Love, Life and Mirages
A story of life’s twists and turns. An anecdote of the first time you heard the song you fell in love with me to. The beat that runs through the veins of our journey on this earth together. May things never be what they seem, but instead be always be a thousand times more beautiful than anything you could ever dream up.
1. an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.
2. an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved.
It’s September 2015. Top deck of the 79 bus, heading back from my tiny student flat and there you are. I can see you now clear as day, even though I didn't even witness this moment with my own eyes. You just told me the story, the story of how you fell in love with me to the notes in this song.
The sun shines through the hazed over windows that cocoon the bus, encircling the moment in mist. Little beads of condensation drop off, and slither down one by one to join each other in a heap on the bottom seal. You unzip your jacket, it’s humid and you’re still feeling a little sketchy from the night before. The world is full of dreams and it feels like you’re floating on air. The bus is completely empty, because it’s 11am on a weekday. But you have nowhere to be but right here, riding this indescribable wave of infatuation all the way home.
And my god, this song, it’s the first time you’re hearing it, but it’s the song we’ll call ours. It fills your heart with hope. You close your eyes briefly and see her face flash up through last nights inebriated eyes. She’s laughing with her whole body at your jokes, your heart pounds. You sink into the gentle beats whirling and swirling around your mind. This world is so beautiful. Your mind wanders far away as you let heavy eye lids rest just for a moment, feeling the whole world spread out in front of you. Endless possibilities unfold before your minds eye, as the beat sings the rhythm your heart has played since the night you kissed her. The places you’ll go together, the things that you’ll see.
And as your minds eye wanders you leave the bus and the city behind. The beat takes you far away. Like something from a music video you watched last night. You’re on an island as she leads you through white sand. Running, breathless, “come on” she smiles backwards. Then turns back to the beach. Towards the sea, towards the sunset. You don't know where you’re going or why but you’d follow her anywhere. Blue and white flecks shine toward you, so dazzling it’s as if someone laced each wave with crystals. The ripples melt effortlessly into the backdrop of a lilac sky. You watch her hair sway in the sun as you run, you’re a little bit drunk.
Where is this place? Hawaii? Bali? A warm, fuzzy feeling engulfs your body, as your toes hit the edge of a wave that’s meandering it’s way towards you both. She stops to catch her breath. You watch her chest rise and fall, and soak up the wonder of the moment playing out in your imagination. Basking in awe of the mystical world we call home. The song carries on in your headphones and gives the image in your head such life, that you swear you could reach out and touch the water if you just stretched your fingertips far enough.
These day dreams of surreal beaches, and DJ booths in hot countries where the visitors never sleep, don't end up being your reality as soon as you would have hoped. At times they feel simply unrealistic. Sometimes it feels like they’ll only ever sit in your mind. Maybe one day you’ll wake up in bed together, and sneak a packed bag she didn't know about out from the bottom of your wardrobe. Tell her you’re getting on a plane to anywhere. And she’ll jump up beaming and follow you to the airport, giddily sipping from a rhinestoned hip flask in her handbag.
But for now the visions you conjured up on your way home from her flat, the first time you heard that song, exist only as islands floating in your imagination. Suspended by the stars of your destiny. Both close enough to touch and yet so far away. Wake, eat, work, sleep. You push on, you could have swore that island seemed closer yesterday. Kids, bills, rain, still. Keep going, one day, one day...
This sounds bleak. And sometimes it feels it too. Sometimes you both get caught up chasing your youth. The youth you sacrificed to have two new babies by the age of twenty-two. The responsibility is huge. So when it feels like the weight is crushing you, who could blame you for running towards the mirages of your youth. When it feels like all the pictures in your minds eye do, is evade you.
So strange. It’s so strange how a song without a single word, not even in the hook, and with no lyric or verse can make you feel like someone's took the warmth you feel in your soul, and translated it into notes. And though this part of my piece may sound bleak it isn’t, because there’s still a whole other side of this story that I’m yet to mention.
Although the mirages of diamond encrusted seas and lilac skies still evade you for now, that song still brings you back to her. The feeling it gave you isn’t lost by any means. I’m not saying you won't one day see with your eyes what came to you that day in hazy daydreams, but for now the picture it awakes when you hear it is different.
Now when you hear that song, when the notes start to play, your daydreams fade out into somewhere deeper. And you see her, rounded stomach, tiny feet tracing skin from the inside. You see big brown eyes fluttering open for the first time. Spots of dust dancing like glitter falling in slow motion, in a stream of light carefully guiding itself through a crack in a curtain. Shining across her in a hospital ward with a newborn baby asleep on her chest. When you press play you still always see her laughing, head back and neck outstretched, laughing with her whole body at your jokes on a quiet night in her student flat. You see every fight, and every long night when you thought you weren't going to make it. Every kiss, and every hurtful word spoken through gritted teeth. Every forehead kiss she gives you in your sleep that silently pleads “I’m sorry for what I said to you, I didn’t mean it, sometimes this life we chose just gets too much for me, I love you, don't leave.”
Looking back it all seems so superficial now, the mystical world those notes helped you dream up on that first bus ride home. It sounds crazy to get nostalgic about dreams, and it seems insane to think we can be nostalgic over things that we’ve never actually seen. But we can, and we do, every day. Because our imaginations are powerful, and because our mirage is so much harder to get to than we ever could have imagined. So for now I’ll let each note break open my heart and soul, and let it pour out memories of us. I’ll sit, and listen, and remember. The good and the bad, because every moment is what makes us, us.
When that song plays I’ll remember every one in all it’s rawness, in all it’s beauty. I want to thank you truly, for never really giving up no matter how bleak things looked, no matter how many times we felt we couldn't go any further. No matter how many times our bodies and minds caved in to the stresses of this life, you kept walking through the heat with me. Thank you for giving me so many more memories, than you could ever have imagined up in a hazy daydream, on the 79 bus. Life throws challenges at us, and there’ll always be hard times. God knows we’ve had our fair share. But I just hope no matter how badly we argue or how far we drift, that if our song comes on it will always take you back to us. I hope it always reminds you of how you saw me, in your imagination that morning. I hope it takes you back to that first time you made your way home from my flat on the bus. The first you spent as no longer just you, but as us.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my challenge piece for “Back to The Beat”. I really hope it makes you feel something, and I hope you enjoy the song! If you like my writing and want to see more, give me a follow on Instagram, I’ll be posting there every time I write something new. Thank you in advance for your support! Love, Rebekah x