I’ve spent most of my adolescent life trying to remember suppressed memories of my childhood. This has often been a painful process because I have a hard time remembering the good and the bad. The bad is a little bit easier to remember because I’m naturally more of a pessimist, but one blissful detail of my childhood that I have never been able to forget is my identity through music.
I live each day with multiple songs on my heart, running through my mind and at the tip of my tongue. The lyrics and instrumentals help me get through each day. Music has in a sense become my bread and water; my sustenance.
As a young girl, music was always ringing through our walls. Whether it be one of my siblings playing one of their many instruments or any of our household members singing at the top of their lungs acapella or to the track, music dominated our lives and in many ways it has dominated my memories.
Each and every one of my most important memories are connected to a song in some way. My favorite books, my favorite moments, even tragic moments are all linked to music so that I can remember them. People may say that smell is the most memory jogging sense, but music seems to be my replacement for smell. My friends always wonder how I am able to remember small moments from our high school years and it’s because each year of my life has a distinctive soundtrack and moments that correlate with each song on the playlist.
Naturally, learning the scores for musicals (and most movies) is one of my favorite past times and has been since I was a young girl. Some of my favorites being Les Mis, Wicked, Annie and the Phantom of the Opera. I have only ever seen school renditions of these plays and in high school I performed in a compilation of numbers from various musicals including West Side Story.
Last night, I had the opportunity to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Not only was this a life fulfilling experience, but a reminiscent one as well. As Christine and the Phantom exchanged words through song memories of my aunt and me watching the Phantom after school flooded my mind. We would get so excited whenever it was coming on cable that we would record it (this is when DVR first came out) and watch it while it aired as well as the next day and the next day, never growing tired of it. We knew every word, every note and being altos we would attempt to stretch our vocal chords in attempts to match Christine’s spectacular range.
Afternoons spent with my aunt were some of my favorites growing up because she was like the older sister I would never biologically have. She is only ten years older than me so as I was in elementary school she was in high school, but age wasn’t a barrier in our relationship. If anything my interactions and experiences with her helped me mature in thought and practice, which I see effective in how I am today. Most of my friends are five to ten years older than me.
Watching the Phantom and trying my best not to sing along to the music in fear of disrupting the people around me, I was reminded of something important. Music has not only been my mental way of keeping track of the iconic moments of my life, it has also acted as my protector, my escape from the world around me. Those moments with my aunt helped keep my young eyes shielded from not so pleasant things happening in my life as a child. She was my angel of music, my protector and she still is to this day.