Today we have a guest post from Katie, the author of For Elysium blog. Thank you Katie for joining us on The Road!
Music has an undeniable influence on memory, as significant moments in our lives are connected to the music we listened to at the time. My earliest memories tied to music are understandably guided by my parents’ tastes.
At age 12 when my own music interests started to develop, they were prompted by another member of my family–my great uncle. One day visiting his house, I related to him country music’s level of “uncool.” He insisted that I put on his enormous headphones and listen to Mary Chapin Carpenter on his “jambox.” At first I was intrigued. Then he played “Quittin Time” and I was hooked. It is still one of my favorite songs.
My adult life is a timeline of album releases. When I was engaged, Nickel Creek had released their first album and I listened to it in my room at my parent’s house as I counted down the days to the wedding. Their second album–This Side–came out the year I was setting up my first classroom, and I listened to it on repeat for days as I unpacked boxes of teaching materials in the stifling heat.
The summer before my first baby’s birth, I was enamored with Michael Bublé. He had released his album It’s Time and I delighted in singing the songs while dancing with my new baby daughter. Her brother came less than two years later around another of Michael Bublé’s album releases, Call Me Irresponsible. My memories surrounding that particular album are positive later on, including singing “It Had Better Be Tonight” in the kitchen with sound effects added by my daughter; however, in the beginning of my first son’s life, I remember this album with bittersweet sadness.
The baby blues came on strong after I left the hospital a day early. My newborn baby was hooked up to a biliblanket for jaundice, my toddler was vying for my attention, and I desperately wanted to be back at the hospital. When “Lost” came on I truly lost it. The song takes me to his sky blue room, tears streaming down my face as I rocked and nursed him in the glider, the farthest he could be from his crib for three days thanks to the phototherapy equipment.
When Kyle was born along with his extra 21st chromosome, it seemed like the hospital staff was avoiding me a bit. Maybe it was just the placement of my hospital room, or because he was baby #3, or because they didn’t know what to say. However, when they walked into the room I don’t think they expected what they saw or heard. Almost every person who entered remarked how they were instantly overcome by calm, thanks to the music flowing from my CD player.
I had created two mix CDs of peaceful songs by Secret Garden. I planned for the CDs to be my labor music, however Kyle’s birth was so quick I hadn’t had time for music. So I played it as I recovered in peace, holding Kyle and gazing at his beautiful features. I still remember the trouble I had nursing Kyle because he was so sleepy, except during the few songs with words I could sing to. When I sang he nursed more vigorously. At one day old he was already responding to music.
In selecting a title for my blog (not an easy feat), I finally settled on music for my inspiration. “Elysium” by Mary Chapin Carpenter has become my self-chosen theme song. The word comes from Greek literature and means something close to heaven or perfect paradise, something I think we are all looking or striving for.
I feel like I have found a bit of that in my years raising Kyle. He has brought a new level of beauty to my life, the kind of beauty that can be found in perfect paradise.