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Saturday, 3 September 2016

6 of 7 - Distant Drums

(It's the penultimate seven-day marathon blog! Will we make it? I think so!)

As of right now I have the window opened for two reasons - to enjoy the cool breeze, and to take in the distant sound of the carnival.

We have a local carnival here. We have a few in fact, one for each of the major towns. As a kid I used to love carnival season, seeing all the colorful floats and people in costume and marching bands. These days there's a lot more samba bands than marching bands, and it seems to be a lot smaller. That is probably just kid-scaling. It was a thing of wonder and beauty, a sensation of community before I could properly convey what it felt like.

These days I don't have a lot of time for the carnival. It is physically difficult for me to stand in one spot for two hours. I mean I can do it, it just hurts like hell, and it is super-hard to enjoy anything when you are in a significant amount of pain. Also I think I am just a lot more miserable and scroogy about the entire thing. Having seen Notting Hill once, coming back to Ryde Illuminated can be a bit disheartening.

You know what, though? I like that it happens.

I like that big mobs of Island folk who are otherwise not talking to each other on a daily basis can get together for a while and see other Islanders prance about and have fun. I like the fact that, for a while, we get a little bit of community. The backbiting and rumour-mongering stops, and we just listen to music and look at pretty lights. We just enjoy life for a while.

Some of us do anyway.

I don't know what I would do without music, and listening to music in the distance, listening to it come to so many sets of ears and be freely heard by the populace - that's a thing of beauty. Music is life. The beat is life. Even if it's a samba band. Even if it's a bunch of drunk pub regulars dancing around to Jive Bunny on the back of a flatbed, as I remember from my youth.

I can hear those distant drums and I know that there are kids laughing and cheering and hoping that the ambulance at the end never comes, that the traffic never starts running again, that the parade of colour and light and sound just keeps running and running. That this thing that the entire town knows about and acknowledges and even kind of likes would just...never end.

And that's something that we can all kind of understand, right? We've all found those moments, those events, that we have wanted to continue long after dark. That we've wanted the sun to never rise on, because the sun leads to waking up, and responsibility, and work, and being the same as we were before this thing changed us forever and made us smile like we meant it.

The really tragic thing is that, quite often, we don't realise that we're in that place - that we're there, nestled in the warm arms of just feeling right and happy and secure and hopeful for once - until we wake up the next day; and just like waking up from a beautiful dream, we clutch for it helplessly, desperate to save just a little piece.

The memories are our reward. When we can look back and smile. And the time comes wherein you realise that there's certain things you won't get to do again. I speak personally in this regard - I know I won't hit up another music festival or go sleep in the desert under perfect stars. I can't. My body won't take it. But I do remember the time I did the things I did. I remember main stage at Reading, singing Under The Bridge with thousands of other people. I remember Brighton, and standing ten feet away from Adam Duritz as both of us burst into tears. I remember being driven home from a Poison show in Denver in a yellow Mustang. I remember sitting on Ryde sea front at midnight with the rest of my graduate friends, kings amongst men, yelling our challenges at the future with gusto.

I remember being seven, and sitting on my front garden wall, as the carnival came past - all those marching bands with buttons and instruments brightly polished, all those people in bright costumes, all those flatbeds full of dancing fools.

Drums in the distance, reminding us of when it was good, and that - just maybe - it can be good again.

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