Closer

A friend of mine just passed away recently. He loved to hear me sing, and he used to come during rehearsals to hear Molly and me sing together. He would sit off to the side of the big concrete columns in his wheel chair, with his chin in his hand and a very serious look on his face. Later in the week, he would send flowers or candy to thank us. A few months before he died, we had lunch together, and he asked me lots of questions about my music and the new directions I was taking. I was nonchalant and vague, not wanting to make too much of something just starting out. And to that he said to me “Let me give you some advice. Remember, that you become what you think about.”

It felt important right when he said it. I locked in on it and repeated it a few times. I thought about it for weeks and still do. I told Tony his advice, and he said “Think about Grammys.” I’ve been thinking.

When I was in high school my family went to church a lot. A lot a lot. And to get through three super boring sermons a week I had to do something so I daydreamed. I got really good at it and very detailed. I would wait until the sermon started and then see if I could make it through the whole thing without breaking my concentration on a particular dream. In my day dream I concocted my future which, I kid you not, included a big old house, a husband, three kids, two girls and a boy, a golden retriever and lots of animals. It also included a vegetable garden (which I don’t have) and a clothesline (which I really want but also don’t have) and a tire swing (which we had). So, if you don’t know me in real life then you don’t know that I got nearly all those things. I got the big old creaky house, which we don’t have any more but miss every day, and my two girls and a boy just exactly like my grandmother. Cody is our round golden retriever who smiles, and we have a long series of kitties for every phase of life. We put a tire swing in the back yard like the one Uncle Chid made for me and hung in the big tree in my grandparents’ yard. My kids ate popsicles on the back porch and read Little House books just like I imagined. My husband can fix sinks and console babies, and he is my best dream. Maybe a correlative fallacy, but pretty good evidence that thinking about things can make them happen.

So now here I am in a new phase thinking about new things.  Those day dreams all having come to life.  I’m thinking now about writing music and singing for lovers and selling albums.  It’s a completely different dream and why couldn’t I have lots of them. Why can’t we? There’s this thing about being a woman and having to chose things. Kids or career. Money or happiness. Perfection or time.

When you have little kids, it doesn’t matter how much you try to avoid it, it takes over your whole life and being. Their needs consume you and rightly so. It is the way of survival and love. When you’re in it, the time with them seems to be agonizingly slow and tedious and simultaneously faster and more precious than you can comprehend. Things you longed for are over in a moment and things you dread take an eternity. And soon stages are forgotten and new ones begun and you are needed less and then what?

Here’s what I’ve noticed: we prepare our kids for a multitude of creative futures, a variety of sometimes short-lived dreams. Soccer, piano lessons, dance class, robotics, service trips, drama club, and summer camps. And when they grow up, how much of that do they use? Does it matter? Not so much, because it was a part of who they became. But do we translate that kind of experience to ourselves? Or do we say that for us it is too late because we have already settled into who are going to be? I think this is wrong. Surely if a child can learn to speak Spanish at 11 then an adult can as well. Surely if a child can learn to tap dance at 3, an adult can as well. And what better example for life-long happiness and balance can a child have than a parent who knows how to learn? Who knows how to dream new dreams? Why is the decade between 10 and 20 so pivotal and meaningful in our culture for determining a future life but the decade between 60 and 70 is not? Why are you allowed to dream at 15 but not at 55?

I have been teased a little for this new dream of mine. Some people think I look ridiculous, or at least that’s what I imagine they are thinking. Because with their slight teasing and comments I see they do not understand what I am about. Why am I not satisfied with what everyone else is satisfied with? The truth is, I could be. Really. But somewhere along the way I turned a little further than I knew I could and saw a thing that I could do that I did not know I could do, but it turns out I can. So I am going with it as long as I can.

Here I am a little bit closer to a new dream. It is not a dream of fame or fortune–though a little of that would get me by–just of good music and stories and people. People that tell me their stories and people who listen to mine. It is a dream where I meet people, and they like my music and I get a new friend who sees me and I see them. It is a dream where someone hears I song that I wrote, and it makes them feel understood. It is a dream where I get to keep writing and making music as much as I hear it. Where I get to sing as long as I want to.

I hear that little voice still. That pseudo-religious condescending voice who lets me know with her eyes if not her words that she disapproves of all this fuss and dreaming. It is not humble. It is not putting others first. It is ungrateful. She wants me to remain nonchalant and vague; not to appear to be too excited or hopeful.  Somehow I would be more admired for having given it all up for the sake of my children and family. Maybe this voice is my own invention and no one else hears her, but I bet not. She is wickedly intrusive. I am learning to shake my head at her and give her dirty looks. I am starting to show her she is wrong.

Every time something good happens, I get a little bit closer. Every time someone who didn’t have to say anything says something, I get a little bit closer. Every time I do something I am afraid to do, I get a little bit closer.  Every time I believe something possible that never seemed that way before, I get a little bit closer.

Closer

You’ve got something to say to me
You’ve got the look that can only mean
Now look at me I can barely breathe
You put your hand on the wall
Lean over me and say

Why don’t you slide closer
Just a little bit closer to me
Slide over
Just a little bit closer to me

Now here comes my favorite song
And I can’t stop from singing along
That’s the step that you’re moving on
You put your hand on my back
And now I’m gone

Why don’t you slide closer
Just a little bit closer to me
Slide over
Just a little bit closer to me

So I can hear your heartbeat
And I can hear you breathing
And I can feel your right hand
Reaching out for my hand
And you can hear me singing
And I can feel you leading
And you can love the way
My voice hits your ear

Why don’t you slide closer
Just a little bit closer to me
Slide over
Just a little bit closer to me

Sara Quah- Closer

Read the other posts in my Taking Me Back Series:

For You, Dear: Pre-Order Taking Me Back on Pledge Music

Physics

Foreverness

What I Heard

How I’m Feeling

Wallflower

A Little Bit

Take Me Away

20 Steps

2 Comments

  1. So… this was just fantastic and enlightening. I think I remember having dinner with you after you had talked to your dear friend and gotten that advice about thinking about who you want to become and what you want to accomplish. What awesome advice. Really, why not you? I say YOU!!! Grammy here we come! xo
    Thank you again for taking the time to explain the inspiration and meaning of your song, and for letting us see inside your thoughts and dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

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