My life has a sound track. Often during times of consequence I somehow stumble upon music that defines the moment – and when I do, in my madness I listen and re-listen to the song until it is permanently infused with my memory; capturing my feelings, the scents and aromas, the exhaustion and the fear and the violent freedom of my most significant events.
Consequently – and not unrelated – I’m also a product of the Scrubs generation; a time of music and liberty and love. A generation of Americans who are profoundly, proudly and purposefully American – who find in their love of country a passionate freedom; one that courses through my veins, finds its expressions in my writing and takes its cues from my music – the music of my generation. Those who are a part of this generation know what I’m talking about – to everybody else, I feel sorry for you.
A few years ago I ran across a particular song; while flung exhausted on my queen bed Roku’ing as much as I could of the journey of the Scrubs crowd. The wind outside was cold and biting; the tiny condo in Alexandria was full of the smells of formula and diapers. My newborn was finally asleep, after a particularly energetic bout of screaming as he tested his new-found lungs and my new-found patience before surrendering himself to exhaustion. He lay between me and my wife – a little bundle breathing in the warmth and comfort of safety. We were tired but happy as only two people in the epic misery of childbirth can be. The night grew darker outside, and I still couldn’t sleep as I approached the end of the series – when JD exits. “It’s never good to live in the past too long; as for the future (…) it didn’t seem so scary anymore, it could be whatever I want it to be.”
Cue Peter Gabriel, The Book of Love.
I looked to my left; at my little bundle breathing evenly, snuggled safely up against my wife who had also passed out. Seconds turned to minutes as I obsessively played and replayed the song until little Simon woke up with a tiny squeal which instantly brought my wife back to life – and we held each other and watched and listened, penning the next chapter in our own book of love. The dawning of quiet recognition warmed my spirit as I came slowly to the realization that there breathing in my arms was my future – and his possibilities are limitless.
For my baby will also be proudly American. He will be filled with that tremendous feeling of boundlessness that defines the American experiment. He won’t be encumbered by the prejudices of the old world, or the quiet desperation of Africa or the angry jealousy of the countries down south. He will be part of a new American generation, with his own music that will become infused with his own sacred moments as he writes his own book of love. We will warily safeguard this – my wife and I – because his story started first and above all in our own book of love.
I ran across the song again today – pushing play and letting the emotions, smells and sounds of my past overwhelm me. My baby is now a little man – tumbling in the rain and fighting to control his emotions and his opinions as he starts to carve out a world for himself. He is already penning his own book of love; the first pages are being filled with stories of mud puddles, butterflies, lizards and Dr. Seuss. He’s no longer simply a chapter in my book; I’m also a chapter in his.
I sometimes look to him with a little bit of fear; nervous about his future in these troubled times. But then I hear an old song that serves as a place marker for a moment in our book of love – I look again at my wife – and suddenly “it doesn’t seem so scary anymore, it can be whatever we want it to be.”
Joel D. Hirst is a novelist, author of “The Lieutenant of San Porfirio: Chronicle of a Bolivarian Revolution” and in Spanish “El Teniente de San Porfirio: Cronica de una Revolucion Bolivariana”