I can trace my path across the southern part of New Mexico in song, tracing one long groove from the deserts of the Jornada to that final frantic exit at the Arizona state line. I can find a song from the bag of cassettes I carried or from the small stack of records I owned, and I can immediately place a pin on a map and trace the line, where we met, the moon over the desert, the two mile walk through scrub nothing to her house, the later drives deep into escape velocity. The good and bad, all of it loudly spelled out in a spectrum of music ranging from typical to atypical, cheesy to death defying. Bizarre placements of sound and vision: I have this one Enya song lodged in with a memory of walking across a full-moon desert, on my way to her, this gigantic crystal bowl of a black sky with that lightbulb moon, I had my headphones in and this mixtape, and damn hell Enya. It doesn't come up on play lists any more, so when it shows up in a soundtrack or random media, I get stopped dead with a flood of bright black sky, littered with silver, on my way to that love. Embarrassing to say the least.
And later, the sheer death defying pain at times. Typical songs from that time and age. Pick something off of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me by the Cure. The Kiss, for instance. Stupid high speed drives with two fingers on the wheel, head outside the driver's window, eyes closed, drunk and quietly raging, tiny motor wailing, letting the weight crush then pass. For every track on The Final Cut I have an associated wall punching rage. Oh and sex. We'd have Rhythm of the Saints on in the background, not on purpose, but it did happen a lot, and it would go back to that first track with the drum line, always causing us to laugh there in the middle of it. And hearing that outside her door on a surprise visit, her with another guy, me left shattered. I've written all of that down, haven't I?
All over the place, this sound track. When I finally left, Gordon (my co-driver) and I listened to stupid crap the whole way to California, like we were trying hard to avoid any pins on the map, avoiding the correlation. Zappa, though, still gets me, and when I hear Muffin Man I do have a selection of scenes from the hundreds of miles we repeated that song. We get to California, and I spend time alone with my car and my music, speeding up and down hiway 1, waiting for it to stop or kill me. When I finally did let go, it was notable for this:
Standing next to the car, overlooking the ocean. Bright yellow moon, clear but for wisps of fog, and no sound but silence. No song, no manufactured emotion, no echoes. Her being a distant memory, my own life finally coming into focus as a thing on its own, without parents, without a path. Nothing but ocean below, a quiet constant crashing.
Then, well, I understood what I'd been running from. I understood what I had actually missed, eyes open and staring past the girl who would become my wife. That soundtrack starts with longing, and continues even now with a complex syncopated weaving, but that's a soundtrack I've played for you many, many times.
These maps, they're too loud.
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