I started this month planning to write about songs I love, but now I see that music has other plans for me.
Instead, I find myself today with a tune knocking around my head that I loathed for many years. Truly loathed. And now? While I can’t say I adore it, I have a real and ridiculous fondness for it that would have surely shocked my 17-year-old self.
Back in my last few years of high school, I was part of a pack of friends who’d gather most weekend afternoons at once house or another to play—ahem—role-playing games. You know, Dungeons and Dragons and that sort of thing. It was me and a group of four or five guys (I was an honorary guy for most of my pre-college career).
Saturday nights would find us around a kitchen table, its surface strewn with thick rule books (spines worn and cracked), pads of lined paper, stubby no. 2 pencils, bowls of snacks, and a hoard of candy-colored, many-sided dice.
Our favorite game at the time was called Top Secret, a spy-themed game where we performed various dastardly-but-imaginary missions. We’d play for hours and then there’d be a break—a sort of seventh inning stretch for the non-athletic—where the guys would wander to the living room to watch the latest episode of “Doctor Who,” a show I just couldn’t generate any enthusiasm for.
As nerdy and boyish as I was, there was nothing about the low-budget science fiction show that I could admire. There was something so sad-seeming about it to me: dismal, dingy and cold. Just the theme music was enough to put me off, and when I’d hear those first twangy, strumming notes bounce their way into the kitchen, I felt the show’s dismal dinginess seep towards me and I’ve to distract myself by studying the game’s rule book or anything else I could find.
That was then. Today I’m a mom, distinctly not one of the guys, and “Doctor Who” has been refreshed, brightened, and polished into something so glossy it barely resembles that ramshackle early version.
And now I watch it. We watch it together as a family. We laugh over it and cry over it and scoff at it and love it. And I find myself singing that darn theme song over and over, as I feed the fire, do the dishes, sort the laundry, write this post.
And I find myself doing that strange sort of mental time travel, warping back through the years at a speed faster than starlight, to that young self who never imagined herself a wife, a mother, or a “Doctor Who” watcher. And then bending back through galactic clouds to this overcast December day, sitting across from a girl who is now 17 herself, and who cannot for the life of her imagine what her 51-year-old self will be like.
I feel weightless, a bit, or groundless, like I could take off at any moment and find myself riding a comet, or swinging on that slim crescent moon I saw last night, or waking up in a distant galaxy, humming a tune I don’t know and can’t forget.