Me and Billie Holiday and a Daydream

Recently, I remembered a recurring daydream I’ve had for most of my adult life.

It is a of a breezy summer day. I am sitting on a swing that hangs above an expansive and open porch of a maybe-old home. The floor is made of wood planks, and the porch is shadowed by a deep overhanging ceiling. The porch and, thus, the swing face a field of wheat, or some sort of tall, slender, golden grass that easily sways back and forth in the slight wind, shimmering in the sun as it does so. The sky is blue, scattered with white cartoon clouds. It could just be a perfect summer day.

I am moving to and fro on this porch swing, my feet dangling and pushing off the wooden floor beneath me. My back is to one side of the house, also made of wood and painted white. Large windows are open; the breeze moves easily through and among them, to me and from me, out to the golden field of dancing grasses. It reminds me of images of mid-19th century America.

The wind carries a song and a voice. It’s Billie Holiday. She sings to us — the grass, the field, the porch, the swing, the day, to me. It could be “Easy Living;” it could be “(In My) Solitude.” Maybe it’s “Any Old Time,” the one she sings with Artie Shaw. Whichever it is, I hear her from behind me, floating through the window into my ear as I swing on the porch. It carries me, even though I sit, observing the field, the wind, the passing clouds in the sky-blue sky. The breeze is warm, heated through by the sun, but the porch ceiling above keeps me shaded and cool. I rock, swaying in the breeze, like the grasses, listening to and nurtured by Billie Holiday.

This all arose — this memory and these feelings — as I switched music streaming platforms (which sounds so abrasive in the context of the warmth of this daydream) and remade and revamped the many playlists and soundtracks of my life, harkening to my mixed-tape and CD-burning days. And maybe it’s that she will forever sound romantically, reminiscently vinyl — a part of my musical history that I no longer physically carry with me — in any case, “Billie” is one of these renewed playlists, just twenty-eight songs. Songs of burdens and woes, taking the good with the bad, tending to one’s business, and leaving one the hell alone.

Old, but shiny; familiar, yet new. I love her so.

I never used to think of myself as a Blues person. I used to think that I didn’t — couldn’t — relate. One can’t be sad! Weren’t my needs met? I would think to myself. But I know now that was probably denial, and/or a not-yet awakening to what I suspected to be true — about my childhood and youth, about love and family, about purpose, identity, shame, about sadness and grief and loss, about good times, bad times, highs and lows — and telling the truth about them all, releasing illusion, expectation, assumption, no longer a practicing emotional infidel.

When I understood that, it was like the lightbulb of language-learning illuminated, and suddenly, I heard. I related. I understood her and the Blues. The Blues became something that helped move me through grieving and healing, like therapy, like a support group, like kin and kindred spirit. In other words, it seems that I look to nature and Billie for love, strength, and support.

When you speak the same language, you often find your tribe.

It used to be true that “in my solitude,” I was haunted: The memories of abuse, the perpetuation of trauma; the incidents when I was harmed or shamed, not seen, nor heard; or — because of what I yet had to learn about myself and my experience — when I harmed others emotionally. I would shudder at the thoughts and recollections. But solitude became my friend and companion, and very much my healer. I have come to love solitude, and seek it regularly.

Aloneness — “all one-ness” — translates to wholeness, integrity. And I can be okay with my history. I can be forgiving of myself and others. I can have these stories, and many other ones, too, that do and do not define me, but all make up The Experience of Me.

In my dream, I am at peace. I do not know if it is a forecast of what is to come, or if it is my mental happy place, one of warmth and light, comfort and grace, expansiveness and safety, of nature and strength, of foundation, or of understanding. I am certain that it is a connection to those who have suffered, as well as to those who have survived and healed — or at least repaired — and we are united in commonalities of human experience.

I have been happy to remember this daydream. It brings me home. It reminds me: I am home.

“(In My) Solitude”

In my solitude
You haunt me
With revelries
Of days gone by

In my solitude
You taunt me
With memories
That never die

I sit in my chair
Filled with despair
There’s no one could be so sad

With gloom everywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I’ll soon go mad

In my solitude
I’m prayin’
Dear Lord above
Send back my love

– Ellington, DeLange, Mills

“Billie” playlist, for when you might need to sing the Blues:

“Easy Living”
“What Is This Thing Called Love?”
“Them There Eyes”
“Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do”
“You Better Go Now”
“Big Stuff”
“Good Morning Heartache”
“Lover Man”
“Crazy He Calls Me”
“That Old Devil Called Love”
“Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?”
“All Of Me”
“I Cover The Waterfront”
“East of the Sun”
“You Go To My Head”
“Autumn In New York”
“I Thought About You”
“Willow Weep For Me”
“Stormy Weather”
“Any Old Time”
“Georgia On My Mind”
“A Fine Romance”
“Foolin’ Myself”
“On The Sentimental Side”
“The Way You Look Tonight”
“This Year’s Kisses”

– Photo: McCall, Idaho. LBR

Liza Beth Rumery

Writer, storyteller, kitchen mistress, traveler. General contractor & CFO of house & home. Unschooling mom in a bookclub for 2 & president of my huzband’s fan club. Minimalist & essentialist. Devoted snuggler & nap champion. Can carry a mean tune. Perimenopause is my jam.

Spiritual enthusiast. Linguist, yogini, painter. Student & seeker. Crazy about Mad Libs & Magnet Poetry. Believer in you. Survivor & thriver, healed (mostly) & recovering. Still deschooling, unpacking burdens. Winner of no major awards.

Happily enjoying solitude, jazz & adagios & pretty much all music, reading, somatics & walks, as well as Monty Python reruns & live bird cams, with a glass of wine from the comfort of my sofa in furry slippers — or under a quiet, dark sky — in Northwest Big Sky country with my two favorite people.

Empathy is my superpower.

You can also find me:

Always here: Life Untethered
And here: Rumspeed
Or sometimes here: Pink Pangea
And my first blog, The Re-Birth of Lola, currently archived.

Should you care to comment or converse, catch me via my contact page. xo