Previously, on Lost Notes…
Lost Notes – 2.
When I was 13, I had an accident.
I was in a big school. 3 floors, 12 big classrooms in each high rise floor. We had three playgrounds. One was a grassy soccer field, one was a gravel and tarmac triangle-shaped area with basketball courts and volleyball fields and the third one was a low playground made from concrete steps, like the ones a giant would find a good cardio exercise. This patio had a few lonely trees in square-shaped concrete pots.
From one of these trees, an oak, we tied a rope to a high branch, then a tire on the other extreme, like a makeshift swing.
We took turns at it.
It was easy: you ran then jumped while holding to the tire like you were holding for dear life. The branch was long enough so that you never went into the trunk and you were just swinging in circles ’til you didn’t know which way was North.
You were free. You were flying. We all liked this. No one fought for a place, no one jumped across nor cut in line. We all took turns.
One day, I can’t remember if it was a Monday or a Tuesday, the rope broke. I was hanging from it when it happened. I did ran very fast when grabbing it, so maybe that’s why it snapped. I dunno. It just happened.
I fell on my head. All my weight, into a spot in my head. The next thing I remember is my friends, holding me. Scared for dear life.
But I couldn’t hear them. Nor see them. Instead, I could see far in the horizon, amidst a white, no, yellow, field a castle, a black castle with a high tower, rising in the middle of it.
A voice in my head said: this is heaven.
When the voice went quiet, my eyesight came back and I saw that the “tower” was the flagpole (and it’s square-shaped concrete base) in the distance. A skeptic would tell you that I had a concussion. A theist would say I had a near death experience.
My friends were scared.
I was 13, and I almost died.
A few months later, my favourite aunt had a series of heart attacks. It was because of her work as a medic. She decided that, if the end was really near, that she wanted to do one last travel, a small rite of passage we had in our family. My parents and her saved and we went to Europe. My aunt, my mother and me.
I fell in love with England in that summer. I can’t explain what it was. The rest of Europe was good too, but I held a special place for England.
Two cities in particular grasped me. One was York. It was the layout, the look, the crazy wall around the city, the fucking vikings, man, it was so tubular.
The other gnarly place was Coventry. I remember the day perfectly. It was an overcast day in July, a light shower was spitting from heaven and I was in the middle of the ruins of Coventry cathedral when my mother told me about the Blitz.
I barely knew of the Blitz, mostly from ‘Hope and Glory’, but that was it. There, in that devastation, I stared at the cross made from the burnout beams.
Something in me changed. I was 13.
The year before that, a classmate died of a brain hemorrage. He was 12. The year when I went to England, in Autumn, a girl from another classroom died. She was 13. The year after, another classmate, a bully, shot himself.
He was 15. They told us he was playing Russian Roulette.
They didn’t know him.
My aunt is still alive. And I’m now 30, on a flight to London.
When I was 13, I didn’t like music, it symbolised the tastes of the bullies in my school. When I was 17, I heard Collective Soul and it changed me. Like the cross from Coventry Cathedral.
The first song I hear when I arrive at Heathrow? Collective Soul’s ‘Shine’, in the PA of a W H Smith. The second one? ‘Enjoy the silence’, by Depeche Mode. The memories, good and bad. A kid using his first flannel shirt. A girl, singing with eyes closed, with a full house in her dealt hand, in a cold December when the birds forgot how to sing.
Memories best left unearthed.
Still, music never judged me. I grab a newspaper, sit on the bus (sorry, coach) to Sheffield, where I will work in a consultancy filling papers that will get filed in a dusty old drawer.
We pass by Coventry and I see the Cathedral from afar. The day is clear and I’m 30. And my aunt is still alive.
About the author: Thanks to Smokers Die Younger for ‘Bad driving too’.