Lights, a song in 95 degrees
In the whirlwind of past and present, a dash of future thinking, perhaps we are trying to find our way back to memories that make us who we are. A reflection, but more than that, a baptism by fire in which we rose from the ashes.
At twenty, I should have been an adult. Lights brought me back to where I should have been.
Lights by Ellie Goulding is a pop song puntuated by synthetic undertones and light lyrics. I have always been embarrassed by my taste in music, how pop-y and simple I like my songs. But this song reminds me of a too-hot summer, long walks down winding suburban roads and crushing depression. I romanticize this particular summer. I was too young to be that sad, listening to this song on repeat while my world shimmered in gasoline puddles and total oblivion.
My mother had essentially kicked me out. July is a hot month in New England, but that summer we reached a new record of 95 plus degree heat that lasted for weeks. As my body attempted to sweat out emotional toxins, my life came to a head. My friend took me in.
I have written poems and prose about this young woman; I am getting a tattoo this year of a tattoo she had. Fly Free. Black birds that swallowed her wrist. I need alone time, and Lights blared in my headphones while I took walks around her suburban neighborhood, the lushness of it all taking me back to the future, where I would eventually crave the sadness, the realness of being completely alone in the world.
When her brother texted me to tell me she’d died a summer later, I was well on my way to a newer, better me. But why want to leave that previous summer behind? Lights still lingered in my headphones, a reminder that while we move forward, we can’t forget the summers that make us.
When I publish my first book someday, I want these lyrics to be on the first page, an introduction to my fate:
“You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine them when I’m alone
And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong
And dreaming when they’re gone”
So simple, yet an effective way of remembering simpler, poignant times. Flames to ashes, a person remembered, always.