It feels like a million years ago now, that I sat listening to this song with my then boyfriend not long before we discovered we were pregnant. Before we decided we had to get married. Before our fun and carefree relationship turned into something dark and desperate… before our close friends split up and tore us down the middle, before the birth of our child, before the death of my closest friend and before the weight of the lies did damage that neither of us could repair.
In those somewhat blissful days ‘before’ it would have been impossible to imagine the wound that would open us all up, the heartache that lay ahead for all of us just under the surface; crafted by every choice we were making. Yet somehow there it sat right in front of us, our future, as undetectable as a land mine. Those days we used to spend the morning in the cool water of the waves off the point. Riding long cruisy waves as the sun came up. We would sit on the beach and warm our hands on hot cups of sweet tea, sharing cigarettes and watching the swell stretch across the black sand. We would laugh at each other and we would kiss and we would hike through the jungle to secret beaches where we could be alone without the watchful eyes of culture and religion. I was escaping my world and he was pulling me willingly headfirst under the surface of his. We were foolish and carefree.
The year I turned 26 my afternoons were spent lounging in hammocks with my best friend, reading books, playing cards and balancing ice cold long necks of bintang between my knees… we told the time by the call to prayer and we could tell who was singing by the quality of their tune. Every now and then he would drop by, when there was no swell, to lay on the cool tiles between us, a speaker balanced on his bare chest and a smoke in his mouth. Together we would drink a bit, dance a bit and then we would all three pile on to one motorbike, surfboards balanced either side, tucked under arms, digging into thighs, sunburn itching and sandy faces pressed against the back of salty hair. We would always surf until dark.
When I listen to anything by Joshua Radin I’m reminded of all the good in us, all three of us, before the rug was pulled out beneath us. I remember his face, skin the colour of dark chocolate from a life spent in the surf, the dark pools of his eyes like coffee stains and his lips like peeling paint. There was a casual authority in the way that he moved.
These songs were the soundtrack to our days, they mirrored us in rhyme and rhythm. It was the soundtrack to one of his first surf films, footage taken by whoever was available to hold the camera. Setting up tripods and hiding from the sun under towels on the beach, while we watched him dance across the waves. Now he’s in every magazine, his brown body splashed across the pages, his smile, his style, his presence – belongs to them.
I still love (t)his music,even now, a whole world away from him with dishes piled high on the bench, crayons all over the floor. Neither of those people I loved a part of my every day life, one gone forever and the other just a voice on the other side of the computer – separated by broken promises. But we listen, Bo and I, and I tell her stories of all of the good. The stories of the days that she came from – my hedonistic life of sand and heat and coconuts eaten straight from the tree.
So we listen. And we laugh. And we lay next to the woodfire, defrosting our frozen toes as we talk about palm trees and black sand and coconuts eaten straight from the tree.
Music, much like food, has a habit of dragging me home – even when I’m not quite ready to go.