Recently, my friend Micheal made a suggestion on my Facebook page. "Hold on to the memory of a time that you felt really good and project that onto tomorrow and the next day." Good advice and something I try to do, but chemotherapy-induced fog and the passage of time didn't make that any easier. But, last night I got on YouTube and listened to a bunch of songs from my youth. I found myself smiling more than I have in weeks, thinking back on better times.
There were too many for me to list here (or even remember now) but there were a few standouts I searched for or stumbled across.
One thing I re-discovered was how great the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop is. In 1985, I bought it on cassette and kept it in my car to listen to while driving--meaning it was one of my favorites. I wore that cassette out from playing it so much. There were plenty of hits from that soundtrack that year and plenty of other songs on there which had potential. My favorite was "Rock and Roll Me Again" by The System http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwJVAjftml0. It's a good example of what rock sounded like in the 80s. To me, it just sounded like summer. I liked listening to it while driving around at night with the windows down, feeling the warm moist air moving through my car.
That was the summer I turned 21 and was about to begin my senior year in college. So much of life was still ahead of me. My future sparkled and shimmered, tempting me onward, propelled by youth, optimism, and self-confidence that grew stronger with each passing month. My body (finally) started to "fill out" and put on weight in the form of lean muscle, after too many years of being skinny and underweight. For the first time ever, I felt attractive from the neck down.
Speaking of optimism, another song from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack was "Stir It Up" by Patti LaBelle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raxKQH7TQFQ&feature=related. It did me a world of good to hear it again last night. Pay attention to the lyrics. She's singing about being down and out but knowing the future is going to be better.
I stumbled across "Sweet Freedom" by Micheal McDonald http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SykNSv-1Dks. It was being played on the radio a lot right after I moved to Tampa right after graduating from college. For the first time since I was five years old, I was out of school and I felt more freedom than I'd ever known. Life in a large city near the beach only added to that feeling.
Around that same time, "Girl Can't Help It" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXcWloohyy4 my favorite song by Journey was popular. This wasn't one of their biggest hits but I've always loved it. The best part is the drumbeat, loud and strong like a heartbeat--a young, vital heartbeat, ready to take on the future. I can never just listen to this one once. It has to be at least twice, sometime half a dozen. It reminds me of being young and confident and making new discoveries of what I was capable of.
But, my favorite song from the 80s is "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone" by Glass Tiger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxGVEMW1cNI , probably due to its ability to instantly transport me back in time. Whenever I hear it, it's 1986 and I'm living in Florida, on my way to the beach with windows down and the music turned up high. My only care at the moment: making sure I got enough (but not too much) sun, looking good, and finding a good parking place. That summer, I started using a health club and lifting weights. My body looked better than it ever had and for the first time in my life, I received compliments on it. My confidence in my appearance was at an all-time high and it carried over into other areas of my life.
After a couple of hours of music-enhanced memories, I felt better, healther, than I've felt in several weeks. No, I'll never be twentysomething again, but I WILL feel stronger again when the cancer is behind me. There will be more good times in my life and more reasons to look forward to the future.