I’m walking in the rain when I start humming that song from Mama’s car all those years ago. We had only listened to cassette tapes then, Mama and I, because the car had been built in ’98 and CDs weren’t yet mainstream enough, or so I was told. I’d always liked that song, the one about space and how fast everything whizzes, and I wonder now—so many years later—how Mama had gotten the join on that track to be so perfect. She had been 25, alone in the radio station, and I don’t know how people made mixtapes in the early ‘90s but the song about space doesn’t sound the same when I pull it up on Spotify, the record company deciding differently where the song should start. Mama had done it right; had done it better. How did it take me 23 years to feel proud to claim my mother, her meticulousness?
When I quit humming the song and arrive home, I listen again and sing and wonder some about this—life—and music and Mama, because almost everyone I talk to, these days, has kids, and it’s dizzying, all I’ve never thought about. Dizzying, the care and distance required to parent. It’s too big and someone raised me and that’s too big, too. I don’t know how we find the bravery to keep growing, don’t know how we find the audacity to grow others with so little recognition, and that’s okay, my lack of understanding. That’s part of the contract, and this love is a mixtape, and I revisit it when it is dusty and I am older. I am reacquainting myself with those perfect segues and the handwritten scrawl of the liner notes. I’d missed them. I forget how fast we move, us, everything.
Ariadne Will was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska. As a child, she was afraid of banana slugs, but has since overcome this bias.