4

Song: Train in the Distance
Artist: Paul Simon
Age: 22

It was mid-December 1997 and I was seven. My grandpa had passed away in his sleep the night before, and I was very scared. I was a little kid and had no idea how to comprehend death, especially when it was so sudden. During the day my whole family had come together with hugs and love and reassurance that things were going to be okay. But that night I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t exactly go into the living room for a kiss on the forehead to make me feel better.

I was on my side in bed for a while, facing towards the wall farthest from me. My walls were white back then, except for the crayon scribbles that hadn’t been painted over from when I was really little. All of the scribble marks were green, it’s always been my favorite color. There was what I guess was a horizontally flowing zig-zag or an attempt at grass for a landscape. It had several squares floating just above it, houses perhaps? I was snuggled up in my bed with my yellow duck doll Quackers. He was very soft and kind of huge, about 2 feet long, rather large for a little kid to hold.

I had a small pink boom-box in my room with a mix-tape my mom had made me for when I couldn’t fall asleep. It had The Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, and other slow songs that were easy to fall asleep to. I was more than ready to go to sleep, I was very tired, but it just wouldn’t happen. I was still wide awake and it was very late: way past a 2nd grader’s bedtime, so I put on the tape. The usual songs played, another, then another, and another. Time passed and I knew I was nearing the end of the tape because I started hearing songs I’d never heard before.

Then Paul Simon’s “Train in the Distance” came on. I don’t think I had ever heard the song before, I had always fallen asleep by this point in the tape. The song relaxed me. My mind slowed down enough for me to finally fall asleep. It was the last song on the tape and by the time there was silence I remember having everything in my head feel much much clearer. Now when I hear that song I think of how even though it was the most scared I had ever been, it calmed me and helped me, if even a little bit, to move on. I occasionally put on the song if I’m feeling down.

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