Can open. Worms everywhere.
Don’t you just love it when you are in the middle of doing something and you hear a song that immediately relocates you from your current position to the place that harbours a specific memory? It can take some time to lock it down, find the rhythm, and line yourself up with the lyrics. But the minute you connect, all senses are engaged and accompanying you to Nostalgia’s last-minute party. And party you do when you are all together under one roof. Smell pours the drinks, hearing turns the volume up, touch performs pirouettes, taste snogs the breath out of memory, as sight stands stoically, taking it all in. Luckily it’s down to sixth sense to continue driving the car, stirring the risotto, crossing the street or standing in the queue at the supermarket. Because for now, the rest of us are busy somewhere else, somewhere we would love to be.
I’ve always been one to prefer home entertaining, so whenever Nostalgia wants a party I suggest she rather swings by my place so we can do as we dig. Just the other day I was standing in line at a café, ready to order, rehearsing my wie bittes and ja dankes when Lionel broke through the gap in the sound of the coffee machine and said, “Helllllllloooooooo.” Immediately Nostalgia rang up and asked if I wanted to see my younger sister, her beautiful, broad smile, singing alongside Mr Richie, with her gruff chuckle. I said, no thanks. Not here. Now is quite simply, not the time. And so I ordered mein mit nehmen kaffee, and went on my way. But then, a few days later, as I was going about my daily rituals of procrastination in the comfort of my own home, and Neil Young shuffled himself onto the playlist, I opened up the door to Nostalgia who hadn’t taken long to come knocking.
So I turned the track up, and in total rebellion to any emotionally wise approach, pressed play on the memory montage. As the music plays, as am I, right there, on the deck of Dollar’s farmhouse with all of the little loves in my life. We’ve just jumped off the back of the bakkie, aptly named Blaze, following a drive around the farm. Tingles of fresh vibration fizzle my fingers from the firm grip I’ve had on the side of the vehicle as we banged our bums along the dirt road. My eyes are still stinging themselves from sweat and squinting into the almost setting sun without my Ray Bans on. I’ve swallowed a decent dose of dry floating dust as Blaze blasted himself into the hot, valley air. My shoulders have been at the mercy of the hands of southern hemisphere summer sun. And I’ve caught the waft of baby shampoo blowing through the locks of my niece’s hair, as she bobbed about on my lap. I’m holding onto it.
We’re all totally high from the hills that bellowed the sound of music as we sang an octave above the diesel engine, all the way along the journey. Any Disney track we could recall. Top of the charts was Frozen, because there were enough kids around to drown out the lack of lyrics known by the rest of us. Except of course for the part when Elsa famously advises everyone to let it go. Then we nailed it. Then we were the Von Trapp family, perfectly in tune, timeously on cue, very much together and totally not holding back anymore.
On the stretch home, we had decided to introduce the children to some of the songs that we liked to sing. After a bit of Simon & Garfunkle, Tracy Chapman and Leonard Cohen, we moved onto something faster and a little less depressing, like Neil Young.
And so, after disembarking the beast, we put the record on, full volume. It turns out not even the circle of life, the colours of the wind, or part of your world would come close to this performance. These beautiful children opened themselves up to the will to live, to give, blowing their air-harmonicas, into the warm, African evening. Even the dogs got involved. They didn’t really need to know about Hollywood or Redwood, but it’s certainly a special thing to witness a routine to the lyrics of being a miner for a heart of gold. To keep on searching for a heart of gold. Even if you’re getting old.
The second the song is over, Nostalgia is up and out of the door, passing through the kitchen on her way out, deliberately dropping the can and opening up all of those worms. This crafty bitch has discreetly passed the baton to Sorrow and now I have to do my damnedest to get him the hell of out my apartment. Well, if I’m completely honest, I do run a bath first, put a bit of whiskey into my water and munch on some carbs before I kick him out. And so I suppose I cannot blame Nostalgia entirely. I probably had invited Sorrow around at some point during the week.
I think I discovered the practise of self-healing through the cathartic discipline of studying acting. Well, introspective healing, as well as overdramatising. The greatest acting coach I was lucky enough to work with, explained the importance of being able to differentiate between being the artist and the instrument. The artists are the ones who have written the work for us, and illuminate it, dress it up and promote it. We are the instruments. As actors, we have to know every chord, every key, every note to our instrument, in order for the artists to play and the music be heard. And so I tapped into my drum and banged away. I adapted this approach to ordinary living and learnt to listen to what my instrument was capable of playing. My love handles are merely a pair of bongos, slightly battered and buggered, but always resonating the beat the composer orchestrates.
So when it comes to music, I’d rather take myself wherever it’s enticing me to go, than resist the opportunity to board that Tokyo fast train of feelings. It’s not just about spending an evening or two with Sorrow, it’s also about waking up next to Joy and her morning breath. It smells of baby shampoo and young hair. It’s a beautiful memory and it’s worth holding onto.
And for those times when I think I wanna build a snowman. Or ride my bike around the hall. It’s ok, I will just let it go, let it go. I won’t hold it back anymore. Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.