Family

Journal Day 2

This week’s prompt:

We all have songs that really mean something to us. Often just hearing it can take us right back to that place and we are able to re-experience the memory associated with the song. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but either way music has the ability to really draw things out of us and evoke deep emotion. Choose a song that has a particular meaning to you. Tell the story of the memory associated with the song, sharing as much detail as you can. Take us there; let us experience it with you.

Hm. At first I thought of our wedding song…Harry Connick Jr singing It Had to Be You.

[edit: I totally got our wedding song wrong. #wifefail #goodcatchmerfman]

But I sort of went down relationship road last week…

So. Something different!

From ages 12 – 23 I trained and showed horses all over the US. I would spend most of my evenings, weekends and entire summers riding and showing. I have so many memories of long drives, late nights, very early mornings and so much sweat and make up mixed with arena dust. I credit those as some of the most formative years of my life. I literally grew up showing. It taught me so much about being strong and humble and tough and dedicated.

My Sophomore year of college at UC Riverside I was living with my trainer and her family. On the days I had afternoon classes I would wake up, help around the ranch and ride before showering and heading to school. I was balancing life as a college student with the daily activity of a ranch.

That summer I was alone on the ranch for a week or two, while everyone else was back in Tennessee for a big show. Most of the horses were gone showing, but there were still several boarded horses and babies in training. Each morning and evening I had to feed, and clean all the stalls. In the afternoons I would ride or turn horses out for exercise.

Every few days the outdoor pens needed to be cleaned. I would grab my iPod, headphones, the muck-cart with the one flat tire and 2×4 handle, a fork and head to the stalls. I would try to wait until after 3pm when the Santa Ana breeze would be coming through and the relentless Riverside sun would feel slightly less intense.

I was super into Yellowcard that summer. Specifically the “Ocean Avenue” album and song. 

“Ocean Avenue”

There’s a place off Ocean Avenue
Where I used to sit and talk with you
We were both 16 and it felt so right
Sleeping all day, staying up all night
Staying up all nightThere’s a place on the corner of Cherry Street
We would walk on the beach in our bare feet
We were both 18 and it felt so right
Sleeping all day, staying up all night
Staying up all nightIf I could find you now things would get better
We could leave this town and run forever
Let your waves crash down on me and take me away

There’s a piece of you that’s here with me
It’s everywhere I go, it’s everything I see
When I sleep, I dream and it gets me by
I can make believe that you’re here tonight
That you’re here tonight

If I could find you now things would get better
We could leave this town and run forever
I know somewhere, somehow we’ll be together
Let your waves crash down on me and take me away

I remember the look in your eyes
When I told you that this was goodbye
You were begging me not tonight
Not here, not now
We’re looking up at the same night sky
And keep pretending the sun will not rise
Be together for one more night
Somewhere, somehow

If I could find you now things would get better
We could leave this town and run forever
I know somewhere, somehow we’ll be together
Let your waves crash down on me and take me away

The irony being, that I was daydreaming of life at the beach, while I was sweating through my starched jeans and sports-bra in the middle of the Inland Empire.
I only had a few albums on my iPod, so I would listen to my favorite songs on repeat. Mostly Yellowcard and The All American Rejects with a little Green Day thrown in.
To this day I can sing all those songs word for word because I spent hours alone with them in my ears. The background to my thoughts and the monotonous activity of cleaning stalls. Walk. Scoop. Dump. Repeat.
Today, when I hear those opening cords to “Ocean Avenue” I’m sucked back to the memory of callused hands and the ripe scent of horse mixed with sweet Timothy hay.
Completing the daily duties of ranch life leaves you a lot of time alone in your own head. I’ve always been a thinker – at any given moment if you ask what I’m thinking about, I’ll tell you a minimum of 5 things. Serious. Ask Merfman – he knows. Cleaning stalls, preparing feed, blanketing, riding – it all gives you time to play your head movies. Sometimes on repeat.
That summer was one I spent thinking about my future. I wasn’t happy at UCR. I knew I wanted to work in the Film/TV business and I needed a more hands-on education than I was getting at Riverside. I had checked my credits and I was a few short of being able to transfer so I would be there for another 3 quarters. I needed to start working on college applications. I knew I would apply at USC and UCLA. Chapman became a much later consideration (thankfully).
Those days in the heat of the IE summer were dry and routine. But they were refreshing also. Falling into bed at the end of a full day, with all your work behind you – you knew you had accomplished something. Even knowing that tomorrow, you’d be up before the sun, to do it all over again.

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