Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
Turn around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.
Still, it’s so much clearer.
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge.
The moon is low tonight.
I am singing with a CD case as my microphone, Jennifer Nettles my backup. BF is biting his lip. For a moment.
He can’t stand it any longer. “You’re tortured.”
“I’m a torch singer,” I reply.
“I didn’t say you were a torch singer; I said you were tortured.”
“Stop it. You can’t talk during my solo. Now I have to start over. I am a torch singer!” I hit rewind on the dashboard, moving the cd back to the beginning.
REM was the soundtrack of my adolescence and young adulthood. I saw them in concert in 9th grade with Drivin’ and Cryin’ as their opening band and then I saw them again my senior year of college after my dear, sweet college boyfriend waited hours outside of the concert venue in Charlotte to score tickets for my birthday (he also accidentally landed as an extra in the Whoopi Goldberg movie, Eddie, that was filming at the coliseum that day in what is one of the funniest stories ever but back to REM and my singing). The concerts were the bookends of those formative years where REM’s music was like salve to my soul. We all have that band, right? Or a couple of them. I probably had a few– I was a music girl through and through for many, many years. REM was one of those bands that had a telescopic lens trained on my heart.
The opening lines of Sugarland’s cover of Nightswimming start back up. I turn up the volume. And I belt it. Like I’m 17 and not 35. Like I am riding with the sunroof open and have no responsibilies, not on the way home from running errands on a Friday night with the baby in the back seat. I am belting it like I am a rockstar. And right when I think BF is going to lose it, we notice something in the back seat. Baby. Punching his fist (bottle in hand) in the air with each note his mama hits (or misses you might say), milk flying, understanding just how much music matters (and, ahem, how good my voice is).
“That’s my boy,” I shout during the instrumental part. “And his mama is a torch singer!”