Beach House

40 Days of Writing/Spring 2017/Day 5


Tonight the music rules were No Hamilton and No Queen.

None for you, Amanda

First of all: oh hell no.

But second of all: okay. My man had spent the day building a new fence and a new chicken coop in the cold driving rain and hail (this is not a fictional dramatized fantasy, this is my real life). Every time I walked to the kitchen in my king-comforter-sized sweater and fancy red foot duvets to make myself another cup of tea, I would look sympathetically out the window at him trodding back and forth like a super-handsome freezing cold pioneer man, carrying boards and chicken wire and lattice, and I would warmly tsk-tsk at how he should really come in for some nice hot tea already, poor dear.

Meanwhile, every time he did come inside – to have a quick cup of broth or use the bathroom – Hamilton was on full tilt and my daughter and I were singing along, dancing around the house, blaring in his face and most definitely not doing any work whatsoever which might contribute to the household.

So psh whatever, I let him have his musical restrictions.

I only recently got music back. From time to time I do something stupid to my phone and I lose my music, and I cry and cry until my youngest brother who knows about things comes for a visit and basically saves me with his magical music-filled hard drive. Granted, I’ve had to teach him over the years about things like ‘Maxwell’ and ‘Bjork’, and there are still essentials that he’s missing (Peter Gabriel OMG come onnnnnn), but I forgive him because Therefore He is Young and Blessed Be the Young and Other Such Baloney.

Also, he introduced me to Beach House.

When I found myself at a time when I needed new music in my life, I asked him for a mix. He put Beach House on it. When I was going through my divorce, I asked him for a heartbreak album, and he put Beach House on it. When I was going through a different stupid breakup, he put Beach House on it. Each time I listened to them, I would feel my insides rearranging themselves in odd ways. I would bravely sing along while dramatically clutching the steering wheel of whatever variety of station wagon I was driving during that stage of my life, taking great big gasps of freeway air, crying, crying, singing along, crying.

“Any way you run, you run before us….”

Tonight, since I couldn’t be lazy and just listen to Hamilton again, I hurriedly pushed my thumb into the phone, and the Bs came up. So it was Beyoncé while cooking, and Band of Horses during dinner. Afterward, when everyone had gone their separate ways, my son sat at my computer to make a list of upstairs bedroom and bathroom rules. He called them ‘Upward Laws’ and most of the rules ended with “to avoid awkward confrontations.” He is hilarious, that kid. I asked him to change the music while I went about the perplexing task of pairing leftover food with the most suitable tupperware.

The music started and suddenly, I melted a little. He’d pushed play on Beach House. In my recent lapse of music options I’d forgotten about the power of The Beach. I started to sway in a weird way; it may have looked a little spectrum to the outside observer. I was just starting to really groove into this emo bubble I was blowing around myself, preparing to channel my inner Martha Graham all up in my dishwasher, when my son said “hey mom, who is this playing?” with a furrowed brow and faraway look.

“This is Beach House,” I said, carefully. I really hate it when people burst my bubble and say anything other than what I want to hear about the things/people/music I love. I quit my book club for nearly a year when most of the members shared how much they’d disliked House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, which I’d suggested because I loved it so much. Needless to say if my son said he didn’t like Beach House, I’d be so bummed out to have to send him packing. I really like that kid.

But “Hm” he said. “This…this makes me feel something,” and he closed his eyes, and smiled. “I remember this.” Can you even imagine how happy this made me feel?

I told him yes, I used to play this all the time when we lived in our old apartment. I didn’t say “when it was just us: you, your sister and me. When I didn’t know how I’d figure it out. When I lost 25 pounds because I couldn’t eat the meals I cooked for you. When the stereo was on nonstop 24/7 rotation playing mixes from Uncle Ben and Kirsten and Adam. They were the soundtrack to our reawakening.” I didn’t say any of that.

He stopped typing and listened. He said “wow, yeah, I really remember this. This makes me feel so good…it’s like a memory…of music.”

And I thought “I DID IT YOU GUYS!!”

I don’t know what ‘IT’ was, exactly, except that I never had this moment as a kid. I never looked at either of my parents with the look he gave me right then, as a person just discovering and appreciating music, realizing your parent might have something cool to offer you.

It. Was. The. Best.

Then I had a weird urge to text Sam Irby to tell her all about it. “OMG my kid just discovered Beach House via ME and now thinks I’m a goddam musical-listening genius WHAT DO I DO TO MAINTAIN THIS IMAGE??”

The problem is, I don’t really know Samantha Irby.

I mean, we all know Samantha Irby, right? Author of “Meaty”? Author of the blog “bitches gotta eat”? And yes I have her cell phone number, but only because she’s married to my friend Kirsten: a creator of one of those 24/7 mixes. Sam and I have never actually met in real life. But, when I was finally stocking music again via my brother, I was panicking. I texted Kirsten to ask about which album to get from a certain band, and she directed me to Sam. And bygod Sam and I had a downright bonding (to me) text session over music, and especially, Beach House.

I thought she would understand my moment. But I had the presence of mind to realize that she is kind of a famous person, and probably doesn’t want some random yahoo texting her at all hours about music and the wonders of mother/son dynamics.

I’ve since kicked my teenager off of my computer so I can write about my feelings while Beach House sings “I’ll take care of you/if you ask me to.” And I’m weeping, again – goddammit, goddammit, goddammit! – because some moments, or big entire blocks of forgotten time, never really leave me, and there is only one song, or one album, or one poem, that can take me back there and walk me through it all again, for better or worse.

And at the end of all of that I have to sit back, look around, and wonder at the fact that I’m still breathing.

2 thoughts on “Beach House

Add yours

  1. Damn you Amanda Janik. You’ve done it again. Thanks for making me cry tears of joy first thing in the morning. My love for you is off the charts.


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