Life in Song: The Sign

Part of an ongoing writing exercise in which I write memories/stories/whatever is triggered by a random song in my library.

The Sign by Ace of Base

no one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong

This song is bus rides home in elementary school, 1993.

I never really wanted to talk to anyone on the ride home. A bus ride in elementary school, at least at mine – on the way in or after school – was loud, kids at their most energetic in the morning, then letting off steam in the afternoon. I was usually a talker in the morning. I would sit with my best friend from up the street and her younger brother, and we would laugh and make plans to hang out after school and generally be as goofy as we could possibly get away with without being too loud and pissing the bus driver off.

In the afternoon, though, I wanted to be by myself. My friend and her brother were rarely on the bus ride home – I can’t for the life of me now remember why, probably practice of some kind. It was a relief for me. I had a limit to how much socializing I could handle in a day. I needed time to myself, not to have to talk to anyone, to let my thoughts wander. I’m still like this now, surprisingly- at parties or other gatherings I find that I’m always by myself for some portion of it, needing to decompress from all the personalities and conversation around me.

So the best was when the bus wasn’t that full, the loud kids relegated themselves to the back, and nobody sat with me. I could rest my head against the window and watch the passing scenery and retreat into my own head. Songs on the radio – like “The Sign” – came on and I imagined stories that fit their lyrics and sound. I enjoyed the little quiet time I’d have before homework, and being home, and my own younger brother. It was often too short of a ride.

On another note, I remember the first time I saw this music video, too. Even my 9/10 year old self was like, “what the hell?” It didn’t match at all what I had imagined for the song, which was something more spiritual, I think (yeah, I don’t know either, but give me a break, I was 10). But I thought that spinning ankh against the flames was really cool.

Re-watch this video…it is a damn trip.

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