“Old Pine” & The Memories In Between

Have you ever had nostalgia hit so hard you swear you could taste it? I feel that when I listen to Ben Howard’s “Old Pine,” especially when it’s bone cold outside.

“Old Pine” brings me to a place where spontaneous car rides took friends and me to a random, already-harvested cornfield to watch an invisible Northern Lights. Did I mention just how bitter cold it was? No matter the amount of layers, the cold would find you. And it turns out that you can’t just drive northwest to the suburbs to catch those Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights we never did see

This song makes me think of Nikki and Allie, and how our apartment was one of so many hilarious, sad, confusing moments that make you look back and say, “Was that even real life?”

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And, yeah, it reminds me of how I saw Ben Howard perform live, with only a hundred or so feet separating us. How he recognized the silence of the room as we all looked on, knowing he was creating a moment for us all. I remember thinking that it would be so hard to one day put words to that pause of guitar and song, and his look into the crowd to acknowledge our awe of his intimate performance.

It’s this particular song that brings me back to friend groups forming at late night parties that involved a too-small balcony, and a random walk to the beach at 1AM with no shuteye until 5AM. I remember looking at the city with wide-eyed fervor, charged to see these years unfold with these people by my side.

“Careless and young, free as the birds that fly/With weightless souls now/We stood/Steady as the stars in the woods/So happy-hearted/And the warmth rang true inside these bones.”

That’s what Ben sings in “Old Pine.” I’m not sure any other words could convey those precise feelings during these times. Time, though, has a way of carrying on without a mention of how these moments may be remembered, but they will not last. True to its silent progression, I have seen us all come, go, and carry on. We have entered into new relationships, married, had kids

… and all we can say is, “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Right? Right.

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At the most recent send-off of a dear friend, we sat around soaking up the memories we had with him. Each of us who shared in these moments together, ran our fingers through the web of memories. We laughed, toasted to, and prayed for his new, unknown community of friends that awaits him. There was such a strange sensation to recognize that each of us may eventually see this same send-off.

We will all look at one another, seeing the new lines in our faces and smile at the silent tick of time. We will continue to believe that the moments we have already lived before were truly the times we were most alive – infinite joy.

We will look back and ask, “Was that even real life?”

“Old Pine” ends with Ben Howard singing:

“We grow, grow, steady as the flowers/We grow, grow, older still/We grow, grow, happy as a new dawn/We grow, grow, older still.”

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