Soundtrack Of A Life

The lights go down and the ecstatic roar echoes through the crowd. Wizened dykes with smiles on their faces, young couples of all orientations, fans raising their hands with the words to every lyric etched upon their tongue. We wrap around each other and sway as Amy and Emily take the stage. Dapper Butch and Comfy Mama, banjo and guitar, tea and water behind them.

B000002872.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_The Indigo Girls are a rich piece of my memory. Layers of sexual exploration, layers of relationships, layers of rocking out and holding my arms wrapped tightly around me.

Caroline hands me a mix tape, covered in collage and squeezed into the plastic cover. I learn about Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Phranc. I am curled up with my first girlfriend as we embrace butch dyke and femme fatale. We get our first strap-on, sneaking into Its My Pleasure. The old woman behind the counter (who could not have been beyond her 30s in reflection) saying that they were out of stock of the dildo we wanted. All they have is the floor model. It hits us that it means that hundreds of women have lusted over that specific dildo, that it is charged with lust, and we take it home.

Max and Marlene and I curl up and listen to Rites of Passage and Max shakes his head. We are my first formal triad, Marlene’s pride rings glittering under the low lights of their bedroom. A year later she throws them in the river and my heart aches from hearing of it. Max and I never listen to Indigo Girls together again. Instead we watch every anal porn video in a series that the porn shop has, we eat food with consciousness in a ratty apartment, we kiss and cuddle and fire guns. We dive in deep, and return again, again, again.

At Evergreen I trade Swamp Ophelia with Alex one night for the Dookie album by Green Day. We are getting to know each other’s tastes between bouts of submission and sexuality. We put up with each other and delight in each other and drive off to see Chumbawamba in concert.

Galileo echoes in my skin the first time I hear it, and reminds me of my belief (long held) that reincarnation is not just real, but a pain in the ass.

I am in Berlin at 18, in a mansion with a bundle of boys from South America. We are sitting on rubber furniture and singing songs. I sing Joan Baez and Indigo Girls to them, new patterns to their ears. It is Language Or The Kiss:

61TQ4QlnT4LI am alone in a hotel room tonight
I squeeze the sky out but there’s not a star appears
Begin my studies with this paper and this pencil
And I’m working through the grammar of my fears

It feels real in that moment, even if that moment has yet to come to pass. I am in Saint Louis years later and that moment comes to pass. It echoes into Virginia Woolf…

They published your diary
And that’s how I got to know you
The key to the room of your own
And a mind without end

Here I am now writing 15 years of journal entries viewed by the world. You are getting to know me, you out in the world… sometimes before I am getting to know myself. I have inked the words “KNOW THYSELF” on the inside of my arm to match the scars there. I become the oracle at Delphi. I become the temple oracle I am charged to be. I become. Sitting here with a table breathing beneath the screen, I become myself, another layer again. Another telephone line through time.

The lights go down at the concert and the music sways the crowd. A mix of new music and old. A mix of swaying and smiling. A mix of memory and modern voice.

At one point, they announce the next piece will be a sing-along. In the classics (Rites of Passage, Swamp Ophelia, Shaming the Sun) the words beat through the audience in an ecstatic wave. They know these in their blood. They have lived these songs and had them be the soundtracks of their life. They know “Language of the Kiss,” they know “Ghost.” We have danced these stories into our spirit.

Music from last night as we stood in the front row.

Music from last night as we stood in the front row.

And yet, I see the look on the face. I have felt this look. The look that says “no matter what I craft, they will want these ancient parts of me.” It has been 22 years since the release of Rites of Passage, and it is what they scream for. They scream for my history, not my current life. I know this feeling.

Amy Ray plays from her new solo country album and the room falls silent. They listen, but they want Amy Sailors back on stage. They came here for the past, not the future.

How often do we come to the world for our past, rather than our future? I am swaying with my Butterfly, but I am aware that I am also listening to that mix tape, looking at pride rings, trading for Dookie, singing in Berlin. I switch back to now, to now, to now. But there is my history, echoing into my bones. I dance back into the now. I look down into her eyes and am back to the now.

This is the soundtrack of our lives. My soundtrack currently features Nicki Minaj, MC Lars, Maroon 5, Tessanne Chin, S.J. Tucker, Eminem, Omar Faruk Teklibek, P!nk, Sharon Knight, Lady Gaga, Toto, Notorious B.I.G., Kamye West. I sing, I sing, I sing.

Breathe deep. I breathe deep and look down into her eyes, and push back her hair.

Let me be today.


If so moved…

Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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