Song Title: Heaven is a Place on Earth
Artist: Belinda Carlisle
Age at time of Song Memory : 13
Current Age: 38
Song Memory: South Africa: It is 1987 and I’m 13 years old. My dad is driving the cream-coloured Volkswagen combi while I lie on the bed in the back. My dad converted the combi into a mini-caravan, complete with bed, curtains and cupboards filled with basic camping gear. When we go camping, I sleep in the combi van and my dad sleeps in a tent outside. We’re on our way to the Drakensberg mountains, one of my favourite places in South Africa. The combi smells of petrol and oil and dust. The mattress is checked with little green and red squares and filled with foam. I lie back and look upside-down out of the back window at the passing trees and telephone wire poles that line the road as we drive. My walkman is beside me playing my new Belinda Carlisle tape and I have headphones on.
Things have begun to go very wrong at home and this song soothes me. It’s the only kind of freedom I know at 13… music and leaving the house to go camping with my dad.
At 19, I will be diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, which will explain why I have always had trouble remembering dates and places and other details. But, perhaps partly because I am a musician, music has etched certain memories firmly in place.
“Ooh, heaven is a place on earth…”
But now, at 13, my body rocks with the rhythm of the van as it climbs the mountain roads and I taste bubblegum and remember hanging out at the ice rink.