Mixtape memory

Today’s slice was inspired by Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals, Day 8 prompt.  I highly recommend subscribing- her prompts are incredible for your own writing and for possible writing instruction!

“Ooo my favorite song is on the radio!” my mom exclaims as she reaches to turn the knob to the right.

“Mom, nooooo,” we all groan in unison. 

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, they pave paradise and put up a parking lot, oooo bop bop bop,” she belts in her soprano voice, snapping her slim fingers with the beat.  “C’mon, sing along!” she prods while making eye contact with us through the rearview mirror. I roll my eyes and continue to stare out the window.

2002 marked the closure of my middle school years and also the year Counting Crows released “Big Yellow Taxi” which was aired on our regional radio station more often than not.  My mom spent a lot of time carting me and my three siblings around in our too old iconic blue Dodge Caravan. I spent a lot of time trying to isolate myself within a van of four other people, staring out of the window, imagining high school in the not-so-far-off distance.  As the oldest of four siblings and an awkward buck-toothed pre-teen, I often felt trapped within my body and within the confines of my family. All I wanted was to commence high school, the spring-loaded plunger in my life’s pinball game plan of freedom. Instead, I was plopped in a minivan with my three siblings listening to my mom serenading her lungs out, carting us around from errand to errand. 

Later that year, my parents initiated their own process of freedom, a grueling, never-ending divorce. Although it was many years coming and a relief in some ways, the barrage of lawyers and judges and child psychologists and tears and battles and depression was and is… not easy.

Nearly two decades later, I have plucked my mom’s 2002 car jamming sessions and planted them into my own identity.  My mom’s identity has also morphed. Whenever I take a trip home and we are driving in the car together, the radio is turned off.  Inevitably, I revert back to my passive pre-teen self and demurely ask if I can turn the radio on. “No, I just like silence when I drive,” she responds. Her slim fingers grasp the 10 and 2 position on the wheel, as she resolutely fixates on the road ahead.  I gaze out the window, wondering if she remembers her beloved sing-along lyric, “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

4 thoughts on “Mixtape memory

  1. Your writing is raw and real with the preteen emotions brought to the surface by the memory of a song. It reminds me of the story I love to tell in writing workshops where one story leads inevitably to another story that you must stop and write down either in your notebook or ideas or better yet on the side or your page or better yet, if it fits, right in your story. No story sits by itself. Well done and I also agree that a divorce saga, sadly never totally ends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I smiled as I read the first bit of the slice…my own children also comment that they are picking up some of my weird habits. “I’m becoming my mother,” they lament. You switch to a more serious tone was powerful, too.

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  3. A powerful post strung together with preteen angst, wistfulness and song. For me, it has a Wonder Years quality to it. This I can relate and you capture the feeling so well in this piece- “As the oldest of four siblings and an awkward buck-toothed pre-teen, I often felt trapped within my body and within the confines of my family.“ Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

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