Earlier, I was cleaning my house, and Pandora radio was playing a mix that sounded suspiciously like a Love Songs with Delilah playlist. Somehow, I found myself listening to Colbie Callait — not something I would have ever chosen myself. But if you know the rules of Pandora, you know that the internet radio selects for you based on the parameters you set; you can only go forward, not back; you have a limited number of skips based on their licensing.
Every time the song “Bubbly” comes on, I throw up in my mouth a little. Not really for anything having to do with the words, or the music, or anything like that — it’s a catchy, pretty little pop song. (Though if you really listen to the words, they don’t make a whole lot of sense.)
The first time I heard the song, I was driving back to New York from the University of Delaware (on a weeknight). My sorority was in the introductory stages of setting up a new chapter on UDel’s campus, and at the time I had been a very involved alumna. But there was a dark side to that November night, too — the lack of moon being only one small part. My then-husband was going in for a colonoscopy the next day to see if he had cancer.
It was the fall of 2007 and my brother was in jail on drug charges; my life was falling apart. While the possibility of Andrew having colon cancer was remote, under the circumstances I was expecting that brutal diagnosis, since the things that had had remote probabilities of happening in my life had all come to pass in the few months prior.
On a dark stretch of the Turnpike between Newark, DE and New York, “Bubbly” came on the radio. Its gentle, upbeat tune was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I began sobbing uncontrollably; so hard that I couldn’t see. Which was unfortunate, because they happened to be doing construction on that stretch of road, and, at 85mph, I crashed into an orange cone.
Under ordinary circumstances, crashing into an orange cone does no damage — or vitually no damage — to a car. That’s part of the genius of the soft plastic construction and the very shape of those things. At 85mph, however, the damage a cone will do is quite significant. But I kept going, grinding and thumping noises notwithstanding.
When I got home, I discovered that cone took out my entire bumper and nearly took off the driver’s side wheel of my brand new Jaguar.
As it turned out, my husband didn’t have cancer, but he did have crohn’s disease. The whole front side-panel of the car needed to be replaced and custom-painted, to the tune of nearly two thousand dollars. I was supposed to get a coveted Chanel clutch for Christmas that year. Instead I got a new bumper.
The moral of this story is: things are never as bad as they seem at night alone on the Turnpike; never as bad as Love Songs with Delilah make them out to be, and you should never take your eyes off the road ahead.
A few years later, my somewhat-cousin walked down the aisle to the same song. It was the first wedding I went to after my divorce. This somewhat-cousin of mine got married at the same golf club as her brother had two years earlier, which was the same venue where I’d attended the last wedding I ever went to with my husband; the first wedding we attended as a family with my brother when he got out of his, as they say in polite circles, program.
The celebrant at this first post-divorce wedding unfortunately talked all about divorce throughout the wedding service; how so few marriages last these days — but these two lucky kids; this bride who had walked down the aisle to the song to which I had once crashed my car over the prospect of my husband’s survival — they were going to make it.
After the ceremony, I went inside and dry heaved. Splashed cold water on my cheeks. Recovered.
These days, there’s a dance remix of “Bubbly” on my running playlist. And I run to that 150-beats-per-minute sound.
Because the moral of this story is still: nothing is as bad as it seems; keep your eyes on the road ahead. And that feeling of throwing up in my mouth — it’s because I am fast; and I am strong; and I am tearing up the pavement with my own two feet this time.