It’s been a week since The Heartbreaker tore a path of devastation through Aubrey’s life. Slowly, she’s putting herself back together. For her, just as for Matt and me, that means music.
Everyone knows that the radio hates you after a big breakup. Every single song reminds you of your ex. Either you danced to it at prom, or it was the theme song of a movie you watched together, or it was in the background of your favorite tv show. For Aubrey, she will never again be able to listen to “Fly Me To The Moon” without feeling a pang of misery. That’s the song that, in a grand gesture to prove his (pretend/fake/I was doing your mom a favor) love, The Heartbreaker sang to her, publicly, while dancing her around a beautiful fountain before saying for the first time in three years, “I love you.”
For me, it’s a tossup between “Pretty Woman” and essentially every Phil Collins, ELO, George Winston, or ELP song. Yeah, that’s a lot, but that was back in the days before the internet, so all we did was lie around listening to albums and talking. If I had to pick a single song, though, it would definitely be “Pretty Woman”. It was the song that my first love sang to me, and that was the moment that I knew I loved him. Just like The Heartbreaker forever changed how capable Aubrey will be of loving someone else, Brian forever changed me, somewhat the worse, but honestly, also for somewhat the better.
I was 13 when I met Bri, and he was 19. It’s more complicated than it sounds, because I was taking a regular college computer class, and Bri was my classmate. He didn’t know I was only 13, and I didn’t bother to tell him. The first time I noticed him was on the second day of class. He was sitting on the floor, drinking a Tab (does that tell you how long ago THAT was??), and I got a rootbeer out of the machine. I was chatting with a group of people in front of the machine, when Bri joined the conversation. He asked me where I was from, and I told him. He said that explained my pronounced Southern accent (which I do NOT have), so I poured what was left of my rootbeer on his head and stormed off.
For the rest of the semester, we spent every break together, flirting madly, although nothing ever happened. Not a kiss, not a hand hold, not even a hug. It didn’t matter, because I was completely lost. I was crazy in love, as was he, but neither of us said a word. Instead, he would sit next to me in class and draw cartoon characters for me on my computer printouts. He is an incredibly talented artist, and I would marvel over the detail of the drawings that only took him seconds to produce.
Of course, eventually I did have to come back home, 600 miles away from him. It didn’t last. When I was 17, we rekindled what turned into a stormy, passionate, and short-lived relationship. When I was 24, we began to talk to each other again, just as friends. One night, he told me he was getting married to some rodeo queen (seriously!). It didn’t matter that I was already married with two kids. I was completely devastated. I remember driving home from work, and I had to pull the car over to the side of the road because I was crying so hysterically. Why? A Little River Band song came on the radio. What is it about heart break that makes the Universe out to get us?
At the same time, though, music can be the only comfort and solace we can find. It is those times when we reach for the “she-woman man-hater” songs. Saving Jane has an entire album of what I like to call, “I’m better off without you,” tunes. Sara Bareilles’ “Fairy Tale” is perfect for flushing away the Disney dream of happily ever after. Adele’s album, 21, is full of “you’re going to really regret this in the morning,” songs.
When I saw the Prom Queen episode of Glee, with Jonathan Groff singing an acapella version of “Rolling in the Deep,” I knew I had to have a recording of Aubrey singing it. In an effort to get Aubrey back into “I am woman, hear me roar!” mode, I talked Matt into bringing over his equipment, and we set up studio in her bathroom. At first, she really didn’t want to have anything to do with it. She wasn’t in the mood, especially since she had just read my previous posts, which had the tears rolling again. However, Sarah Harmer’s “Oleander” is irresistable, and the idea of being able to record it with decent equipment dried the tears and got her into the tub.
Aubrey has an amazing voice, and it just keeps getting better. Her first efforts at public singing were…not unqualified disasters…but close. In spite of her rocky beginning, the video of her in eighth grade singing “John Deere Green” has well over 10,000 hits on YouTube. At 17, though, Aubrey has learned to carry that bucket full of tune.
Knowing how wild, wacky, and funny my kids can be, I grabbed the Flip (the greatest device ever created) to capture the fun. Though we were sweltering with the three of us in the tiny room with the door shut and almost no ventilation, it was worth it. I wasn’t just videotaping the kids; I was immortalizing a slice of our family’s life. They did not disappoint me.
The singing did make her feel better, as only singing and dancing can do. Now all the positive feedback from her friends and family have boosted her self-esteem once more, and she’s wandering around the house singing anything and everything.
It is going to take her a very long time to truly recover from The Heartbreaker, but just as I am the queen of rationalization, Aubrey is the queen of compartmentalization. For the moment, she will focus on finals, finishing her geography, dancing, Feis, moving… There is plenty of stuff to keep her thoughts busy while she lets the wounds heal. It’s rather like a conscious, self-induced, emotional coma. Is it how she planned to spend her summer? No, not at all. But it’s life. We just take it one day at a time.
“I hope you know, I hope you know, that this has nothing to do with you. It’s personal, myself and I, have got some figuring out to do. And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses her blanket, but I’ve got to get a move on with my life. It’s time to be a big girl now, and big girls don’t cry.”