. At many points in my life, I have felt that there was a current theme song. It's never the same one for very long -- a few months, occasionally an entire year -- and rarely does the same song repeat. Even when I return to a similar "place," it's different enough to need a new song. Sometimes they are songs that I love; occasionally they are even songs that I hate, but identify with anyway. In some cases, only a single line or paragraph resonates; occasionally the entire song seems to have been custom written for me. For the past year, I've thought, on and off, about compiling a list, and it seemed an appropriate thing to do for my landmark post.
Some of these songs are the ones I actually thought of at the time as my theme-of-the-moment; others ought to have been, but they hadn't been released yet. And since many of them mean something different to me than they might to you, explanations have been added -- or not -- at my whim.
Itsy Bitsy Spider (traditional) I loved this song when I was little. I sang it overandoverandover. I was fascinated with that spider. No many how many drenchings he got, he didn't give up. He just waited for the sun to dry him out, and started over. Kinda neat, for an arachnid.
Cat's in the Cradle (Harry Chapin & Sandra Chapin) My dad and I have always had a pretty good relationship. Very little of the intense arguing that happened with him and my brothers, or me and my mother. Nor was he in any way an absentee dad; but he did work a lot. On days he worked at home, he was likely to be closeted away in his office for most of the day. At some point I realized that I was like him in many ways -- personality, habits -- far more than I was like my mom. (It's a bit odd to realize that you're actually turning into your dad and your mom. )
My Dear Ima (Suri Berman) My mom and I fought a lot, but I always knew that she loved me; that one of the strongest dreams she had was developing a relationship with me like the one she had had with her mother. Sadly, as an obnoxious pre-adolescent and then teenager, I was not entirely cooperative. One of the best things that happened in my life in the past 10-12 years is the gradual shift to the relationship I now have with my mom.
Oyfin Pripitchik (By the Hearth) musicsung by Jan Peerce The schools I attended were a far cry from the village cheiders (one-room schoolhouses) of Europe, but the warmth, light, and love of Torah was certainly still found in the classrooms of my youth.
Don't Let Me Get Me (Pink & D. Austin) I was not the nicest teenager. (I like to think I've mellowed since then. Please don't disabuse me of the notion. ) The wonder is that no one decided to squish me . . .
Tradition (Sheldon Harnick) music Probably a big part of why I stayed pretty much under control, was the clear boundaries I had. Not only were my parents consistent and reasonable in their expectations, the standards of my religious community were fairly clear as well. Not to say that I never rebelled against them; but that in most cases, I managed to bend rules rather than break them.
Goodnight My Someone (Meredith Willson) One aspect of the community's expectations that I was all for was getting married. I used to sing this song often at night. It was something in between a dream and a prayer. (Of course, there were the ever-so-helpful adults who advised me that when I started to date I not act too smart, talk about the weird stuff I was into (sf&f, especially Star Trek), or otherwise scare potential candidates off by being too much myself.)
Sunrise, Sunset (Sheldon Harnick & Jerry Bock) music: harpjazz Getting engaged to a really nice guy -- who was perfectly happy with my intelligence, and was also partial to some of the same "weird stuff" I liked -- shortly after my 18th birthday, fit in nicely with my dreams. The fact that he kept trying to extend the length of our courtship concerned me, but I assumed that one he finally committed to me, any worries on that score were over. We survived the engagement, and happily started our married life. He had a good job, and I started college, with the goal of becoming a science teacher.
quote:When you hold a brand new baby You need tender hands to guide them on their way You need hands to thank the Lord for living and for giving us this day
Before our second anniversary, we became the parents of a sweet baby girl. Balancing school and motherhood -- and deciding just how much balancing I was or was not willing to do -- was challenging, but ok.
Al Kol Eleh (Naomi Shemer) words in Hebrewmusic In many ways, I think this may have been the most idyllic time of my life. I had a husband who cherished me for many of the same characteristics others had deemed unacceptable, and who I idolized in turn. I had a beautiful, fairly easy-going baby, who I adored. And school was interesting, and fairly manageable. True, my husband's job required long, unpredictable hours, but that was all part of the balancing act.
A couple of years went by, both of us so busy balancing our individual responsibilities that we spent less and less time together. Trying to carve out a set time to spend together during the week was difficult when he often had last-minute crises at work. I was pregnant again, and tired all the time. We started snapping at each other more, and he started spending less time at home, hanging out with friends and staying late at work more often. Mildly concerned at the subtle problems we sensed, we started seeing a therapist. We figured we just needed the equivalent of a "tune-up" -- a little help, nothing serious. At first, seeing her seemed to help.
quote:Life is just what happens to you while you're busy making other plans
We had a son. We had stopped seeing the therapist right around my due date. Since the baby was actually born almost two weeks late, and I had a fairly difficult recovery, it was three months before we saw her again. We went back reluctantly, since it seemed therapy had stopped helping, and might actually be making things worse. After a few months, we agreed that it was no longer a good idea, and stopped seeing her. But we had dealt with some issues, and learned some techniques, and we figured we were ok.
Ob La Di Ob La Da (Beatles) Most of the time, things were fine. Hectic, but fine. I finished up my degree. My husband had gone back to school to complete his never-quite-finished degree, and finished about the same time I did. I swore we were never going to both be in school at the same time again; and was quite happy with a break from taking classes. So he started on his masters, and I started teaching.
When Doves Cry (Prince) With two kids, I expected him to help more around the house. But between his job and classes, not to mention all the volunteering he kept doing, he was home less. Even when he was home, he was too tired, too busy. Gradually, more tension, less talking; a pattern that spiraled quickly. We were referred to a therapist who was a bit unusual, but highly recommended. She lived elsewhere, but came into town a couple times a year. Over the course of two very intense days, she worked with each of us individually, then both of us together. She was as amazing as advertised, and I began to hope again.
You're Still The One (Shania Twain) Relief and renewed love -- a wondrous combination that got us through a miscarriage and a new pregnancy. But as I got more tired and needed more help, he was there less and less. At work all the time -- except when he was at friends' houses, or dealing with another of the many commitments he kept taking on, in spite of my concerns. The more I asked for, the less he was there.
Well, Hello Little Stranger (Ashira)
quote: Well, hello little stranger, entirely new Only born an hour ago. Just look at you. Open up your sleepy eyes a glimmer or two. Hey there, can you see me? I'm the one who'll be here, taking care of you. And all the future shines in your faraway smile And I'll be there to guide you as you find your way. And all the things that I will do for you, Are things you're gonna do, for children of your own some day.
But one thing we still agreed on, and that was our kids. With the birth of another girl, we now had three.
Zing Faygele Zingmusic I listened to this song a lot right around then. It was one of my kids' favorite songs (especially my oldest, whose middle name is Fagya ).
quote:Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone
I could feel him pulling away from us; spending even less time at home, and not really present even when he was there. Everything I tried seemed to make things worse. I kept trying to get us back into therapy, even saw the therapist who had been so helpful before. He didn't see the point, but was fine with me going.
quote:And I'm so sorry that I've fallen Help me up, let's keep on running Don't let me fall out of love
But it takes two. One of our two was never willing to talk, and made an art of denial and avoidance.
quote:keep holding my hand So we don't get separated
But he let go . . . and separated is exactly what we got.
If You're Gone (Matchbox 20) For a year after he moved out, I tried. Two therapists, three rabbis -- it sounds like the start of a bad joke. He was more concerned with finishing up his masters than trying to save our marriage. After all, he was sure it was over. Over and over, he said -- to me, to the therapists, to friends who tried to talk to him -- "I hear what you say, but I disagree."
Dove (Moony) I couldn't believe this was happening. This had to be fixable. I believed in getting married for life. Short of abuse or infidelity, I had not thought there was anything that could make me agree to a divorce.
quote:What made it all right together Is what made it all wrong . . . I cannot be what you want I did what I had to do Now it's up to you . . . You have to move on Look at what you want Not what might have been Only what could be
But staying married to someone who not only wouldn't move back in, but didn't acknowledge the self-changes I was killing myself to make, who was "too busy" to commit to spending time with me every week, was not something I could continue. Even if that year of limbo had not been the most hellish of my life, the toll it was taking on my kids was not something that could continue. Eventually, I gave up and gave in.
Believe (Cher) People kept telling me how strong I was, and that I would be ok. I just wished I were as convinced as they were.
Oh my gosh. That was a great post. I love that you shared a bit of your life with us and I love that you did with a soundtrack. (((rivka))) We love you!
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Aww, rivka, that was beautiful... Your music choices are perfect! I'm so glad you're here, you're such a wonderful, sweet, kind, nice, great, loving, affectionate (this could go on for some time...) person!!!
I really enjoyed reading this post Rivka. I have often thought what the soundtrack to my own life would be but I have never compiled it. I am glad that your story here ended with hope and wish you the best.
rivka, you're really very awesome not only because you know obscure Sondheim songs like Move On , but also because you are an incredibly creative, loving, and unique individual. Amazing landmark post.
You know, I've often thought of my own life as having a soundtrack. I often hear music in my head that accompanies whatever it is that I'm doing, though it doesn't always happen at the climactic moments.
That is one fantastic landmark post, Rivka, very moving. I expect it will inspire others to dish out their soundtracks. I really enjoyed chatting w/ you and others last week on AIM! Hope you are on AIM next time I feel like chatting.
Posts: 6316 | Registered: Jun 2003
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Thanks, Jane. (((((Jane))))) Well, there are worse songs to have stuck in one's head, neh?
Awww, Zotto! thanks. (((((Zotto!)))))
I hope it does, Morbo, I would love to see them! See ya on AIM! (((((Morbo)))))
, thanks CT! It's such a wonderful and welcoming community, and I am very happy to be a part of it. Thanks for leaving a light on for us! (((((CT)))))
Posts: 32919 | Registered: Mar 2003
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quote:(Of course, there were the ever-so-helpful adults who advised me that when I started to date I not act too smart, talk about the weird stuff I was into (sf&f, especially Star Trek), or otherwise scare potential candidates off by being too much myself.)
Beautiful post, rivka.
Isn't it amazing that, no matter how different two people's life experiences are, there is almost always something, some commonality that helps people connect. I got that same advice when I was young. Still get that same advice, in fact, now, at my age.
Posts: 2454 | Registered: Jan 2003
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Hey rivka, thanks for bumping this! You posted it right around when I was getting all settled into my new apartment, and I read it, but it was one of those, "I'll have to post on that soon" kind of deals, and it managed to pass me by.
Thanks for sharing your life with us in such a creative and personal way.