A drum beats through the background of my daily narrative. A bass-line usually thrums in my brain and through my body while we eat, when I dance, as I work, while I play guitar. But the background beat has been eerily absent for over a week. My guitar and both of our iPods were casualties of the Todos Santos robbery. Turns out that the lack of music is perhaps the most haunting loss of all.
We are musical people. You’ve probably heard Rob singing loudly through the aisles of the grocery store in Missoula, or watched him unconsciously playing drums on the counter, the steering wheel, or on my leg when we sit next to each other. He keeps time to the soundtrack in his mind, and had recently started recording our friends’ music, too. I try to dance daily, and play guitar often while I belt out old rock songs (sometimes even on key!). At home, we streamed Pandora constantly and our trademark Christmas gift to our friends was a mixed CD of our favorite songs from the year.
The recent quiet seems to take up physical space in my body. It almost feels oppressive, like a balloon that muffles my daily rhythms and makes my thoughts echo in my head. I know: counter-intuitive, right? The silence should serve to heighten my awareness of the world around me, not stifle my interaction with it. But for me, music enhances every experience – kind of like a 6th sense. It cements new memories, anchors me in a place, and activates my creative right brain while tamping down my overactive analytical left brain. It’s like cream in coffee, hot fudge on a sundae, the icing on the cupcake: music just makes life more fun.
Rob and I have been singing snippets of the same Lumineers song for the past 10 days now (“I don’t know where I belong, I don’t know where I went wrong…I could write a song”). We’re a broken record, a CD skipping endlessly on one track. Not only is it annoying, it also tells me that our music sense is stagnant. I hadn’t pinpointed the problem fully until we got in the shuttle from La Paz to San Jose del Cabo. Our Mexican bus driver turned out to be an American rock-n-roll fanatic, toggling from Pink Floyd to Coldplay to Clapton to Radiohead.
As Rob and I sang aloud to “Wish You Were Here,” I felt the bubble inside me pop and my body breathe a deep sigh of bass-filled relief. I also immediately felt an insane urge to stand up and dance on the bus, now that my music sense was reactivated. I hadn’t sashayed, spun or shimmied since my last Oula class at the Downtown Dance Collective over two weeks ago. Completely unacceptable.
Luckily, all of the awesome dance songs I downloaded before our trip are waiting in cyberspace for me, ready to upload to iTunes when I get my replacement iPhone tomorrow. I’ll be shakin’ my bootie in no time during a self-led solo Oula class at the entrance to the Panama Canal. We also picked up some replacement tunes (thanks to Cassidy, our main source for all new music), and plan to buy a new cheap-but-functional campesino guitar in Panama City.
As for the Lumineers song – well, we might not be listening to that one right off the bat when we find a music-making device. But you can damn well be sure that Rob and I will be singing and dancing along to something as we sail across the Pacific. For us, music is almost as essential as food (almost).