Mary Chapin Carpenter sings the words, half a beat behind me as I write them. And somehow sings ahead of me, too, which makes no kind of sense, just is.
It’s a good song – catchy and soulful at once.
I’m pretty sure we have a hit on our hands, not that Mary’s ever needed any help from me. She seems to know what she’s doing, so I usually just say no when she asks if I’ll write music with her,* because really, who has that kind of time?
And then, I hear whispering. Insistent, plaintive whispering.
I will my brain back into the groove of the song. Come on, Mary, keep singing.
“A thousand miles away-ay-ay,” she sings on.
There, that’s it. Just ignore the whispering.
I hear it again.
“Mommy, the computer’s not working.” Tap tap. “Mommy? Are you awake?”
I open my eyes, blink twice. The Girl comes into focus.
The day follows, and all that sunlight. Day whatever of spring break. I stretch, touch feet to floor. I’m awake.
While coffee brews, I jot down the two lines I can still remember from the song. Grab at a few more lines that feel just out of reach. Are out of reach.
And over the next hour or maybe two, a lot of things happen. Breakfast. Kids, fighting. Me, yelling. Laundry. Loading the dishwasher. Kids, hugging me. Me, hugging back, so hard. (How lucky am I, are all of us, if we can do that?) The kids going outside to play.
Over the next hour or maybe two, I start to sift through the business of the day, stopping every now and then to try to remember how the song went.
But no matter how hard I try to hold on to it, the song fades away.