Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Flood of Memories From Mary Chapin Carpenter: Clinging to Souvenirs

video

Mary Chapin Carpenter has written many songs that capture a mood well. One song that really resonates with me is "This Shirt." The song traces the private history of a shirt and all of the memories it evokes when the singer wears it.

I frequently feel an emotional charge and a stream of memory in inanimate objects that I own. Here are a few things I have owned that carry a lot of recollections.

For years I had a paper napkin upon which the shadchan wrote my wife's phone number. Then there were the shoes in which I got married that I kept long past their time of usefulness.

I prefer used books to brand new ones. The thought that someone else has spent time in the same book I am reading gives me a feeling of connectedness to others. A profoundly good book is like being in a relationship. I feel a sense of emptiness when I am not in the middle of a book that captures my imagination.

I was wearing a nice leather jacket when I went to the Western Wall for the first time. The zipper broke as I was standing there. I am trying to find a way to fix the jacket with hooks or buttons that leaves the broken zipper intact. The fortuitous timing of the zipper breaking seemed to be a reminder to be patient.

I like to hang onto old tram tickets, particularly if the design looks antiquated. I used to shop at a store where the proprietor kept receipts that he had printed in the 1940's. I don't remember the shirts he sold me. I only remember the receipts.

Music has two sides. One is the song itself. The other is the flood of memories attached to each song.

Whenever I am riding in an elevator, I like to look at the inspection certificate. Some of the dates go back well before some of the births of my older children. Looking at the inspection certificate evokes memories of the bustling backdrop to the birth of a child, how an event that is monumental to me is unnoticed by most of humanity.

When I ride a plane and look down on the carpet of lights, it reminds me of a circle of lives surrounding each light that is only at the edge of my world. I wonder what attends each flickering dot. Is there laughter or sorrow? Is there anger or peace? Did someone fall asleep yet again in front of the television?

When I eat in a restaurant and say Grace After Meals with a booklet imprinted with the name of a married couple or a bar mitzvah boy, I always calculate how many years have passed. How is the couple doing? How is the boy doing?

I feel far more connected to my grandparents through owning some of their books than from looking at their pictures.

One day I was looking through things in the basement. I found a candlestick that was placed by my grandfather's head before he died. Somehow I knew this.

I am realistic enough now to know that I can not save all of the souvenirs of years past. But I am grateful when such mementos survive. Sphere: Related Content

2 comments:

pecka said...

i really like how you brought this out ''Music has two sides. One is the song itself. The other is the flood of memories attached to each song.''

pecka said...

I really like how you brought this out ''Music has two sides. One is the song itself. The other is the flood of memories attached to each song.''